The ability of an organisation to successfully execute major strategic initiatives is fundamentally tied to proficiency in mastering programme management practices. Implementing business strategy through an integrated suite of projects typically presents considerable business, leadership, management and technical challenges that are profoundly demanding. Yet many organisations, while accustomed to the demands of managing individual projects, are ill-equipped to effectively handle the complexity of defining, organising, planning and managing larger-scale programmes.
However with the launching of the OGC (Office of Government Commerce) best practice methodologies for the Management of Programmes (MSP) in 2009 there is now a tried and tested best practice methodology for managing business strategic change.
If we are to consider programme management as strategic management then the following essential oversight is required of the programme manager (PgM) according to the MSP methodology:
- Benefits Management
- Stakeholder Management
- Effective Governance
The benefits management could be described as ‘where do we want to get to’. It is important that the PgM is involved at this level in assisting to define and analysis clearly stated benefits. It should include:
- A business vision
- A business case
- The programme objective
- A Stakeholder plan
Stakeholder management is of vital importance at this level. Senior business managers will need to be engaged with effectively if the strategic objectives of the programme are to be realised. Achieving buy-in from these stakeholders at an early stage will prove very valuable when the programme is rolled out and targets are set. A strategy for achieving this might be as follows:
- Set vision and level of ambition of future engagement
- Define criteria for identifying and prioritising stakeholders and select an engagement mechanism
- Focus on short and long term goals
- Conduct the engagement itself, ensuring equitable stakeholder contribution and mitigating tension while remaining focused on the issues
- Identify opportunities from feedback and determine actions, revisit goals and plan next steps for follow-up and future engagement
Effective governance is simply about how you do work. This in turn is dependent on the business structure, operating procedures, collaboration across functions and externals. Within the programme the key is to clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the senior management within and external to the programme. There must be strong supporting positions defined such as programme sponsor and steering committee with representations from key functions.