What is a Programme Manager?

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 11-Jul-13

(for the purpose of simplicity in this post, program=programme)

The definition varies quite significantly between industries and even organisations, and to some extent appears to vary depending on understanding of what programmes are.
Looking at recognised programme and project management bodies the definition of a programme is:

A group of related projects and change management activities that together achieve beneficial change for an organisation.” Association for Project Management

The ultimate goal of a Programme is to realise outcomes and benefits of strategic relevance.
UK Government Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

A Programme Manager is generally regarded by those bodies as the individual responsible for delivering the programme benefits to the organisation. With programmes having a longer/ongoing timeframe than projects, there is an impact on the tenure of Programme Manager.

However, looking at numerous job adverts and related key responsibilities, job descriptions, and by talking with individuals in numerous industries it is clear that the job title can be used to describe:

  • the Programme Manager as defined by the recognised bodies (as above), or
  • A senior manager responsible for overseeing numerous projects, with a common strategic link, or
  • A senior manager responsible for overseeing numerous projects, regardless of strategic link, or
  • A senior project(s) manager responsible for delivering numerous projects to their individual objectives, or
  • A senior project manager responsible for delivering a large/important project.

The further down the list, the greater the anecdotal evidence that the job title is used to reward good project managers, to differentiate or provide career path, or to avoid the use of the “director” word because of any implied legal jurisdiction.

So, what is a Programme Manager to you?

Top 10 Project Management Trends for 2012

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 04-Apr-12

The guys at ESI International have summarised their perspective on the Top10 Project Management Trends for 2012, which if you’ve got half an hour to spare is worth a view. Follow this link to see it on YouTube.

Happily most of the messages are consistent with the advice we’ve been giving our clients over the last 6 years or so, but it’s great to hear the thoughts supported by one of our peers.

If you haven’t got the time to watch the video, here we’ve summarised the key points:

  1. program management will gain but resources remain in short supply,
  2. collaboration software will become an essential business tool for project teams,
  3. learning transfer will become the new mantra but with little structured application,
  4. agile blends with waterfall for a new “hybrid” approach,
  5. smarter project investments will require a stronger marriage between project manager and business process management (BPM),
  6. internal certifications in corporations and federal agencies will eclipse the PMP,
  7. more PMO heads will measure effectiveness on business results,
  8. good project managers will buck unemployment trends,
  9. client-centric project management will outpace the “triple constraint”, and
  10. HR professionals will seek to identify high-potential project managers.
    Let us know if you have any views on what you think is missing from the list.

Project Management – productivity tools

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 20-Oct-10

We read this article in Small Business Trends with interest at the office this morning. There were no great surprises in terms of the list (there are a lot more than 12 out there that we know about), but it’s astonishing how quickly they move on.

It’s also interesting to see the view from a non-project management background interpreting what there is out there – interesting reading!

What new tools are you using to help improve your productivity in Project Management?

How to Hire the Right Project Managers

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 01-Sep-09

We are now reading that the recession is over and we need to be investing for growth. That means you need great project managers. How do you find the right people?

First and foremost you want to find a person that has a genuine passion for project management, but a leaning to project leadership. Don’t look for technical skills (which will divert the manager from the project objectives), but do look for project management skills, i.e. someone who knows how to eat an elephant, how to ask the right questions, and is a great communicator, with common sense. Find a team player, with proven leadership qualities.
In search for this ideal candidate you will of course need to prepare a person specification and a role description.

Our project management resourcing service can provide 1st class outsourced project managers on a full or part-time basis, or if you want to invest in an employee for the long term we can help recruit project managers and coach project managers through their induction to get them up and running in a time served manner.

If you need help investing for your growth, contact the ProjExc – the Birmingham project management consultants  or email with your number for a call back.

ProjExc – desired outcomes, on time and within budget.

Project Management Software – Beware the Coach Before the Horses

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 27-Aug-09

There are some excellent project management tools out there, both in the traditional licenced applications space and in the already crowded Project Management software as a service (SaaS) or ‘cloud applications’ arena.

