An IT program generally comprises of multiple projects running in parallel to deliver a solution. Hence there are much more complexities in managing programs then a project. The ramification of a program failure has a ripple effect on the client organization and also the solution provider as it ends up being a failure of multiple projects.
An individual project governance structure generally consists of a project manager, a technical specialist capable of integrating technology with business philosophy and a business sponsor who is responsible for ensuring that the deliverables are in line with the business goals to be met.
A program governance structure on the contrary generally has a steering committee comprising of senior level personnel whose accountability and role is often decided by the board of directors, a program manager entrusted by the steering committee to guide the workforce and ensure that the program achieves its desired results. A set of project managers reporting to the program manager are responsible for managing individual parallel projects which form a part of the program.
In short program management generally requires a three to four layered management structure as compared to project management which generally requires a single or double layered management structure.
The Role of PMO
The success of a program depends on the foundation of the technical and a comprehensive administrative infrastructure. The administrative infrastructure is provided in the form of a PMO. The PMO is responsible for resource loading, facilities management, expense monitoring with respect to allocated budget, KPI creation on program’s progress.
The Role of technical specialist/Architect
The technical infrastructure is provided by a technical specialist and his team overseeing and ensuring the creation of robust application architecture and Data centre operations. The success also depends on the selection of a methodologies and best practices in technical,administrative and business process areas.
The role of Methodologies and Best Practices
Acheving Technical efficiency & Sustainability
On the technical front The delivery of a quality software product requires focus on the application’s architecture, artifact design and delivery model. Careful selection and efficient use of industry standard methodologies and frameworks can bolster the stability of the technical infrastructure and ensure quality product delivery.Frameworks like TOGAF and Zacman provides a robust architectural foundation whereas development methodologies like CMMI for a waterfall approach and SCRUM, RUP, DSDM and Enterprise XP for an agile approach can streamline the development cycle and enable on-time delivery of quality software artifacts. System maintenance and upgrade can be streamlined by implementing service management methodologies like ITIL, which predominantly focuses on service desk management.
Achieving Business Process Excellence
Streamlining of the business processes within the client organization is also required.Industry standards and best practices like Six Sigma can provide the necessary impetus in this regard.
Achieving Governance Goals
Some restructuring of organization’s governance framework might also be required. This may well be an assimilation of bureaucratic and matrix structures.
The project’s objectives can be met only by periodic audits and reviews to track progress with respect to delivery schedule, expenses incurred, payment milestones etc.
Strict controls are required from program management perspective to ensure that functional requirements are signed off by customer and an effective change control mechanism is put in place to reduce scope creep.
Program management metrics if prepared in adherence to the program’s objective can significantly help in measuring the current progress made and optimize the processes to fulfill the program’s objective.
Building a Product roadmap
The program management should have a strategic focus on building a product roadmap. This will increase ROI.
Hence as discussed above, efficient program management requires careful evaluation of the strategic goals of the program, a robust management infrastructure, a careful selection of matrices to measure progress and a vision to build a product roadmap.