Feb 28, 2010

The PMO Program Manager

Posted by Jeannette Cabanis-Brewin in Project & Program Management, Project Management Office (PMO) | 1 Comment

Alas, I am old enough to remember when there was some confusion about programs, portfolios, and multi-project management, a fog which has at least partly cleared thanks to the Project Management Institute's continuing work on standardizing the terminology and developing standards for the various roles related to "management by projects" (or the organizational elevation of project management). However, it is interesting to see the welter of definitions for a program that are out there, for example in the PM Glossary compiled by Max Wideman. One gets the impression that a program is whatever an individual company says it is; and the program manager role description is a moving target. When we developed the role descriptions in our book, we looked at hundreds of actual job descriptions. Here's part of what we included on the Program Manager:

Role Overview In large organizations with many project managers, project managers may be awarded "grades" based on their span of control. This position manages complex, strategic projects that span organizational boundaries, so Program Managers should have experience managing multiple high-risk projects, including projects involving external vendors and multiple business areas. This grade is a logical training ground for Manager of Project Managers, Manager of Project Support, Strategic Project Office Director, and CPO positions for the program manager with business acumen. When groups of related projects are organized into programs, this position may manage multiple project managers whose projects provide specific deliverables; all which must be collectively managed to provide the desired programmatic results.

Whew. As I read that I am reminded of the Cat in the Hat, who boasted he could "fan with my tail while I hop on a ball/ and that is not all! …" But seriously, as we have seen the PMO grow in stature and span of influence, those with program management skills have increasingly been in demand. They have the skills, honed in the coordination of many conflicting priorities, issues, and personalities, to assist a PMO Director in pursuing multiple objectives, each with its project or fleet of projects. It’s a natural training ground for the Portfolio Manager … and may even be the Portfolio Manager in all but name.

Here’s a great article about the Program Manager role by one of our PMO of the Year judges.

And, speaking of the PMO of the Year; check back here on March 2 for an announcement of this year’s application process, and links to the contest materials.


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1 Comment on The PMO Program Manager

paul lombard says:

Is it your experience (and I invite the experience of others) Does the Program manager support the PMO Director or vice versa?
  What guides that approach?

  I look forward to your response


Posted on June 28, 2010 at 10:45 am

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