How to Manage Complex Programs

High-Impact Techniques for Handling Project Workflow, Deliverables, and Teams

 How to Manage Complex Programs

Author: Tom Kendrick, PMP
Pub Date: May 2016
Print Edition: $34.95
Print ISBN: 9780814436929
Page Count: 336
Format: Hardback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814436936

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Programs are complex—sometimes very complex—collections of projects. Successful program management begins with a good command of project management processes, but these are never sufficient. Once a project exceeds a certain scale, project processes become unwieldy. To make the methods of project management effective, the work must be decomposed and organized into a set of interdependent undertakings that can be autonomously executed. Program management challenges include dealing with complex hierarchies in three main domains: deliverables, workflow, and staffing.

System deliverables require up-front analysis to decompose them into a hierarchy of understandable components. Successfully developing complex systems requires that each part is sufficiently independent to permit parallel development, with interconnections with other components defined thoroughly enough to warrant confidence that they can be successfully integrated and function effectively.

Significant programs will involve thousands (or many thousands) of activities, overwhelming general project planning techniques. Developing practical, effective schedules for the work begins with decomposing program work (often along similar boundaries as the component deliverables) to limit what a single project plan must contend with. This process involves trade-offs and a goal of minimizing the number of linkages and handoffs where workflow transitions between the related projects.

Program management also requires developing an “organization chart” hierarchy for staff, ensuring that it is clear where in a large community of contributors each high-performing project team fits. Developing an appropriate layered structure for programs involving multiple distributed (often global) teams and project leaders can be challenging. Leadership, including use of effective program management office (PMO) techniques, is essential to motivating and coordinating the large staffs required by complex programs.

This book describes, using examples, how program management extends and builds on project management methods, and it demonstrates techniques for organizing and managing large, complex undertakings.

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