Tuesday, 06 November 2012 13:18

6 Don'ts to Program Management Success

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Anderson FEATUREARTICLE Nov7In today’s new normal business environment, leaders must do more with less – and deliver superior customer service at the same time.  In my 20+ years of experience as an operations executive and global business consultant, I’m seeing an unprecedented number of projects that must be run simultaneously to deliver business objectives.  Thus, program management is essential – those who succeed with outpace the competition.  I’ve found that there are 6 Don’ts to avoid:

  1. Don’t jump into program management without a clear objective:  Certainly each project has an objective; however, do they combine to create a program?  If there is no overarching objective the company wishes to achieve, program management will likely fail.  Too much to do with too few seasoned project leaders with no time.  For example, my client that put together a series of projects related to moving from a manual process to leveraging a fully integrated system with a robust process was successful because the program objective was clear.  Many others had a disparate list of projects which conflicted and ended in frustration and disappointment.
  2. Don’t assign the program manager to be a project manager:  Of course it is tempting to ask your best resources to fill several roles; however, the only way for a program manager to continually look across projects for trends, opportunities and roadblocks is to remain impartial.  It is only natural to become consumed with your project if you are also the project leader.  If you are limited on resources, the program manager can fill in but someone else should have the ultimate authority and responsibility.
  3. Don’t work on each project separately:  One of the key benefits of having a program manager is to provide support to the projects.  Look for trends which can be leveraged across all projects.  Look for roadblocks in common – or common elements. Focusing on distinctions among the projects will help to focus attention on the ‘right’ places.
  4. Don’t think all projects are created equal:  Of course each project leader believes his/her project is the most critical for success; however, the program manager must look across projects for the project or the task which is most critical for success of the program objective.  Prioritization is essential in resolving conflicts, assigning resources, etc.  The job of a program manager is to help each project leader understand his/her value to the program and any key tasks essential to program success.
  5. Don’t focus on correcting weaknesses:  Building on strengths has proven to be far more effective than correcting weaknesses.  In my experience, it often provides a 10 to 1 return.  Look across the program for strengths.  How can they be leveraged effectively?  How can you build upon the strengths to achieve project and program results?
  6. Don’t forget about connections:  Links between projects typically are the 80/20 of success.  Which tasks are related to multiple projects?  Which tasks connect resources from multiple projects?  Which tasks are required from 1 project to support the success of another project?  Look for links and connections continually.  Focusing extra attention on these tasks can be a secret to success.

Delivering program results is vital to company success in today’s new normal business environment.  Those program managers who focus on the ‘right’ things will accelerate results.  Therefore, make sure to navigate the waters to avoid the pitfalls, and you’ll have a leg up on the competition.

Don't forget to leave your comments below.

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Lisa Anderson

Lisa Anderson, President of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., www.lma-consultinggroup.com, is a senior supply chain and operations executive and management consultant. To sign up for her free monthly newsletter containing tips and techniques for improving business performance, click here. She can be reached at 909-630-3943 or landerson@lma-consultinggroup.com


0 # Roderick Gottgens 2012-11-08 02:47
Hi Lisa,

Thanks for this blog item. It's interesting and you've written the most classic pit-falls (especialy the first one seems to be forgotten all the time).
I do have one question, though. On number 5 you say 'Don't focus on weaknesses'. Which weakness do you mean by this? If you mean the weakness of the organization: couldn't this be one of the reasons to change (= starting up a programme)? Meaning you do focus on it?
Or do you mean the weakness of individual persons? In that case I fully agree. To get the most out of people they have to work 'in their strength'. Doing what they are good at and avoiding or be supported in what they are not good at.
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0 # Pankaj Shukla 2012-11-08 23:25
Hi Lisa,
Thank you so much for this very very important blog. You have touched a correct cord. It is a real lesson of say 'Back to basics' where most of the people fail coz for simple reasons, they think different.
I have one question. Should the Program Manager set a common goal to all the projects which in turn subordinates to the Organisational goal? Or he should think of different goals for each project seperately (but the unverbalised fear here is - if while achieving the individual target, are we neglecting the holistic view and Organisational target??). In such case, will it be write to decide where to stop if the Organisational goal is achieved before the Project individual target is achieved? Because in such case, managing the teams becomes very tough.
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0 # Lisa Anderson 2012-11-18 04:31

Good question. I meant for each individual. I hadn't thought about the organization. In that case, I think organizations can certainly leverage their strengths as well to stand out in the crowd; however, they would have to correct weaknesses as competitors could surpass them.

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0 # Lisa Anderson 2012-11-18 04:35
This is a good question also. I think the Program Manager should set an overall theme which will correlate to the individual project goals. It would be hard to have the same goal for each project; however, the goals should align with the overarching theme. It would also make sense that if one project got off track, resources should be reviewed across all projects for reallocation to make sure the program stayed on track. I hope this helps.
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