Categories: Program Management
Given the lack of understanding about the work of program managers, I thought it would be helpful to explain their role by using a restaurant as a metaphor.
Think of the kitchen as the project management office (PMO), menus as the programs and each dish as a project.
The chef is the program manager. The restaurant owner and manager rely on the chef to create the menu, which has to reflect the restaurant's cuisine, but with a range of affordable (yet profitable) dishes. The chef must then supervise and motivate others to cook the dishes.
Cooks are like project managers. They're responsible for executing the dishes designed by the chef and ordered by the customers. Other kitchen staff members are like the project team, helping create each dish successfully.
Restaurant managers are like general managers in a project setting. They coordinate the different arms of the restaurant, supervise the staff, order supplies, take care of the accounts, pay wages and handle customer complaints. However, they rely on the chef to ensure the restaurant is successful.
The restaurant owner, manager and chef meet regularly to discuss business. These discussions are the restaurant equivalent of strategic planning. The chef learns what's required of the menu (or program) and how much money is available to spend on preparing dishes (or projects).
In a lot of companies, the owner, manager and chef are all the same person. Yet many people can't successfully perform all three roles.
The restaurant owner and manager may want to be involved in the cooking, but it's far more effective if they have the support of a properly trained chef.
The same is true in the business world. We need to spend time educating CEOs and general managers about the benefits of working alongside a properly trained program manager.
Then we won't just have great restaurants, but great companies.
What do you think? How does having a defined role of a program manager help organizations?