Planning is key for a program manager. The realization plan and roadmap help ensure the business receives deliverables to match desired outcomes.
- The planning work for a program is never finished, but if a program manager doesn't define done, how does she know that she's got there? The program manager starts by defining what needs to be in the benefits realization plan, or when we plan to deliver the benefits. Here's an example of a program from my past. I worked for a company who's serviced global clients and our competitive advantage was our multinational footprint. Once we signed up new clients, our programs were based on implementing those new clients into our system.
Within our programs, we had two key stakeholder groups. The client was our first stakeholder group. The client picked us because we could service them in all the countries they did business in. With one service provider, they could streamline processes, drive policy, cut costs, and get consolidated data. The sooner we can get them rolled out, the sooner the client would see the benefits. The second stakeholder group was our company, who was eager to get the revenue from our new client.
Same goal, different reasons. Now onto the program components or the projects within a program. In our example, the deliverable or output was the client implementation. Each country had their own project with a project manager responsible. After defining the benefits, we then needed to safeguard that the benefits were being delivered. You would think this would be straightforward, but each country had a different way of working, different laws and slightly different expectations, regardless what their headquarters said.
Lastly, we needed to define the performance baseline. A baseline is our starting point and we used the program kickoff as our basis to compare what we said we would deliver and how we actually held up. Once the program management plan had been put together and had been agreed upon by the key stakeholders, the first baseline is set. The example you see on your screen shows how the typical progress looks within a program. At the beginning, we don't have much to show. After all, we just started, right? We start spending money on paying for resources and materials, and don't have much to show for it.
That, thankfully, changes through time, and, eventually, we start to show real benefits. You'll notice that, by the end of the program, our costs go down, but what we've produced doesn't. In our example, we pushed to have the easiest country deployed first, so that we could learn from the deployment, but the client had other ideas. You'll see that through good planning, you could still meet your goals.
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- What is program management?
- Who are program managers?
- Program versus project
- Program life-cycle phases
- Aligning programs to an organization's strategies
- Analyzing needs and planning programs
- Delivering and sustaining benefits from programs
- Working with program stakeholders
- Supporting program governance activities
- Managing program finances and resources
- Scheduling programs
- Managing program scope and quality