Co-authored by: Deepak Kikan
Here is our point-of-view on program management for the next-gen enterprises embracing digital transformations and digital initiatives. We solicit your feedback and thoughts based on customer interactions and experiences.
Program management is being challenged in the current digital age to operationalize strategic plans. In the digital world, enterprises cannot afford failure of innovation-driven digital transformation programs due to poor execution, as competition is too fierce and the time to market is critical. Driven by the speed of business change, advancement of digital technologies and customer-centric transformation programs, business plans are dynamic and program success metrics are being replaced from traditional metrics of cost, quality, and time management to business-outcome driven metrics. Effective program management translates strategic vision into operations, delivering higher value and faster realization of business benefits while creating scale and collaboration within the enterprise.
Key Trends Impacting Program Management
Innovation and speed of change is transforming the way digital programs are delivered and it is influencing the role of a program manager. Some of the key trends impacting program management functions and overall digital transformation are:
- Accelerated pace of business change: Innovative digital initiatives and digital technologies are driving enterprise growth where the opportunity window is very short and one needs to capitalize on ideas faster to beat the competition. Prototyping and MVP driven development for faster delivery is becoming the common practice and the program manager is expected to ensure that outcomes are achieved quickly and initiatives are aligned with the business vision.
- Digital technology advancement increasing program complexity: Various advancements in digital technology e.g. cloud, artificial intelligence, machine learning, IoT, robotics etc. are driving the complex programs of modernization and modern application development within the enterprise. Program managers are expected to drive strategic plans by balancing the operational realities.
- Increased adoption of Agile ways of working: Adoption of scaled agile frameworks e.g. SAFe, DaD etc., and other digital technologies for enterprise delivery has driven changes in the roles of program managers from monitoring and control to an integrator, facilitator, and coach for Agile teams. Program managers help with the prioritization of business initiatives, support release management aligned with business goals, facilitates communication and manage interdependencies across Agile teams.
- Product-centric approach: Many enterprises are now adopting the product-centric view during their digital transformation where programs help execute new builds or enhance exciting product line capabilities. Program managers work with business sponsors to define program direction and report progress on the achievement of business outcomes.
- Operating model transformation: Fundamental changes to the operating model due to team constructs, distributed locations, cultural differences, multi-vendor involvement have challenged the traditional ways of program management, Agile frameworks, and require more collaboration and communication with different teams.
Role of The Program Manager in the Digital Age
This is the bigger question that is thought about when wearing the traditional PM glasses, but to summarize, the PM must focus on the following:
- Operationalize the strategic plan: A key role of the program manager in the digital world is to drive strategic plans while keeping an eye on the ground reality. Since many programs run across business functions and departments, PMs are expected to have the capability of seeing the bigger picture and abridge organizational silos. Managing interdependencies and incrementally delivering business value aligned with business goals are key success parameters for PM performance.
- Incubate a culture for Collaboration: Complex programs run across many multi-division and multi-vendor execution teams. PMs need to drive collaboration across stakeholders, coordinate cross-functional activities, and communicate regularly across different teams to achieve the goals.
- Stakeholder Management: Managing the expectations of business sponsors, business and IT teams, and key stakeholders while keeping them aligned with business goals are key to the success of the program and its program manager. PMs are expected to spend enough time in identifying key stakeholders, their stated and unstated needs, and ensure that they are supportive toward the program goals.
- Managing Demand Dynamics: Business requirements change quite frequently in digital programs because of environmental or market factors that cause a rippling effect on resource demands. PMs need to foresee this and ensure that there are sufficient resources available well before time to avoid any delay in execution.
- Measurement and Automation: Real-time status checks on the move is a blessing that every stakeholder looks forward to, and hence, driving adoption of tools, Agile ways of working, and defining financial and operational metrics for both Agile and tradition execution methodologies for their program is a must for PMs. Every program is measured by the value it delivers and therefore defining SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely) KPIs to measure the business benefits of the program is essential.
HCL program management
HCL has the digital @ scale centre of excellence under Digital and Analytics (DNA) that ensures the program management utilizes modern day processes, techniques and tools to drive the customer transformation programs to success. HCL’s program management effectively translates strategic vision into operations, delivering higher value and faster realization of business benefits while creating scale and collaboration within the enterprise.