Criteria Program versus Project?

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Program and Project Management > Best Practices > Criteria Program versus Project?

Criteria Program versus Project?
Michelle Breslin
I am trying to develop general criteria for determining if a group of projects should stay projects or if there is enough interdependency to make them a program or one large project.
Anyone having theory or guidance on what type of criteria or questions to use to help to make this determination?

Same Processes, Stakeholders, Governance
Codrin Nicolau
Very interesting issue. Having in mind that in a program benefit management, stakeholders management and governance should count first (see PMI Program management standard), I think that research should focus on similar/same processes found in particular projects in the group, in order to "standardize" them and transform the group in a program. Find also if projects are conflictual or synergetical in respect to resources or results. Through this optimization benefit can start to be managed (this is particular to programs). Second, see if it is about same/similar stakeholders and the same "project marketing". Third, see if the same governance schema can be applied. Of course this is more to say, but this is a start.

Same High Level Objectives
Jean-Michel DE JAEGER, EMBA, PMP, Project Manager, France, Moderator
In my opinion, to make it as simple as possible, if we go back to basics program characteristics, if the group of projects have the same high level objectives and then only, you can manage them as a program.

Programme or Multi-Project
Dennis van der Spoel, Management Consultant, Netherlands, Member
- A programme consists of various activities, including one or more projects, that contribute to attaining a COMMON GOAL. This means the outcomes and benefits of the activities reinforce each other for greater impact towards the same (strategic) objective.
- A multi-project environment is a collection of projects that draw from the SAME RESOURCE POOL or the SAME BUDGET, which therefor calls for priority ranking between projects.
Project portfolio management is the art of selecting the right projects and prioritize accordingly.

Program versus Project
Dave T
Yes, a programme concerns the management of a portfolio of projects, the combined outcomes from which the business benefits are derived. You need to measure if your projects (or are they work-streams) are related or not. If they are related work-streams then it could be said they form a programme. All feedback on this is really stating the same thing.

Detailed Criteria for Determining Project versus Program
Mellacheruvu Adi Saasthry , Director, India, Premium Member
Following somewhat more detailed criteria/guidance to help determine the decision for a program or (collection of) projects:
- What is the ultimate goal Vs our organization goal?
- By executing these projects are we going to get there as per our vision and strategy?
- Are all or group of your projects related?
- What are we achieving by executing these projects?
- Who are the beneficiaries? What are they achieving?
- What are the business drivers?
- What is the business value?
- What are the various technologies that should be leveraged?
- What are the CSFs?
- What kind of dependencies (resources, technology etc.) exists between projects, can they be executed in isolation?
- Can these projects be executed separately identify the risks (if any) and identify all the assumptions and constraints.

Criteria Program Vs. Project
Fulvio Polo, Italy, Member
Hi Michelle an idea may be:
- Find the projects terms, items, components by analyzing each project.
- Try to give them a numeric value or qualitative attribute
- Use a technique like clustering analysis or similar, in order to group together the projects.
- Probably every group generated can be an unique project.

Program Versus Project: Practical Considerations
Richard Davis, Management Consultant, United States, Member
Hi Michelle, all of the above have a common thread (similar goals), but look at the practical side as well. Will creating an overarching program benefit the business in any way?
If the projects are large, they already may have administrative overhead (project administrators assigned to them.
* Can the creation of a program reduce the administrative overhead by consolidating these support resources? If it does, there is a clear improvement to the projects' collective business case (reduced administrative costs).
* Is there a long-term benefit by assigning a program manager that can create consistency of vision across multiple projects/long phases? If so, the business may want to bear the additional cost of a program manager rather than re-teach new project managers whenever one changes.
Look for other clear benefits you can easily quantify, rather than theoretical benefits, and you'll have an easier time selling the creation of a program organization.

Program versus Project
T. Stahl
The process to determine this is simple:
1. Ensure that your program has a good goal statement.
2. Ask this one question: is the project in question vital or key to the accomplishment of the program goal?

Criteria Program versus Project
David Dicanot, Analyst, France, Member
The different provided criteria make me think we can't define and launch a programme before having a clear definition of the set of projects which it consist of.
So, what about the conversion of a strategy in a programme or a projects porfolio?

Program versus Project
Mudukula Mukubi, Business Consultant, Zambia, Member
If the respective projects target the same clientele, with evidence of mutuality of goals and a clear benefit in sharing both management and financial resources, then there is a case for declaring them a program.
On the contrary, if the said projects have disparate target groups or unrelated aims, they may be better running in their separate ways, even if there could be a unified chain of command.

Program versus Project Management
A program is a super set of all projects. If all projects share the same technology, manufacturing process, design then one can apply a common strategy to all projects and create a program for that purpose.

Criteria for Program versus Projects
Vaibhav Behere
A program may be created if a group of projects
1A) has common beneficiaries AND
1B) are interdependent
2A) serve a set of business goals or function or service AND
2B) to logically re-align resources and reduce overheads
Technology may not necessarily be a factor to be considered prior to the creation. A program may also impact communication in a positive manner as it brings people on a common platform.

Program versus Project Management
@Vaibhav Behere : in my experience, in hi tech industry, technology does matter. In production, different products built using the same technology have many common features and issues.
Hence same strategy could be used in the execution.

Criteria for Program versus Project
Vaibhav Behere
@Sweety: I do agree that technology very much matters in a way that it addresses the stated objective. A program, as against a project, need not have a technological constraint, since it is initiated with a wider objective. Once initiated, technology, location, resources, vendors etc. may be looked into to meet those stated objectives.

Is Common Technology a Reason for a Program?
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
Firstly, if many projects are using the same major techology, that can be a clear example of "interdependence" (1B) as Vaibhav called it.
Secondly, grouping such projects could also be seen as a way to re-align resources and reduce overheads (2B).

Program or Projects, Criteria to Be Defined
Luis, Manager, China, Member
- Do these projects serve the same business purpose or objectives?
- Are there any dependencies among these projects?
- Will these projects be finished almost in the same period?
Note that sometimes projects can and have to be re-defined, so that it's easier to group together as a program.

Best Practices of When to Have a Program Rather than a Project
Dennis van der Spoel, Management Consultant, Netherlands, Member
A program: when you need an effective way to attain your bounding (primairy) objective through benefits. A program can be used to achieve:
- Organizational changes (change managers)
- Development of capabilities (business managers)
- Development of enablers (project managers)
So if you do not have a bounding objective or no need for organizational changes or new capabilities, stick with your projects.

A Program is Like a Federal Governing System
Ashok Kella, Manager, India, Member
Is every block of a program independent, and is producing its own individual output and scale enough?
Or should it work as a block, and synergy must be ensured in its functioning to make good of their interdependency. Should their resources utilization be optimized? It should work like a federal governing system.
What would be under a program team and sub teams of projects should be clearly defined.

Program versus Project(s)
George Lobb, Canada, Member
- PROJECTS: There is a clear time-bounded extent inherent in a project... Projects are generally short-term endeavours with a limited-scope that is physical deliverable.
- PROGRAMS may take the outputs of one or many projects and use them to deliver outcomes over a period of many years. Its scope may change as conditions and the environment change.

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