What is Program Management?

In the SEO-centered world we live in, there are certain buzzwords we need to know to amp up our résumé and entice technical or executive recruiters. We’ve got our common buzzwords such as strategic planning, Six Sigma and Lean Six Sigma Black Belts (which has nothing to do with Karate or Tae Kwon Do), Long Term Evolution, and now, Program Management (PM). But before claiming it as one of your core competencies, you need a crash course on PM 101. 

Program Management refers to the management of several interconnected but independent projects that have the same overall goal. It’s kind of an umbrella for several projects that aims for a particular objective. These projects have one goal, and that is usually to improve the organization’s performance and increase the bottom line.

It is often used as an alternative to, or is confused with, project management. The two are different in that a project often delivers a certain fixed amount of change in the organization. A program, on the other hand, enhances the overall performance of the organization. Hence, the two differ in scope and objectives. Program management has a wider scope while project management covers only one aspect.

The program management team takes charge of the overall functioning of the program. The program manager has supervision of the purpose and status of all projects in a program. He monitors the progress of each project and evaluates them accordingly. He can use this supervisory authority to support project-level activities to make sure that the overall program objectives are met which may not be possible at project level. Program Management ensures organizational objectives are met including service reliability and enhanced customer experience (which ultimately results in increased customer loyalty and retention). These objectives can be met by working closely with clients to deal with issue resolution, conducting customer surveys, and notifying clients of any events that may impact them.

The two are also different in terms of time. The project is a one-time deal and is time-bound. In 6 months to 3 years, the project may be finished. A program on the other hand, may be ongoing for an organization.

For example, imagine a wireless operator wanting to launch LTE/4G service. In order to do so they will need to purchase a brand new network with a completely new set of technologies. They will also need to re-train all the sales, customer care, engineering, and operations teams on the new technologies. In addition, this new LTE/4G service is a new platform that will allow the company to deploy new services and features to customers in a very rapid deployment cycle. Therefore, they will be deploying new services every 3-4 months and require a phased approach to marketing, and launching these services and new devices (i.e. smart phones, tablets, etc…).

Hence, program management serves a wider scope of integrating the various projects so that the overall effect will be more beneficial to the organization.

For some, program management is defined as exclusively part of an Information Technology (I.T.) department. In reality, it extends beyond technological practices as it involves management of related projects, establishment of technical and businesses processes, audits, implementation of continuous process improvements, and application of performance metrics and/or benchmarks.

Program management is gaining ground in the U.S. since it gives companies a better grasp of the projects from a macro point of view. It is cost-effective because similar projects may have the same problems that can be addressed using the same methods. It allows the organization to experience best-practices within the project level.

Program management simplified prevents the organization from not seeing the forest for the trees.

CEG Partners is experienced in consulting, executive recruiting, and technical recruiting. Our recruiting practice includes – IT recruiting, IT staffing, Telecom staffing, as well as sourcing IT consultants for many of our clients. Our consulting practice includes – Program Management, Six Sigma (and Lean Six Sigma), LTE (Long Term Evolution), Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Process Improvement, Customer Loyalty, and Employee Surveys.

Please contact us for all your consulting and recruiting needs whether you are a job seeker or an employer.