I think it is always very important to be able to understand subjects from various levels and different dimensions. The macro and the micro. the long-term and the short-term, ouput and outcome, etc.
In my experience, very few can be effective program manager. And remember, if you are a effective program manager, you are calm and you have a clear vision of the direction and how the pieces fit together.
1. Think big picture
A common misperception about programs is when they are viewed as one big project. Keep in mind that a program is an interconnected set of projects that also has links to business stakeholders and other projects. Adopt a ‘big picture’ attitude to the overall program and avoid fixating on a single project’s details.
2. Create a project manager trust model
As a project manager, you develop trust with individual contributors performing delivery activities. As a program manager, you have to develop trust with project managers. Create a common interaction framework with every project manager for progress reporting, resource management, etc.
3. Encourage project managers to say “so what?”
As a program manager, you will deal with additional reports, metrics and other information that you didn’t experience as a project manager. Encourage your project managers to start dialogs with “so what” outcomes. This will get right to the direct impact on the program. Have them support these outcomes with relevant information from their reports, dashboards and metrics.
4. Establish credibility with business leaders
With programs, customers are typically in business functions. Immerse yourself and your project managers in their business. Training, site visits and status meetings held at business locations are good ways to immerse your team in the customer’s business.
5. Develop long-distance forecasting skills
Forecasting several weeks in the future is satisfactory with a project. However, a program with projects moving at different speeds and directions requires a longer forecast horizon. Set your forecast precision in terms of months, not weeks. In addition, look for multi-project forecasting considerations such as holiday blackout periods and external project dependencies.
What have you found effective to make the mental leap from project manager to program manager?
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Michel Dion, PMP, CPA
Founder and Developer of Project-Aria
Discover my book:
Leadership Toolbox for Project Managers: Achieve Better Results in a Dynamic World