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Programme governance – a key factor to programme success

Programme governance – a key factor to programme success

Programme Management for Owner Teams authors Freek van Heerden, Jurie Steyn and Davida van der Walt explore the importance of programme governance .

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Corporate governance practices are built on the premise that the leaders of companies have an obligation to be fair, transparent, accountable and responsible in their conduct toward shareholders and civil society.

On programmes the following governance challenges are typical:

  • Management and governance are done by the same resources
  • Governance is poorly understood
  • Governance structures are not fit-for-purpose

In reality we have companies apply a one size fits all in terms of applying governance strictures on projects and programmes. The design of suitable programme governance structures is highly specific and is both organisation and situation dependant.  There is no single best practice applicable to all situations.

To ensure effective governance, consider the following principles:

Programme governance does, however, need to be fit for purpose and some of the considerations include:

  • Programme sponsor:  The sponsor takes responsibility for governance of the programme and is accountable to the company board.  The sponsor requires a clear terms of reference and delegated authority (mandate)
  • Company boards:  The board approves the execution of programme through the various stages and issues a mandate to the programme sponsor
  • Programme steering committees:  Steering committees play an advisory role to the sponsor and require cross-functional membership to reflect the stakeholders in the programme
  • Project steering committees:  These are required for sub-projects of sufficient scale, complexity and risk
  • Steering committee membership:  Membership must be confined to a small core group of ‘experts’ that can support the sponsor as well the leadership team of the programme or project.
  • Enterprise Project Management Office (PMO):  Ensure that the projects and programmes are executed according to the company project related procedures and governance principles;
  • Delegation of authority:  In contrast to individual projects, the programme cannot be effectively executed within the ‘normal’ approval limits.  It is advisable to delegate and set up appropriate commercial structures and approval levels to enable smooth turn-around of procurement documents.

 

For more practical lessons on programme management, please take a look at our book on the subject Programme Management for Owner Teams available on Amazon.

Team alignment on programmes – can it be done?

Team alignment on programmes – can it be done?

Programme Management for Owner Teams authors Freek van Heerden, Jurie Steyn and Davida van der Walt explore team alignment and its challenges on a programme.

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On a programme, alignment ensures that there is a common understanding of the owner’s business and project objectives, as well as the owner management team’s expectations.

On programmes the following alignment challenges are typical:

  • Key management stakeholders and decision makers do not align upfront on the frame / ultimate business objective of the programme. Poor upfront framing leads to multiple problems down the line
  • Project teams reporting into the programme do not always have a clear understanding of the bigger picture and the purpose of the programme.  They tend to relentlessly pursue their project objectives, not keeping sight of the programme objectives.

In reality we have found sponsors do not always take their role seriously in managing stakeholder relations that are of diplomatic or strategic nature.  The sponsor can play a huge role in pro-actively keeping key stakeholders abreast of the programme objectives and status, and avoiding stakeholder misalignment.

To ensure effective alignment, the programme management team needs to ensure that they have clarity on the items below and that all involved on the programme are aligned to these:

  • Scope: what they are supposed to do;
  • Business objectives: why they are supposed to do it;
  • Programme objectives/operating model: how they are going to do it;
  • Timeline: when they are to do it;
  • Roles and responsibilities: who will be responsible for what;
  • Budget and cash flow: what monies will be available to the programme, and;
  • Communication plan: how they will communicate about the programme.

 

For more practical lessons on programme management, please take a look at our book on the subject Programme Management for Owner Teams available on Amazon.

The maze of stakeholder alignment on a programme

The maze of stakeholder alignment on a programme

Programme Management for Owner Teams authors Freek van Heerden, Jurie Steyn and Davida van der Walt explore stakeholder alignment challenges on a programme.

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The ultimate objective of stakeholder management is to ensure successful execution of the programme by engaging the right people that could influence or impact the success or failure of the programme at the right time.

On programmes the following stakeholder challenges are typical:

  • Key stakeholders that could impact programme success are overseen and only identified one it becomes a crisis
  • Stakeholder identification and  stakeholder management engagement planning is done at the start of the programme and not updated through the programme life cycle

In reality we have found sponsors do not always take their role seriously in managing stakeholder relations that are of diplomatic or strategic nature.  The sponsor can play a huge role in pro-actively keeping key stakeholders abreast of the programme objectives and status, and avoiding stakeholder misalignment.

To ensure effective stakeholder identification and management:

  1. Stakeholder management on a programme should never be an ad-hoc activity or event. It should be a structured, yet dynamic process managed on a continuous basis throughout the lifecycle of the programme
  2. Stakeholder identification and engagement should consider company internal stakeholders, contractors and service providers as well as external interested and effected parties.
  3. The project team should consider who has an interest in the programme (positive or negative), and who could influence the success of the programme through exerting formal or informal power on the programme.

