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Tips on Managing Programs Successfully

Jack Grabovski
November 8, 2012

How to Succeed in Program Management

Tips Managing Programs SuccessfullySuccess in managing a program greatly depends on how well each related project is performed and whether all possible conflicts with other related projects are resolved early. In my experience in managing programs successfully I see that today’s normal business environment requires team leaders to carry out multiple projects in parallel, while those individuals should also take care of superior customer service and acceptable team performance. And a company that succeeds in managing parallel projects will outpace the competition. Thus, successful program management is a competitive edge and essential for business growth. Here I suggest you 5 tips on how to manage a program successfully.


Keep Program Objective Clear and Comprehensive

In simple terms, program management is a process of managing a program that comprises two or more related projects running in parallel (more ideas). As a rule, projects are combined into a program when they work toward the same or interdependent objectives and when there is no conflict in between. Thus, such a program should have an overarching objective that covers all the goals of the related projects.

However, in fact businesses often deal with a disparate list of projects which conflict with each other and have different goals. When you encounter this situation in your business environment, you should carefully consider each of your business projects, find those having the same or interacting objectives, and combine them into a program. What you shouldn’t do is trying to integrate projects that are in conflict at the very beginning. Designing and managing your program successfully requires you to set a clear and comprehensive objective that overarches the projects’ goals.

Tip #1. Don’t try to jump into managing the program without a clear and complete objective that covers the goals of the related project. Also be sure that the projects do not conflict with each other at any level.

Program Manager as a Strategist

Certainly there should be assigned a person who would carry out the program manager role. This person shouldn’t be involved in project management but only in program management. The idea here is that when a program manager works independently on the projects and focuses on the strategic processes only, the success in managing the program is guaranteed. In case that individual gets involved in the tactics of the related projects, strategic decision making can be broken.

Tip #2. Your program manager should act as a strategist who takes the ultimate authority and responsibility of managing the program successfully. This individual should remain impartial to tactic decisions of the project managers but should provide and control the strategic direction for the work.

Provide Successful Program-Level Support

One of the greatest benefits of managing successful programs is that a program manager provides support to the related projects and explores opportunities which can be exploited across the course of work. This individual looks for roadblocks in common and never considers each separate issue in detail. Investigating distinctions among the projects will help to get focused on the “right” places.

Tip #3. Look for trends that can be leveraged across your projects and focus on common elements that ensure success in managing your program. This will help you provide support at program level.

Set Right Priority

Designing and managing programs successfully involves prioritization that is essential in allocating resources, resolving conflicts, improving performance, etc. Prioritization makes it possible to rank all tasks and activities in projects by importance or urgency. By setting priorities across the projects your program’s objective becomes much obvious and understandable. And a clear path to implementing the objective will be declared.

Tip #4. Your job as a program manager is to communicate with the project managers to understand the value of each project to the program, identify critical tasks and set right priority.

Manage Interdependencies

As it follows from the Pareto principle, right linking of interdependent projects determines the 80/20 of success in managing the program. The challenge is to figure out what tasks are related to one or another project, how best to allocate resources, when it is best to support one project while reducing the performance of another one.

Tip #5. You should continually look for links and connections between the tasks of your projects to ensure that right interdependencies are set. Extra attention should be focused on the critical path tasks that cause the 80/20 of managing the program successfully.

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