Last updated: 2022-03-20
We define program management as a set of methods an organization can use
to enable management of projects that are similar in terms of scope. As
such, it is a special case of multi project management which was defined as a set of methods to manage multiple projects.
In multi project management, those multiple projects "only" share
general resources of the organization, such as business administration,
accounting services, IT services, financing services, HR services, a
library, etc. Based on our definition, the projects of a program have
essential parts of their scope in common.
Let us look at an example of a construction company that is involved in constructing large office buildings, factory buildings for car manufacturing, and private homes in areas of new community development. The projects of any one of these areas, e.g. large office buildings, have essential parts of their scope in common; thus, the company could apply program management methods in order to enable management of each individual office building project.
Typically, they will use the project matrix organization for managing programs of projects.
Project Matrix Organization
In managing programs, we often use a project management office (PMO)
as pool of project managers, schedulers, contract managers, and risk
managers. In addition, there will be a pool of sales representatives,
systems engineers, designers and developers, system integrators, and
service engineers for significant parts of those projects that belong to
the same program of projects.
In that sense, program management becomes a rigorous and
comprehensive application of the project matrix organization covering
all essential parts of the projects of that program.
Consequently, we will encounter similar problems as with project matrix organizations in general (refer to sub-section Multi Project Management):
- colleagues working in "multi-tasking mode"
- work overload with too many projects
and unique allocation of resources to projects of such a program can
help to avoid these problems (as indicated in the above picture).
programs of projects, we want to make sure that we transfer lessons
learned of one project to the other ones of that same program. These
lessons learned cover all phases of the project management process.
Here, we would like to point out two areas in which transfer of lessons
learned across all projects of one program are most helpful.
Since the projects of a program have essential parts of their scope
in common a significant number of work packages in each of the projects
will be similar, if not the same, to those of the other projects of that
program; e.g. in a program of private home construction projects, we
would find work packages like "mount windows", "lay tiles", "install
sockets", "install switches", "pull cable", "install kitchen
appliances", "install bathroom appliances", etc. If it is for private
home construction there might be differences in material types and
costs. But in terms of effort and duration, we usually can conclude from
effort and duration per unit to effort and duration for the whole
project, under the condition we know the number of units for the whole
project (further details in sub-section Effort Estimation;
here, it is the combination of multiplication method and analogy
method; function point method is based on the same principles).
How do we know effort and duration per unit? We know these values
from other projects of the same type or program we have done earlier
This describes the process of knowledge transfer that we use in
program management. Apparently, we need to involve the experts of all
those work packages that are similar from project to project.
Another area in which we can benefit from transferring lessons learned from one project to similar ones is risk management.
Throughout each project, we conduct periodical risk analysis workshops
where we identify possible risk events, probability and impact, and
preventive or corrective actions. Projects of a program have similar
scope; thus, we expect similar risks for these projects. By collecting
actual data about similar risks across a program of projects we will be
able to apply the rules of statistics to every risk that is common to
most or all of those projects. Estimation of probability and impact
become more reliable.