By Anita Potgieter, COO at FOXit
Program management or programme management
This is the process of managing several related projects, often with the intention of improving an organization’s performance.
The Program Manager has oversight of the purpose and status of all projects in a Program and can use this oversight to support project-level activity to ensure the overall program goals are likely to be met.
This can be done by possibly providing a decision-making capacity that cannot be achieved at project level or by providing the Project Manager with a program perspective when required, or as a sounding board for ideas and approaches to solving project issues that have program impacts.
But there are clear and distinct differences between the traditional roles and that which involves technology. Let us consider a few of the main responsibilities that fall under the role of the Programme Manager.
When it comes to contributing to strategy, policy and procedure, in the traditional role projects get executed for whichever executive screams the loudest. When technology is brought into the equation, specifically the Portfolio Analytics in Microsoft Project Server 2010, projects can be prioritized based on the strategic drivers of the company.
Emotion needs to be taken out of the equation when selecting projects that is based on the company’s strategic drivers. By utilizing technology, the system will point out which projects should be executed based on those drivers and within cost and resource constraints. Regulatory projects can be forced-in, which will then cause less aligned projects to be “kicked” or moved out.
Budgetary control of the programme of projects
Traditionally speaking, this control would mean saving contracts on a file, then sharing via email and meetings. With technology, contracts can be published to the document library. This will allow for collaboration on documents. Suppliers can collaborate together with the project team if they have got permission to log on the project site.
Even though meetings with suppliers/contractors need to occur face-to-face at certain points in time – by using the collaborative features of Project Server, there might not be a need to have these type of meetings as regularly.
As with any project, there are issues and risks at the programme level. Historically this process involved status meetings with individual project managers to determine risks and issues.
With technology each individual project manager logs risks and issues on the project site. The Program Manager can draw a report on risks or issues at any time, without having to phone around.
By having the ability to draw reports of risks and issues, it will avoid spending time on low priority problems. The Programme Manager will have more time on hand to look at real problem areas.
The project manager
A project manager is an individual in charge of the delivery of a project in order to generate specific project deliverables/outcome or results that fulfil requirements of project management such as scopes, cost and time by consistently leading and directing the project from the initiation to closure.
Project managers in the future need to have sufficient comprehension of technology to stay ahead of the game.
From a project management point of view, managing and leading the project, in the traditional sense, calls for daily/ weekly project meetings or walking-the-floor to determine latest updates.
Using a product like Project Server 2010 can remove a lot of the painstaking work that goes into ensuring a project is running according to schedule.
Collaboration features of the underlying SharePoint will ensure that people can work together without sitting in the same meeting room or even office. If resources capture their timesheets on Project Server, project schedules will be automatically updated and the project manager is only required to vet that the process has been done correctly.
Using another example, in the case of the development and maintenance of a project plan, the traditional role calls for a meeting of the entire project team to scope the project.
Schedules are drawn up to correlate with available resources and maintaining the schedule incorporates progress meetings and updating of that which is completed.
With technology, the project team meets to scope the project and the schedule is published to the project server. The team can then view the schedule if they have access to the Project Centre or, alternatively, on the project site. Updates and maintenance of the schedule is done by capturing of timesheets by resources.
What a dream! With one look at a Project View, the Project Manager can immediately see whether tasks are still on track or running late, over- or under-budget.
This saves the PM time, searching (especially on large projects) through hundreds to thousand lines on a project schedule.
In essence technology has made a lasting impact on core processes and procedures within the project and program management spectrum. There is little doubt the industry has changed fundamentally thanks to the advent of solutions.