Programme Management is not a collection of projects. That is not to say it includes a collection of projects; a programme is much more than that.
Projects can be bigger than programmes, although this doesn’t happen often. The reason why this can be said, is to try and make you think about why this can be?
Conventional thinking, and the way the project management industry is going is, people want to be a project manager, and then move up to a programme manager. But some projects are better to stand alone and not be part of a programme.
The only reason to place projects into a programme is if the sum of the individual projects is greater as a whole. Otherwise, run them all as individual projects, without the need of a programme, and save cost/budget on programme management overheads.
So what is a programme?
If a project is about outputs (tangible outputs you can touch, feel, see), Programmes are about outcomes and benefits. They also focus on shared resources, business and organisational transition. They enable the organisations strategic outcomes.
Projects are usually measured against success on time, cost and quality, where as Programmes success criteria is usually cost, benefit and risk (projects still focus on risk, but there tends to be slightly differing approaches on projects and programme risk; please read more on the risk section).
Some benefits of programme management are resources (people) saving time in getting up to speed on jargon used within the programme, and what the organisation is trying to achieve (vision) and how (blueprint). Resources gain a familiarity with the ‘way of working’ or culture within the programme, and the opportunity to move resources around from project to project, without having to recruit for each individual project (which could otherwise cause unexpected delays on individual projects).
Some of the bigger business benefits are around co-ordinated change to an organisation. Co-ordination not just of which projects go live / are delivered by when, but also how they are transitioned in the organisation and ‘bedded in’ with the organisation and at what speed; this part can affect / enable the benefits to be realised.
Programmes are not ‘BIG’ projects. Projects have outputs you can touch, feel, see. Programmes are about outcomes and transitioning change, embedding the change and realising the benefits. More to come….