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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Executives need to understand Program & Project Management

As a firm believer in continuous improvement, I have always been monitoring the external environment to find new trends and equip myself with this knowledge. One of these interests was understanding more about Program and Portfolio Management. Although I had executed successfully a few program initiatives and been part of the strategic portfolio management, my interest to pursue Program Management certification became strong with an announcement of Project Management Institute on Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act (President Barack Obama Signs the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act, 2016). It was then I made a commitment to pursue PgMP certification which I passed successfully this month.

During the pursuit of this journey, I felt the inexorable gap in strategic leadership not truly understanding the value of Project Management - let alone the program management. Many viewed program management that focuses on benefits delivery and benefits sustenance the same as project management that focuses on unique product or result. Mark Langley, the CEO of Project Management Institute, claimed how the lack of understanding project management culture among chief executives such CFO leads to money being wasted on projects failing to meet their strategic objectives or not having the appropriate structure for strong project management culture is a recipe for organizational failure (Langley, 2015).

If the culture of project management that touches on scope, schedule, cost, quality, risk, stakeholder, procurement, human resources, communication, and integration can't address servicing customers, delivering good quality products, and retaining talent, what other professional discipline can be part of the operational excellence that touches on all areas of middle management to address customers, products, and people? It is no wonder Ireland (2006) claimed almost ten years back why executive management needs more project management skills than technical skills or delegation skills to effectively lead the organization. Several years later, Gale (2012) reports during a number of organizations as a case study to support the case for increasing role of project management.

As I went through the program management framework that lays the foundation for for strategic benefits, coordinated planning, complex interdependencies, deliverable integration and optimized pacing, the role of program management in benefit delivery was conspicuous. The focus of programs not only dealt with incremental benefits delivered through component projects but also on the consolidated benefits through structured governance to resolve quin constraints aligning the program efforts to organizational direction, identifying and responding proactively to risks across the projects and into operations, and leading, coordinating and collaborating multiple work streams. When such a program level leadership role is not identified to go through a program delivery framework, lots of productivity loss becomes transparent to the organizations.

Organizations today are changing dramatically. The need to respond to changes rapidly is an essential fabric to maintaining market share amidst the political, economical, societal, technical, legal, environmental, ethnic, and demographic changes and competitive edge. So, the need for executives to understand the project, program, and portfolio management is not a luxury but a necessity.


Gale, S.F. (2012). The case for project management. PMI Executive Guide. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from

Irelend, L. (2006). Executive Management's role in project management. International Project Management Association. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from

Langley, M.A. (2015, August 6). 3 Things CFOs Should Know about Project Management. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from

President Barack Obama Signs the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act (December, 2016). Project Management Institute. Retrieved August 31, 2017, from 

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