Projects, Programme and Portfolio Management 

 September 22, 2020

By  Dave Litten

Four challenges that an organisation will face when using programme management.

Risk management

Programmes are risky by nature and the organisation needs a process to manage risk at all levels throughout the organisation.  The programme will probably be based on a need to undergo a strategic change within the organisation and this will result in a number of strategic risks being identified.

These risks will cascade down into the programme and the projects as the causes of the risks are challenged.

For example, a delay in delivering a programme benefit could have serious consequences for the organisation.  The reason for the delay needs to be understood and it is likely that the root cause and therefore the area that requires mitigation is actually within the project, e.g. a problem with a supplier.

The organisation must be able to see and manage this cascade.  There must also be a process in place to escalate risks from the project to the programme to the strategic level.  The whole process must be linked with the management of organisational risk within the organisation.

Resource allocation

Different Programmes need different teams and within any organisation there will be finite resources and this will be especially true in specialist areas such as IT.  The organisation requires a process by which it can forecast the demand for resources at project, programme and operational level over the period of the programme.

At the strategic level this must in essence cover a timeframe of at least 12 – 24 months, 9 – 18 months at programme level and 0 – 9 months at project level.  The resource requirements must be rolled forward on a regular basis, perhaps quarterly.

There needs to be a process that will cater for exceptional demand and a clear route for escalation and decision making, with individuals clearly made responsible for these activities and decisions.

Decision making and empowerment

Decisions must be made at all levels within the programme and its strategic setting.  Programme managers, sponsors and steering groups must be given the authority to make decisions within the programme.

These decisions will cover the commitment of people, materials and money.  Without this level of empowerment delays will occur as decisions are sought and extra work will be created for managers within the programme who need to provide the supporting information.

This will inevitably lead to delays, increased costs, and ultimately programme failure.

Change management

Too many programmes – too much change.  This is perhaps one of the most serious challenges facing any organisation that has a series of programmes underway.

This is especially the case when the changes are of a strategic nature and involve changes to way everybody in the business behaves and undertakes their daily tasks.  People are generally resistant to change and fearful of it.

This means that the organisation must consider how the transition is managed from old to new such that the majority of the workforce is wholeheartedly behind the change initiatives.

Organisations need to be aware of the effect of too many changes and may have to revise the portfolio if the best possible outcomes are to be achieved.

Make sense?

Now lets look at Five typical responsibilities of the Programme Manager throughout the programme life cycle

Dave Litten

David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

The Projex Academy

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