3 ways program management leverages strategy execution


3 ways program management leverages strategy execution

Current statistics show that only 30 % of projects are successful and less than 25% of employees are actively engaged (meaning doing their best having a feeling to realize themselves). This means not only a huge waste of money and energy, as well as a major risk for business development.

Can you imagine a single minute, what business development opportunity it would represent of 100% projects would be successful and employees all highly motivated??

The great news is that there is an on-going way to change these statistics by following the next three keys:

  1. Driving all existing approaches or initiatives through project/ program management removing then barriers between “strategic functions” and the different “execution functions”

This is not reinventing or opposing any existing structured approaches (lean, agility, project management… with all related certifications), however “integrating” them towards common goals and expected benefits, making bridges between functions, methods, objectives.

As a way to illustrate necessary bridges between execution and strategic functions (Finances, HR, Strategy …), here is a very interesting article from Mark Langley, CEO, Project Management Institute and former CFO: “3 things CFOs should know about project management” .

“The first thing I would tell a CFO is that all strategic initiatives are delivered through projects and programs (…)”

“The second thing (…) is how much money is wasted on projects that fail to meet their objectives due to poor performance (…)” 

“The third thing (…) is that having a culture of project management can make his or her life easier.”

  1. Insert program management to coordinate related projects for higher performance

Program management is a standard approach for uncertain and complex contexts, to deliver business benefits by coordinating interdependent projects and activities. What are his main advantages ?

Based on benefits delivery and sustainability objectives according to program business case rather than “just” projects delivery –> it  contains “agility way of thinking” to deliver benefits as quick as possible, and a “strategic way of thinking” to change the content of the plan (e.g. cancel a project or define a new one in agreement with governance) to exploit opportunities or mitigate risks.

Brings consistency between projects and alignment to common goals –> it provides support to projects and overall purpose which is key for engagement.

Focuses on “stakeholder engagement” around negotiated benefits, a program vision , mission and contribution to strategy –>  it is much more than “lead change”, it is based on “build together approach”, this applies to all stakeholders including customers, operational teams and program and project teams.

As a recent demonstration of professional program management in Iowa, USA, Senators signed the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act of 2015, as a way to ensure better performance in their projects. By adopting the program management standards, practices and procedures of high-performing, private sector organizations. The purpose is to make these programs cost efficient and on budget, after billions of dollars had been wasted over years! What are other american states waiting for? Same question for organizations?

  1. Use programs as a driver for engagement and leadership expansion

Programs are by definition an approach to drive change, even program methodology includes the definition of a vision, a “To Be State” and a mission statement. However no methods can work without people. The main factor here is leadership, which starts with intrinsic leadership of leaders from executive leaders to project managers.

Projects and programs are great opportunities to engage people, make them move regarding their own development objectives and give them a feeling to contribute to a greater collective adventure.

Beyond the project and programs scope itself, projects and programs are a unique way to promote new ways of thinking, behaving, and working together towards the company culture, mission and vision:

  • A relevant priority and staffing of the project team would then lead to evolve the organization and complete mindset towards a more effective company.
  • New ways to work, in terms of formalizing, organizing, prioritizing and steering different tasks activities can be promoted for more efficiency.
  • Innovation in management and leadership can be put in place in coordinating cross functional teams towards consistent values and goals.

Here is a great “operational “ bridge to exploit with HR functions and company organization and culture.

There are currently two main organizations providing certifications in program management: PMI and APMG. Looking for instance at PMI certifications in program management (PgMP), there are around 1400 PgMP mainly in US, Canada, India , GCC which is still low compared to the 650 000 certified project managers.

As a conclusion, program management is a strong enabler for evolving a complete organization strategy. Based on the relevant leadership, such an evolution will lead to value-added inside and beyond the project.

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