Understanding the Interaction of the Program Manager with Project Managers

In this post, we will review the interaction between the program and project teams and how a program manager interacts with the various project managers on the program team including defining the flow of information and communication between project teams and the overall program. Here are a few important guidelines.

  • First, it’s important to realize that the program manager doesn’t directly manage the project teams. The program manager’s role is confined to ensure that the program stays focused on the delivery of the benefits, and that those benefits are aligned to the overall organization strategy. In that context, the program manager’s works closely with all the stakeholders and the program governance board and keeps expectations aligned. The program manager also maintains the overarching governance on the various program components.
  • Managing of the projects is part of the project manager’s job. The program manager’s interaction with the project managers and their teams is at a level where the program manager is focused on the program level outcomes and benefits. So, this means focusing on the project outcomes translate into program benefits and integrate with the overall program’s outcomes and benefits. It’s the project manager’s task to focus on the lower level deliverables and to map those deliverables to the program level benefits.
  • The program manager’s primary task is to know of the interdependencies between various projects and other program components. These program manager must identify and reconcile those interdependencies between projects to ensure smooth completion of projects as well as to ensure that the delivery of the overall program benefits aren’t impacted.
  • The program manager’s task is to resolve issues that are escalated from projects to a program level, especially if those issues impact multiple projects across the program.
  • The program manager must provide guidance to all the project managers on how he or she expects the flow of communication and other information to be between the projects and the program teams. For example, in this context, the program manager may define the communication of progress reports from the project teams, escalation of issues and risks, and so on.
  • In defining the overall interaction between the program and the components and projects, the program management team preferably defines a mapping between the program governance processes and the project management processes. This mapping clarifies the overall interaction between the two teams.

In summary, part of the program manager’s task is to define this interaction between programs and projects during the early phases of the program, preferably during the program initiation phases to ensure that the expectations are set accordingly with the project managers. This interaction includes the flow of information and communication between project teams and the overall program.

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