Many organizations simply apply a reporting veneer on top of projects that share a common objective and consider that program management. But programs are investments in their own right, and need to be managed independently of the projects from which they’re comprised. True program management establishes the top-down program-level controls needed to manage them as independent investment entities, while seamlessly connecting the associated projects to easily assess both top-down and bottom-up performance at any time.
Improve top-down planning.
Programs must be treated as independent investment entities – which are much more than a simple rollup of project information – which can be prioritized and funded accordingly. With strategic top-down perspective and more effective collaboration with executives, business goals can be objectively prioritized and broken down into a hierarchal set of actionable business strategies. These drivers of business transformation are then put into action through programs which are further decomposed into specific projects that support the program.
Establish appropriate governance controls.
By establishing proper governance processes, organizations can control funding and investment analysis for all programs from cradle-to-grave to improve visibility across all enterprise investments. Standardizing resource, schedule, financial structures and key performance metrics at the program level helps to consolidate data and drive the reporting and analytics required to enable periodic reallocations of budget, funds and headcount.
Build program-level business cases.
Business cases capture top-down program information including cost and benefit assessments, resource estimates, risk assessments and strategic impact assessments. With inventory standardized, multi-year business cases can be scored and funded at the program level based on a variety of dimensions, helping the organization to make better investment decisions.
Generate projects linked to programs.
By dynamically aggregating the projects which support them, programs become the bridge between business strategy and project execution. Organizations can easily establish and maintain the links between programs and the underlying projects from which they’re comprised, enabling the organization to quickly compare and contrast top-down and bottom-up information.
Status reports at the program level.
Status reporting can be a logistical nightmare, with too much time spent manually reconciling data and building reports. Automation frees up time for more strategic activities like analyzing the portfolio, identifying issues and taking corrective action. Program level status reports normalize and unify information at a consistent level across the organization, providing standardized performance metrics across both agile and waterfall projects and automated status reporting to track project and program health.
To ensure maximum business value, organizations must constantly gauge the economic impact of poor project and program performance. Increased financial and strategic intelligence helps organizations proactively gauge the economic impact of underperforming projects, assess investment viability through early warning indicators like Strategic Yield, and monitor investment alignment with strategic priorities. This insight helps drive quick action to reallocate funds and rebalance portfolios throughout the year to optimize spend and maximize ROI.
The business case used to approve a project or program is rarely leveraged to determine whether or not it delivered the intended results. Robust benefits realization captures information at both the project and program level, enabling the organization to track benefits and quickly identify investments that fail to realize projections, meet targets or are misaligned with strategy. Benefits realization also documents lessons learned and identifies opportunities to improve governance processes.