Organizations often combine effort to drive towards their strategic objectives and goals via Programs. Programs are where related projects – each separately managed – are brought together under a leader called Program Manager to ensure synergies and convergence of effort.
While each project manager will surely drive towards the success of individual projects, it is important to also look at the “Big picture” and ensure that efforts across common activities and areas achieve synergy. This helps to obviate duplication of effort and resources as well as proper dove-tailing of systems, applications and processes. Working in silos – as most projects can be sometimes – does not help the organization march to the overall strategic tune set by the top management. That is the preserve of Program Management.
Taking an example from history – launch of Apollo 8 (which took astronauts close to the moon) and Apollo 11 (which took Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the surface of the moon) were projects, which was part of the larger “Apollo Program”.
When the Soviets had sent the first cosmonauts to Space, it was President J.F. Kennedy’s clarion call for American leadership in space led to the vision that propelled the Apollo program and the missions that ended up put humans on the moon. NASA’s overall Apollo Program management ensured that deliverables from each of the missions (projects) dovetailed to achieve the larger goal of American space leadership.
PMBOK defines a program as:
“A group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually. Programs may include elements of related work outside scope of the discrete projects in the program.”
A program manager usually manages a combination of projects and sub-projects to achieve a certain objective and goal.
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