At ProjExc Project Management Consultants we are often asked what is the best tool. As is often the case this little question deserves a bigger answer. We have experienced that it is critically important to first define how project management is (or should be) done in a business. At that stage it is appropriate to search the market for the right tool to support what makes the business special and successful. Sadly all too often we are invited in after the business has already been committed to buying the tool, despite what it needs to do not having been identified.

We are constantly watching what is new on the market, and a new SaaS application has come to our attention this week. Project Minder from IRIS looks good. It has a nice interface, we like the look of the GANTT chart (this matters to a lot of people) and applaud their attention has also considered resource utilisation. Sadly to the best of our abilities we have not yet found the pricing on the website (without unleashing their sales team), and in our experience that means that there is some bad news to hide.

As mentioned it is launching in a busy space occupied by the likes of BaseCamp, Huddle, Liquid Planner, Pelotonics, Wizehive, Wrike, and a whole lot more. Many of these are going through significant updates at present so in the next few months there may be a lot more option open to those who want to use some straightforward tools to improve the success of their projects. We are working though an article for our Project Management Portal reviewing many of these tools in more detail, and if you would like us to include your favourite tool, do drop us a line with some details.

If you are looking at systemising your project management in order to improve visibility and success rates, then call us to arrange a free, no obligation, discussion on what you need and how best you might achieve it in the most cost effective way.

Web Designers and SEO Companies – we can help you!

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 11-Aug-09

New websites, and the related online marketing techniques that good web marketing companies use, are projects.

Using solid and appropriate project management techniques, we have learnt that we can help online marketing companies to:

  • improve bottom line profits,
  • improve cash flow, and
  • improve customer satisfaction

all at the same time. It sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t, and we have testimonials to support that.

What’s more, for West Midlands based companies, we may also be able to help you get government funding to cover some or even all of the cost.

If you’d like to find out if we can help your internet business, contact us and we can have a confidential, free, no obligation conversation about what we could do. Call ProjExc or email using the link on this blog.

We Cannot Afford a Project Manager

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 26-Aug-09
At ProjExc, we often meet clients who have previously fallen into the trap of believing that ‘anyone can manage a project’ (more on that in a separate post).  It’s interesting to observe that learning this in all-too-painful a way is often followed by another trap.  That is believing that ‘we can’t afford a proper project manager’. Generally we find this just isn’t the case, but it’s any easy and dangerous assumption to make.

Firstly, let’s consider the costs of not managing a project properly (see the list* below for what we think of as a project in this context).  Firstly we know that UK business projects fail (to meet their objectives) at a rate of around 70%.  Generically, 70% of UK business projects are late, over budget and/or don’t deliver the anticipated outcomes.  At a headline level this means that:
a.project profits or financial benefits are seriously impacted, and/or
b.there is a knock-on effect on other projects or operations down-stream, and/or
c.customer or end user satisfaction is negatively impacted, leading to reduced confidence, lost reputation or even lost follow-up work.
Of course there will be other significant costs relevant to your organisation/industry.

With decades of focused attention on project management and leading, or sitting in on, hundreds of project reviews there are very few instances where the cost of failure was less that it would have cost to manage the project professionally.

So how do our clients manage their projects cost effectively?  A priority is to get the right person.  Someone who is highly competent (skilled and experienced) at managing projects to success and comes with a toolkit which they understand how to use.  Next consider how much they are actually needed, and balance that with the budget.  Often a part-time project manager is much more effective that a full timer.  At ProjExc we support a number of clients on a part-time basis.  This normally starts with a burst of effort in preparing a useful project management plan.  Effort reduces to periodic interventions for control & reporting during project execution and then there is often another burst during project closure.

If you would like to explore how ProjExc could help you deliver your projects successfully contact us in whatever way works best for you.  Initial consultations are free and without obligation.  Call ProjExc, email us, or find out more about our part-time project managers on our website

*By a ‘project’ we are thinking about:
1.BUSINESS CHANGE (e.g. cost base reductions;  define & implement vision, strategies & set & follow action plans; office moves; implementing new systems; diversification)
2.NEW PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT (i.e. taking an idea, defining the concept, reviewing feasibility and viability, piloting and taking to market), or
3.EXTERNAL PROJECTS (i.e. product deliveries, service deliveries or system integrations)

Project Management Tools and Software

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 07-Jul-09
We have now started compiling the latest update for our PM Tools and Software Listing for our Project Management Portal.

