Program Management

What’s the worst program management you’ve ever experienced? Chances are, we can all tell a few tales. Who hasn’t witnessed some pretty interesting program management teams or, unfortunately, some horrible events? If you have experienced any of the following scenarios, you might be in the running for experiencing the worst program management ever:

  • The program management approach is failing miserably, not able to drive a program or meet a target;
  • Everyone on the program management team is looking out for their own interests, not the goals of the program; and/or
  • One or several of the program management team members are not carrying their weight, causing the rest of team to rise up in disgust, give lackluster support to the program or display a host of bad behaviors (take your choice).

You have an option to either participate in any of the above, continue to drive down the program,  or recognize that help is needed and be part of the team that  positively turns around the approach.  Successful program management is tough. The really great program management teams and methods I’ve been a part of all displayed some common characteristics:

  • A strong executive sponsor or set of sponsors. These folks are not just names on a chart; they take a proactive interest in making the program successful.
  • A strong team. The team is not just technically strong, but is actually a team that helps each other and continues to move the ball forward.  Egos are left at the door and everyone pitches in.
  • The team starts to have fun. It’s really hard at the onset of a serious program to even think of having fun! As soon as the team starts to enjoy the program, the team will shift. This may mean that initially the program has to hit a few tough roadblocks, which they can resolve and learn from in order to grow and start to have fun … but it is possible.
  • The team gets rid of deadwood. This doesn’t always mean resources. It may mean that the program plan is not realistic. It may mean that the team is measuring too many metrics and there are only a handful of metrics that really make sense. The team can quickly determine what is valuable and what is just overhead.
  • The team purposefully establishes a charter for success. Good teams realize that success is not just critical to maintaining the momentum of the program, but that communication and change management around success needs to be defined, mapped out and systematically used to keep the program moving forward. It’s not just about meeting your delivery roadmap, it’s about creating the positive buzz that this program is successful and is a good model for the future.

Program management certifications, plans and models are everywhere.  A team should be able to get project management expertise into the group and set up a model that is best-in-class. But aside from the setup of the program management model and the delivery plan, consider some of the items above and see if they apply.  Ask yourself, the key leads, and maybe some key team members for their view on the topics above.  You may find out that you get some great feedback, and that through this feedback, you are building a stronger program management approach!