Program Mgmt Software vendors

The co-ordinated management of a portfolio of projects to achieve a set of business objectives...More

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.

Program Management SoftwareIn 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.

programme managementAs 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.

Management: 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.

Financial Management: 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 informed decisions on program success and areas of concern.

Infrastructure: 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.

Planning: 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.