Program Management Software
Definition: Program management software is a range of PC-based tools designed to aid in the process
of managing a group of ongoing inter-dependent projects from concept to completion.
One of the biggest challenges in getting a product to market on time and within budget
is the simple fact that the production of even the most basic product requires the
management of several separate
projects. Additionally, these projects need to converge
to a single point simultaneously to result in the finished product.
Take a soft drink, for example. This most basic of products, while seemingly simple,
requires an enormous number of inter-dependent projects to get it to market. Not only is
there the development of the beverage itself, but there is also the matter of designing
and producing its packaging; the marketing of the product; the distribution, and a vast
number of projects that must go on in the background.
In addition to consumer product programs, program management is also an essential
ingredient in such enormous projects such as the organisation of Iraqi
infrastructure rebuilding by the US Department of Defence, NASAís Shuttle Program and
the White House itself.
Benefits of Program Management Software
Clearly, then, it can be a challenge to successfully synchronise the management of all of
these inter-dependent projects. For a product to be successfully launched on time and on
budget all of these projects need to succeed. Unfortunately, it is often the case that at
least one link in the chain is broken at some point along the way.
In order to minimise the risk of failure it is vital to ensure that the integrity of this
project chain is protected, and the most effective method of managing this task is to
install a system by which the entire program can be managed. Program management software
provides a support structure for a layer of management focused on the administration of a
portfolio of separate projects beneath.
Aspects of Program Management Software
In order to synchronise and manage a range of parallel projects it is necessary to ensure
that all projects within a program align with the goals, needs and value proposition of the
enterprise. Program management software offers a suite of reporting and planning tools broadly
based around the following areas.
Governance: Programs require a much more complex
governing structure than individual projects as their
failure can have a much more significant impact on the health of the enterprise as a whole
than the failure of a single project.
As a result, program leadership will accommodate multiple oversight for the management of
the program rather than the typical single management structure of the project. Program
management software will provide reporting tools for each member of this leadership group,
allowing them to monitor and track the progress of individual projects and the program as a whole.
Program management separates responsibility for the program across three layers:
At the lowest layer, project managers coordinate the planning, directing and controlling of
company resources to achieve a specific short-term objective.
In the middle is the program manager, whose primary responsibility is to ensure that the
individual projects align with the broader strategy of the enterprise. This involves setting
objectives and reviewing the plans of project managers to ensure that they conform to the
broader program strategy.
At the uppermost layer is the program steering committee and program sponsor/s, who define the
programís connection to the overall business strategy of the enterprise and provide policy for
all program members below.
Program management software provides for all of these layers a range of reports on budgets,
resource use and interim results detailing the progress of the program.
The tracking of expenditures forms a vital part of program management. The expenditures of a
program will typically be much more complex than those of an individual project, encompassing
the basic costs of the projects along with those broader costs of administration of the program
as a whole. Program management software offers reporting modules to aid CFOs and financial
analysts in the accurate tracking of expenditures, enabling them to make
on program success and areas of concern.
Clearly, the allocation of resources across a program can have a great influence on the cost,
and the overall success, of the program as a whole. Program management software provides
reporting tools enabling the monitoring of resource usage across the program, allowing the
Program Management Office to look at resource usage as a whole or drill down to the individual
projects. These tools allow management to make informed decisions about the best usage of resources.
Program management software allows for managers to create and update plans and objectives
throughout the life cycle of a program. Each project manager will create a plan that
outlines and predicts the usage of resources at the beginning of the project. These plans
will be reviewed and updated during the next planning iteration, allowing program managers
to track the progress of individual projects against their predicted progress and use that
information for the better allocation of resources.