The biggest project management pitfall: grouping projects together and calling the bundle a ‘programme.’
Grouping and managing projects under a central project management office (PMO) standardises processes and seems efficient, but can only deliver one single project. A programme is a strategically aligned set of deliverables (across multiple projects) that maps and tracks the path to success.
A programme is the vehicle that drives an organisation’s strategic objectives and delivers the benefits.
In simple terms, it’s a bit like building a motorway. It’s not about the details of laying kilometres of tarmac, it’s about the bigger picture of getting people where they need to go and making the journey in the expected time.
Approaching your projects as a programme can have a myriad of benefits:
- Understanding what success looks like
I often see organisations launching into a programme without understanding the outcomes. Team players aren’t sure of the rules, and objectives are hazy. How do we know if the programme has delivered or if we’re still on the journey?
- Aligning the programme to strategic objectives
Even maintenance or servicing existing technologies (“keeping the lights on”) can link back to a client’s strategic objectives. An objective could be greater efficiency in the delivery of services to maintain or reduce fixed overheads.
- Taking on a realistic challenge
Long lists of objectives are easy to ignore; a programme can prioritise goals to be achievable, affordable, and beneficial within a realistic time frame.
- Building programmes to deliver
By working at a higher level than a project as a temporary state of activities, we can gain great flexibility in delivery.
Programme delivery could invoke changing the structure of an organisation, or rescoping individual projects to help realise greater benefits.
Taking a programme perspective cuts through distractions of other demands on delivery teams, and keeps everyone focussed on the end goal. A programme operates at a higher level than project delivery, allowing change at a strategic level without getting caught up in operational issues.
Grouping projects into a managed approach via a PMO is not a programme – it’s asking for trouble. A programme sets a tangible purpose for a PMO, building success from the ground up. Do you know how your project fits into the big picture?