Digitization is all about high performance and customer service – it is not a technology issue! Consequently you have to govern activities both in Business and IT. As a Programme Manager, you will need to govern in a mix of the vertical line organisation and horizontal leadership with a frequently questioned mandate. Your “contract” with the Programme Sponsor is crucial to effective programme management.
Earlier I wrote about the strategic planning executed by the key stakeholders (about 20 senior managers and executives). Now I will write about governing the execution.
The programme has three basic governance phases. The first – The Analysis – is very often driven with little or no impact on the organisation. Few people are involved. The second phase – The Factory – is mostly driven within a “Cheese dome”. The programme includes a number of projects, the organisation is aware of the programme and it is very obvious what is in scope or not. Nothing goes in or out without clear procedures. The third and critical phase is the Effect Realization phase. In this last phase you will have projects within a central project portfolio and local projects, and line internal activities. Now you actually have a real programme! The governance model must evolve over this three phases.
Most people I meet have an “either/or”-view on this issue. Either you have the line organisation or the project management (separate from the line). To mix them would blur the situation, and the transformation itself might blur the life for many individuals.
My experience in roles like programme manager and change agent is very clear. You must mix! This mix of governance is interwoven in the team of key stakeholders – I name them from now on as the Strategic Transformation Team (STT). They “own” the strategic plan because once developed, they will strategically review it 3-4 times a year. Strategic Transformation Team is in some sense a subordinate of the Programme Steering Committee.
The programme manager who supports the steering committee has two important tasks. First, he maintains the programme structure with specific mechanisms for planning and controlling, like a prefect. Second, he drives the Central Project Portfolio. The Central Project Portfolio includes projects with strong dependencies and critical resource conflicts. Other projects, with weak dependencies and insignificant resource conflicts (named as Local Projects) will be driven by Operational Sponsors in collaboration with the programme manager. The same planning and controlling mechanisms apply for both categories of projects (central and local).
You cannot run to the Programme Sponsor or the Programme Steering Committee every time an issue occurs. You need a more operational committee with concerned senior managers to manage operational coordination, issues and imbalances – I call this team the Working Committee. This committee is essential to manage the programme on a daily basis and keep up the speed.
I earlier wrote about the transition from Analysis to Execution (actually Factory) as a very critical step. Many clients lost momentum and direction in that step. It is the same challenge when you go from Factory to Effect Realization. You must adapt to keep the speed without losing direction.
Unlike the first transition, the difference here is that now there are many hands to help. While it is advisable not to refuse this help, the challenge is to maintain the momentum and direction. I come back to the same three absolutely essential ingredients for success:
- The contract with my programme sponsor
- Programme governance structure adoption
- Leadership to integrate the mix of two different kind of governance (vertical and horizontal)