What is Program Management?

The term program management is a relatively new one, introduced in the last several years to denote the overall management of a series of related, ongoing projects within an organization. Taken together, those related projects make up a program. If your company is launching a new product, for example, a series of projects are likely occurring in different areas of the company, including engineering, sales, marketing, and distribution, to name a few. Managing all of those projects effectively toward a common goal or business objective is program management. A team, perhaps drawn from - or called - the Program Management Office, or PMO, may be set up to manage the overall program.

A program needn't be a new product launch. Integrating a newly acquired company into the existing enterprise might be set up as a program, for example, with attendant projects involved integration of disparate sets of customer data, training new employees, marketing efforts to manage the new brand, human resources chores to meld two HR systems, and more.

There are many advantages to using program management to manage related projects, although it can be challenging to pull off well. Issues like governance and risk can be managed more successfully if a single umbrella team is coordinating efforts, since the program team has an overall view of processes and progress that individual project leaders lack.

Changes can be managed much more effectively as well - for example, even a tiny alteration to a product's functionality or looks has repercussions to many of the project teams. Completing all the related projects within a program while staying on budget and on schedule is far more likely with good program management than without it - which is why the concept is growing in popularity.