 

For more practical lessons on programme management, please take a look at our book on the subject Programme Management for Owner Teams available on Amazon.

Team wellness a challenge on your programme?

Team wellness a challenge on your programme?

Programme Management for Owner Teams authors Freek van Heerden, Jurie Steyn and Davida van der Walt explore team wellness on a programme.

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Programmes tend to pose the following team wellness challenges:

  • Team member’s careers may be seen as stagnant, since they stay in a certain position for a long period of time.  Hence employees tend to become demotivated and disengaged.
  • Programmes typically calls for a lot of travelling.  Inevitably fatigue as a result of extensive driving and flying sets in.
  • Temporary offices and site conditions may be less than ideal and overcrowded and unpleasant working conditions further contribute to work stress
  • Long periods away from home and the family may cause relationship problems and the breakup of marriages.
  • When traveling and working long hours, employees tend to neglect their health and fitness.

 

In reality we have found that there is a significant correlation between team productivity and the extent to which team wellness is pro-actively addressed on programmes.  If programme teams are not nurtured pro-actively, absenteeism and frequent illness tend be prevalent.

 

To ensure healthy and productive programme team members:

  1. Integrated team wellness programmes should be introduced pro-actively.
  2. Programme leadership should invest time and effort into individual and team wellness which contributes to a team feeling cared for and recognised.
  3. A strategy for developing promising individuals can be deployed in the form of is job rotation.  Plan succession planning in a structured way that allows new team members to take over.
  4. Do not oversee team members for promotion, and implement a recognition system on your programme.
  5. If possible, implement a retention bonus system.

 

For more practical lessons on programme management, please take a look at our book on the subject Programme Management for Owner Teams available on Amazon.

Leading a project…yes! Leading a programme. That’s another story

Leading a project…yes! Leading a programme. That’s another story

Programme Management for Owner Teams authors Freek van Heerden, Jurie Steyn and Davida van der Walt explore the importance of leadership on a programme.  Project and programme leadership is the ability to get things done well through others.

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Challenges in leading a programme:

  • Sponsors and programme directors attempting to micro manage projects rather than leading the programme
  • Sponsors or program directors being stronger at management or leadership, and not having a  balanced profile of being able to lead when it calls for it, and manage when it calls for it

 

In reality we have found that while the initial conceptualising of the overall programme occurs at the beginning, the programme development and especially the planning of individual projects happens in parallel to the final execution of other projects.  This requires the programme leaders to be able to constantly focus on both leadership and management.  However, as the work progresses, it is easy to start leaning to the management aspects.

 

To ensure effective leadership on programmes:

  1. Programme managers and executive sponsors should be aware that they are uniquely placed to make a huge positive or negative impact.
  2. The programme manager must continually develop effective leadership and behavioural skills and employ them as needed in an environment without the benefit of formal line management authority.
  3. Superior project leadership requires technical depth and management breadth.
  4. The programme sponsor, especially, can play a major role in ensuring that the business objectives and progress towards it is constantly reinforced and communicated to executive management and company boards, the programme leadership team, as well as all other stakeholders.

 

For more practical lessons on programme management, please take a look at our book on the subject Programme Management for Owner Teams available on Amazon.

Tracking programme performance is like herding cats!

Tracking programme performance is like herding cats!

Programme Management for Owner Teams authors Freek van Heerden, Jurie Steyn and Davida van der Walt highlight the importance of programme monitoring, reviews and evaluations. 

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Challenges experienced in programme tracking:

  • Because of the complexity of a programme, reports tend to be very long and cumbersome
  • Some programmes only track individual project progress and do not role it up to programme level

In reality we have found that stakeholders, especially executives, do not have the time or inclination to read a typical project progress report consisting of on average 50 pages.  The need is for concise up-to-date information at a glance.

 

So what can we do differently to ensure effective programme tracking?

Each key programme metric should be illustrated graphically in a single view showing whether the element is on track or not.

  • Every key metric should include a forecast of the end-state, whether it is end-of-job costs, estimated completion date or expected performance.
  • If any deviations are foreseen, you should state what corrective actions will be taken.
  • Continual transparency is required on where the programme is heading in terms of cost, schedule, quality and meeting the programme objectives.
  • Regular tracking and reporting progress against these parameters as the programme continues, provides transparency to all stakeholders and enables corrective action to be taken as soon as a deviation becomes apparent.

 

 

For more practical lessons on programme management, please take a look at our book on the subject Programme Management for Owner Teams available on Amazon.