Only a meager 2.5% of all organizations are able to complete 100% of their undertaken projects successfully. However, 61% of these organizations have claimed an increase in project success rates after implementing program management practices over the last two years. With that said, it is imperative to have the right program management skills to help your organization excel in today’s competitive world.
Program management is a complex process which involves all the project managers to work alongside each other and with the program manager in complete harmony. The importance of being organized shines aggressively when a business entity is attempting to take on multiple projects. The seamless execution of every activity leading to project success would benefit from being mapped and regulated. All activities within all projects are dissected and organized for efficiency, effectiveness, and meeting business objectives within Project Management.
Benefits to the business through better organization or program management skills result in a reduction in overall expenditure or time and resources, more positive work environments, and better ROIs.
Who Is A Program Manager?
Program managers are authorized by SROs (Senior Responsible Owners) to institute plans of change. From a bird’s eye perspective, program managers offer robust streamlining strategies to focus all business activities towards achieving only designated objectives and goals. This institutes better long term working practices and ensures better productivity.
Program managers assess all project undertakings by an organization and restructure coordination for better results. They determine how individual projects are doing, any interdependencies with other projects, and their resource consumption. Program managers spend their time crafting the PMP or program management plan to institute measures that can be incorporated full time.
Project managers are required to be flexible. They have to be considerate of the industry, organization, and business environment. This allows them to craft bespoke plans to reach all business objectives set by an organization, no matter how unique.
Roles & Responsibilities Of A Program Manager
While a program manager’s role remains dynamic, some critical roles and responsibilities are standardized for this position. These responsibilities include:
- Management of the organization through the program lifecycle
- Creating crystal clear rules and regulations for the governance of the program
- Creating the Program Management Plan (PMP)
- Planning and implementing the required changes
- Watching progress as it occurs and recording the same in reports
- Introducing a budget to manage the program
- Understanding and explaining all prospective risks and possible issues that could occur
- Recommending corrective measures that could be instituted to address the same
- Mapping and framing project interdependencies and general coordination
- Distributing resources based on necessity across all projects
- Ensuring stakeholders maintain clear communication of their ideas and feedback with the Program Manager and each other
- Creating a list of deliverables for the program to achieve and detailing the operations or activities that will keep the organization in that direction
- Maintaining and storing all records, data, and documents regarding program management for further reference
It is important to note that maintaining a dynamic mindset is the key to success within the program management field. While the core principles remain the same, adopting these strategies to any project or industry is highly required. Program managers thrive when they have the will to adapt to their environment while trying to make their environment adopt better working practices.
Must Have Program Management Skills
Qualifications and certifications can certainly help program managers broaden their perspectives. However, without a firm set of foundation skills, customizing responses to various problems would not be possible. These nine core principles could make or break a program managers career:
- Larger scale visions and belief in execution
- Strong leadership skills and a penchant for team building
- Excellent communication skills
- A “take charge” attitude and negotiation skills
- Firm conflict resolution beliefs
- Stakeholder coordination
- Foresight for resource planning and management
- Superior analytical skills
- Adept in tools and technology to aid project/program management methods
Along with a technical set of skills, program management requires a clear understanding of information patterns and talent to implement many strategies. The objective of program management is to introduce long term sustainable growth. This requires a granular understanding of an organization’s workings and the foresight to implement structures that yield long term benefits to all stakeholders and the organization.
The skillset essential to the success of program management is based on dynamic principles. If the individual is centered around flexibility, all organizational challenges become solvable issues instead of roadblocks. The success of program management is measured by the extent to which business goals are achieved. Therefore the introduction of an individual with a firm set of adaptable base skills could offer strategies and changes that renew how a business conducts itself.
Now that you are aware of the essential program management skills that every program manager should have, let us explore how a program manager is different from a project manager.
Program Managers vs. Project Managers
Program and Project managers work in different scopes regarding the same activities.
A program manager handles multiple projects and, sometimes, multiple programs. They handle how all projects are undertaken by an organization and offer planning in terms of interconnectivity and resource management. They build more extensive, more intricate, and more long term beneficial plans to an organization. Their primary objective is to introduce strategies that drive long term growth through consistent, better execution patterns.
Project managers oversee and manage the operations of individual projects within programs. They usually offer a clear start and end dates to meet short-term business objectives. Generally, speaking the role of a project manager is more tentative compared to a program manager.
Program management handles the undertaking of all projects by an organization. It is up to the program manager to ensure all interdependencies are revealed and resources are allocated based on necessity. To successfully introduce a program management plan, the individual must be equipped with a firm set of skills.
Essential program management skills form a foundation and offer a strong base for strategies that can be customized and adapted to any organization looking to streamline their activities. In 2020 it is key for program managers to be flexible and tech-savvy to produce the best possible results for their organization.
Certifications in program management and project management are available for qualified professionals to upskill themselves and improve their knowledge and expertise. Some of the popular project management certification courses that individuals and enterprise team members can take up are: