Advice for Program Managers: 1-Program Management Opportunity

Summary: Introduces a vision and framework for development of Program Managers and PMO, for Program Management specialization to its environment, and for improved effectiveness and integration of PM with organization operational management.

This Series, “Advice for Program Managers”: Modern Program Management requires skills and methods specialized to characteristics of its industry; to technologies of its produced products and services; and to management of its organization. In execution, Program Management envisions, creates, organizes, and rationalizes information and leadership across all these domains. The leadership and information created make Program Management an integral part of operational management of a majority of work flowing through an organization.

The Series also solicits contributions to this Blog site, to extend coverage of PM Best Practices and Core Program Structure to a broadening set of industries and technologies.

This post: introduces a framework for excellence in Program Management in modern environments, describing value-add by Program Management that can magnify effectiveness and agility of many organizations. The framework includes opportunity for collection and propagation of PM Best Practices and Core Program Structure specialized to industries and technologies. It describes a PM career path including behaviors and skills to better integrate Program Management within an organization, and with management of the organization. Finally, methodology is described to capture, adopt, and propagate PM Best Practices and Core Program Structure to improve professional Program Management.

The Program Management Opportunity

Assertion: Different program types each require specialization of Program Management methods and skills.

How do you learn practices necessary to the program type you are managing? Are there PM Best Practices and Core Program Structure within your company? PM Best Practices and Core Program Structure across companies in your industry?

Further Assertion: Knowledge of Operations of your organization gained by Program Managers can significantly benefit management of the overall organization.

Senior Management is seldom well-connected to operation of the organization at the level of its actual workers. Line management usually have piecewise but not overall knowledge of operation of the organization.

How well does senior management in your company use Program Management cross-organizational, cross-product, cross-technology, operational information, in overall management of the organization? Can Program Management contribute more to Senior Management to improve management of the organization?

Even More Assertions: No clear source teaches excellence in PM for modern project specializations. Nobody teaches PM how to connect Program Management with Senior Management.

PMI, and many PM workshops, generally focus on high-level constructs: Agility, Principles, Governance, Mindset, Value Streams, Collaboration, Team experience et al. These are abstractions that raise aspirational credibility but do not address how to apply themselves to real and specialized Programs.

Let’s fill the gap!

Develop methodology to create, communicate, maintain, and expand best-practices for practical, actionable program management of modern program specializations; and to connect operational knowledge gained from Program Management to organizational management.

for PM individuals and PMO organizations,

to better effectiveness of the host organizations in which we work,

to connect with organizational Management and especially with Senior Management,

and to better the profession of Program Management and its utilization in host organizations.

Advice for Program Managers: The Blog Series

Links to the listed Posts will become active as the Posts are published.

This Series, “Advice for Program Managers”: Modern Program Management requires skills and methods specialized to characteristics of its industry; to technologies of its produced products and services; and to management of its organization. In execution, Program Management envisions, creates, organizes, and rationalizes information and leadership across all these domains. The information and leadership created make Program Management an integral part of management of a majority of work flowing through an organization.

1-Program Management Opportunity
Introduces a vision and framework for development of Program Managers and PMO, for Program Management specialization to its environment, and for improved effectiveness and integration of PM with organization operational management.

2-Program Management Career Path
Describes career path thinking for Program Managers including sourcing, progression, advancement, and connection with organizational management.

3- Program Management Career Skills
Career path thinking for Program Managers including skills and behaviors that develop Program Manager capabilities and leadership and pave the way toward advancement.

4- Program Management Specialization: System Programs Phased Methodology
PM Best Practices and Core Program Structure for Hybrid integrated system programs using Phased HW – Agile SW, mixed-technologies. Full-Program agility via automated plan tools with continuous plan update.

The Series also solicits contributions to this Blog site, to extend coverage of PM Best Practices and Core Program Structure to a broadening set of Specializations.

5-Quantified Phased, Quantified Agile Programs
Program Quantification applied to Phased and Agile methodologies to deal with organizational quantitative requirements.

6-PMO Role
PMO behavior to achieve Program Management effectiveness specialized to its environment managing PM practices in the organization, including PM development and advancement and connection with organizational management.

7-Make It Happen
Steps to take by individual PMs and by PMO organizations for Program Management effectiveness specialized to its environment by capturing, adopting, and propagating Best Practices and Core Program Structure among PMs and PMOs, including PM development and advancement and connection with organizational management.

