IT Program Management: Shared Vision

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IT Program Management: Shared Vision

David Diaz Castillo, MBA, PMP Panama City, Panama

Organizations often group several related, individual technology projects into a larger program. The strategy is to complete these projects in a more cost effective way and to gain strategic benefits to the organization by avoiding overlap or gaps. However, it is vital that the software project manager convey to the project team the real business objective that their individual project must achieve, as well as how this team aligns to the other projects. He/she must also understand how the achievement his “specific” project goals, contribute to the success or failure of the overall program objectives. Here are some key tasks.

1. Find the connections that expand the importance of this project beyond its mere stand-alone value.

2. Define the relationships, deliverables, and risks shared between all projects in the program.

3. Keep all the team members in alignment with the final solution that the program is trying to achieve.

4. Understand the business, to propose solutions aligned to the strategic objectives of the program as the inevitable problems appear.

This concept of bundling projects into programs is not very mature in Latin-America yet, but our experience managing programs with a common set of governance policies is growing. Clearly there are rich benefits to be found when each team has a clear vision of the entire program goals, not just their own project work.

The most difficult thing is get the buy in from vendors, clients, sponsor and other stakeholders. We need to analyze their interests, requirements, and needs to be sure there is value for each of them when we group technical projects. Every group must gain more value than if their project was completed in a vacuum.

Particularly when customers span many countries, they will all have different ideas of how technology should be created, and unique organizational procedures and processes. Agreement and approval on internationally recognized program management practices is fundamental in order to begin the alignment of all stakeholders to program goals.

To have a successful methodology, we need common, but flexible documents or templates that we are going to use for all projects. When we manage Information Technology (IT) programs, we typically need goods or services from vendors with their own unique methodology and templates, or outputs from other projects being run simultaneously with are own. So before we begin, all parties have to agree which documents we are going to use.

What will our project management methodology be? If individual project teams can’t agree on what methodology, procedures, processes, and integrated change control steps will be adopted by all teams, the smooth co-development of projects to serve the program good will fail. When choosing, the software project manager needs to ask the team which template and practices are reasonable and useful to help them to execute and control their projects efficiently.

Once you have a common process and document/template tools, you are in position to coordinate technical projects into programs. These provide greater value to your customer and your organization than single projects done alone.

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