What are the most important elements in programme management?
Given the current shortage of skilled talent in New Zealand, attracting and recruiting for a major project or programme can be challenging.
The market is busier than ever, with many companies recruiting key staff to support them on projects that were put on hold due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. We’re finding it’s a highly competitive environment, with employers pulling out all the stops to retain staff and attract prospective employees.
Businesses aren’t being deterred by the shortage of personnel, however, and are pressing ahead with some large and complex programmes of work. Success relies on having effective programme management; here are some key elements to successful programme delivery.
Why is programme management so critical?
A programme controls multiple, related projects across different areas of a business to achieve a defined business goal and deliver specific benefits. A key function is to link in with the business change functions within affected areas to ensure that transformations are implemented effectively, and staff remain well informed throughout the process.
Programme management is similar to project management, in that it includes the completion of specific tasks. However, programme management aligns more closely with an organisation’s ongoing strategy rather than a specific deliverable. As a result, successful programmes generally result in transformational change within an organisation.
- Governance – defining the programme roles and responsibilities, and processes and metrics so these can be measured.
- Management – planning the individual projects and overall programme with regular reviews and ensuring stakeholders are engaged.
- Financial management – ensuring costs associated with the programme are tracked, with controls put in place.
- Infrastructure – creating the right work environment to support programme planning. This includes developing a plan based on specific projects, resources, timescales, and controls for the overall programme.
Key roles for ensuring a programme's success
A Senior Responsible Owner (SRO), or programme sponsor, is responsible for ensuring the programme achieves the business case deliverables and provides the planned benefits for the organisation. People in this role may hold a different title to SRO, but their responsibilities remain the same.
The programme manager reports to the programme sponsor and is responsible for managing the day-to-day running of the programme and coordinating its projects.
Business change managers are responsible for transitioning people and processes into the desired business outcomes and benefits, including setting things in place for business as usual (BAU) work after projects and programmes wrap up.
Project management framework
A programme management framework is important, as it provides a governance structure and a process model. There should always be consistency between the methods for managing a programme and its projects – this is one of the key skills that a programme manager offers.
The framework usually includes these eight components:
- Vision – a high-level strategy or idea that drives the organisation towards its goal.
- Design – this is a framework for the projects that make up the programme. The programme manager needs to consider which projects have dependencies on others and prioritise them accordingly.
- Scope – this adds boundaries to the programme and explains what will be delivered.
- Benefit realisation – this is a process at the end of the programme where the metrics are measured. The programme manager will often continue to monitor the programme after the individual projects are completed to ensure that planned ongoing benefits are realised.
- Approach – this is how the programme will run and it’s up to the programme manager to decide the most effective way. As a minimum, it should include a communications plan and regular updates with stakeholders.
- Resource management – a plan outlining both short-term and long-term scheduling and allocation of resources.
- Responsibilities – this identifies and allocates responsibility for each area of the programme.
- Aims and objectives – a more detailed statement explaining what is required to achieve the vision. This provides a point of reference to go back to when a renewed focus is needed.
If a group of related projects are not managed as a programme, it is likely to run off course and fail to achieve their desired outcomes. Programmes should also operate within a framework, as this ensures there is a focus on the overall strategic objectives.
By applying these important elements, organisations will create an effective environment where they can monitor and control the progress of their programmes and ensure successful delivery of the business benefits within the required timeframes.
Do you need programme managers?
Techspace are technology and programme management recruitment specialists. We build partnerships with your best interests at heart. If you’re looking to employ a programme manager or you are a programme manager open to new roles, please get in touch and we can talk through the next steps.