Executive Expectations of Program Management

Develop and Ship product!

  • Translate Product Management concept and business plan into tangible offerings via Dev and Ops orgs.
  • Deliver product to market within corporate requirements.
  • Integrate line-managed skill organizations with cross-organizational programs.
  • Align all Program aspects (e.g., function, availability, compatibility, quality, compliance) of product elements.
  • Initiate and execute effective program management methodologies throughout the organization.
  • Program Management creates the plan translating the product or service concept into work to be executed across multiple organizations; organizes functional organizations to execute the work; and then motivates and monitors that work.

Value-Add by Program Management

Program Management can offer Senior Management more than they commonly expect.

Of course, Program Management plans Programs, typically product development or ongoing process operation, or provision of infrastructure; and then drives, monitors, corrects, and reports the state of those Programs.

These programs plan and drive operation of a major share of business processes across participating organizations. It wouldn’t be much exaggeration to claim that Program Management in many organizations drives almost 100% of work that flows through the organization. In an organization developing server-class hardware, material may be 50% of spending, directly planned and controlled by Program Management. The other major organizational expense in most organizations is for personnel doing the work that is virtually all planned and managed by Program Management.

In this activity, PMs create or aggregate myriad information useful to organizational management. This information is usually cross-organizational, cross-product, and cross-technology: and it’s even rationalized across domains. Furthermore, the PMO is a collection of such people and of their information.

Program Managers individually, and PMOs, can take advantage of this information gained, to maximize connection with senior management to operation of the organization.

Different program types drive varying kinds of information, often analogues to these, all necessarily germane to operation of the specific business of the overall organization.

Here are examples of management information commonly gained from Programs:

  • Current state of design, test, fab, qualification, and production, and the effect of that state on both immediate future, and projected outcomes and business implications. Current cost per unit, future cost per unit, and variance if any from target committed to support the business plan. State of readiness of Supply Chain, Factory, Field Spares.
  • Financials. Collection, planning, execution and communication of schedule and financial outlooks and actuals for programs. What we have spent to date, on what, what we are preparing to spend right now, what we plan to spend going forward. Expense, capital, partners, licenses et al. Includes driving to meet objectives determined.
  • Usage. Customers, partners, and all organizations currently using or planning use and experience with prototype units
  • Alignment. Operational alignment of priorities, sequences, assignments across multiple functional organizations. Cooperative and synergistic program operation across entities to realize opportunities, and to mitigate cross-functional product and operational problems.
  • Change Management. Ability to aggregate almost any metric or status on short notice. Ability to assemble a team immediately to analyze or realize any add-update-delete to current activity or feature. Continuous plan, and update to reflect “best known path from here”.

If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know your business – Marcus Lemonis (CNBC “The Profit“)

Some of this information is available piecewise from functional groups within the organization. But Program Managers most likely have it on-hand, in context and rationalized across organizations. Program Managers usually have a better overview, rationalized, and supported by on-hand data, of operation than is available piecewise from line organizations. That may better-inform management with greater opportunity than is commonly realized.

Can Program Management and individual Program Managers use their knowledge of program management methodologies, plus knowledge of needs of the whole organization, to adapt methodologies and execute them to satisfy requirements across the organization?

Can Program Management and individual Program Managers participate more directly in the business of the Organization?

This leads to a broader vision of management: Transform cross-organizational Program Management for use directly in management of the organization. Use Program Management operational knowledge and artifacts in organizational management.

For this to be realized, Program Managers and PMO must demonstrate the same degree of professional behaviors, leadership, skills, expertise, and execution as is achieved by line managers in the organization. The rest of this Series emphasizes these characteristics.

Specific behaviors described in this Series may not apply to your organization or program types or operating style. Nevertheless, consider how operational knowledge gained by your Program Management can further benefit management of your overall organization. Consider whether the behaviors described here can be adapted to achieve more effective Program Management within your organization to enhance operational performance and Program Management careers.

NEXT POST — Advice for Program Managers: 2-Program Management Career Path

All views expressed in this Series are observations and conclusions of the Author based on real-life experience. Of course, these are neither always true nor always false, but are true within the Author’s experience.

Credits

“Expert Team” Image licensed from www.shutterstock.com

My website: www.softtoyssoftware.com

Copyright © 2021 Richard M. Bixler
All rights reserved

Share

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top