What's New This Week?
To coincide with June’s PMO Conference 2016 we’re featuring material relating to all things PMO this month. PMOs have had a really mixed press throughout their development; notoriously difficult to launch successfully; even harder to sustain beyond an average life of only three or four years and subject to the whims of senior management.
Navigate through the P3O section of the site to learn more about all aspects of designing, managing and developing project, programme and portfolio offices.
This month our featured author is Dr. David Hulett FAACE. David is one of the world’s most influential commentators on cost engineering. He has developed concepts and methods for quantitative analysis of project schedule risk and of integrated cost – schedule risk that have been adopted in industry and by organizations such as PMI who set the benchmarks that we all look to on projects and programs. If you don’t already know David’s work, then jump in and find out more. David Hulett’s profile
Everyone Needs a Programme
I can’t remember exactly when the shift took place in the project community from projects to programmes but I do think that in 2016 the eyes of many of the PM community are firmly fixed on benefits, value, change management, building capacity and all of the other elements so closely associated with programme management.
What has driven this change? Let’s look at it from the perspective of the railways. Building a railway from London to Birmingham would have been a project in Victorian times. In the 2020’s, on the other hand creating the High-Speed (HS2) link from London to Birmingham (and beyond) is very much a programme. The clue is in the business case: Investment in infrastructure can help growth in regional economies. Transport infrastructure can create opportunities for regeneration and by improving connectivity and in effect bringing cities closer together – opening up new markets, new job opportunities, and new opportunities for growth. It can help rebalance the economy rather than accentuate existing divisions. The Strategic Case for HS2, Department for Transport, 2013. Despite the fact that there’s a neat graphic to illustrate the point, there is no getting away from the fact that this is uncertain (can help … can create), that it is complex (no one can show the exact correlation between this investment and the planned benefits); that it depends on the behaviour of citizens – we need to go out there and grab the new job opportunities, they won’t simply drop into our laps and, finally, that there is a big question of whether this is all value for money.
Programmes are designed precisely to manage these issues in the way projects never can. They can be aspirational and allow us to explore uncertainty; they understand that only users can realise benefits (by changing their behaviour); they can address uncertainty – environments where we cannot know the correlation between cause and effect before we start; and they can get to grips with value because value management allows you to explore and express value in things other than straight monetary measures: in social capital, environmental capital, natural capital … and finally they reflect the fact that we don’t have all the answers or all the skills when we start, because programmes are about building the capacity to do new things.
Like everything else related to business, there are well-run programmes and there are less-well run programmes. With that proviso I return to my headline: everyone needs a programme; without them what chance do we have of resolving the challenges of mass-migration; of climate change; of increasingly ageing populations (in the developed world); of shrinking natural resources and of all the other huge questions that we now face?
June 2016 sees the launch of the Second Edition of Gower Handbook of Programme Management, edited by Dennis Lock and Reinhard Wagner.