If you use something and would like to tell us a little about it, we’d love to hear from you.  Ideally please provide a rating (1-5, 1 poor, 5 amazing).  Similarly, if you provide a tool/service/template for project management, do let us know.  If we think it’s worth listing we’ll take a look and may provide a rating and link.

We’re open to your suggestions on any project management tools – software, SaaS, cloud applications, collaboration tools, templates, and more.

Feel free to comment on this blog, or drop us an email: Email ProjExc

Professional Project Management – Introduction for Business Leaders

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 15-Jun-09

The Challenge.

ProjExc PM Consulting work with business leaders who are frustrated because their projects fail to meet their objectives*2, are anxious about the risks that they are taking in their projects, concerned about cash-flow, or just desperate to get a competitive edge. Most SME business owners/leaders recognise that project management is the pre-eminent business capability of the 21st Century. They may even offer project management as part of their service, but are put-off from bringing proven techniques into their business either by concerns about cost or a fear of additional administrative overhead/burden.
The Good News.
ProjExc have techniques, which not only work for big businesses like BP, Tesco & Nokia (to name but a few) but are also proven to be totally scalable to the SME market, regardless of whether they are looking at business change, new product development or client delivery projects. What’s more, ProjExc have found a way of packaging this capability for SME owners for just £1,000. That buys true competence development for a director in the form of skill acquisition and experiential learning, meaning that the benefits are more quickly and sustainably recognised quickly.
A Unique Opportunity.
This innovative development package includes:
•Project Management capability audit & report
•1:1 Project Management introduction workshop
•Computer based training, and examination for, the APM*3 Introductory Certificate
•10 hours of access to a ProjExc project management coach, to help put the knowledge into practice efficiently.
For your peace of mind, ProjExc are so confident of their methods that they provide a 1,000% return on investment guarantee, and amazingly, you may even be eligible to gain funding through business link under their director training programme.
Benefits to your Business.
•Gain a clear understanding of where the project management gaps are in your business,
•Quickly plug those gaps, and improve the outcomes from your projects – delivering what your customers want, on time, and within budget,
•Rapidly and significantly improve profitability and customer satisfaction,
•Position your business to take advantage of growth as we come out of recession.
Find Out More.
To take advantage of this unique opportunity for you and your business contact John Williams directly by calling or email info@projexc.com.
For more information about ProjExc visit our website: www.projexc.com.
1. ProjExc are a small specialist project and programme management company based at the Innovation Centre at Longbridge Technology Park in Birmingham. Their consultancy work takes a 3 step approach to ensuring project success which starts with finding the right methods for project management within a business, then sources the right tools to fit with those methods, and then ensures that the competence is in place to use those methods and tools.
2. UK national and international project success rates are staggeringly low. Latest research (Standish Group 2009) suggests that only 32% of business projects meet their objectives, 44% are challenged (late, over-budget or out of scope) and a staggering 24% fail (cancelled before completion or completed and never used).

3. APM is the UK Association for Project Management.
4. This offer is supported by BusinessLink West Midlands and for a limited period only.

To PRINCE2 or not to PRINCE2

Originally posted on the ProjExc Project Excellence Blog on 20-May-09
As regular readers of this blog will know, we have mixed views on PRINCE2 usage.  We note that The Centre for Project Management Practice 2009’s debate is focussing on one of the most hotly disputed topics in current project management research and practice today.
2009 sees the introduction by the OGC of the 4th version of PRINCE2 (which hopefully will be much more pragmatic in it’s approach) yet some academics decry the capabilities of formal ‘bodies of knowledge’ and practitioners can see them as strangling their projects in bureaucracy.
Visit www.aston.ac.uk/cpmp for more information of what looks to be an interesting session.