One Program To Rule Them All

From the Voices on Project Management Blog
by , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Voices on Project Management offers insights, tips, advice and personal stories from project managers in different regions and industries. The goal is to get you thinking, and spark a discussion. So, if you read something that you agree with--or even disagree with--leave a comment.

About this Blog


View Posts By:

Cameron McGaughy
Marian Haus
Lynda Bourne
Lung-Hung Chou
Bernadine Douglas
Kevin Korterud
Conrado Morlan
Peter Tarhanidis
Mario Trentim
Jen Skrabak
David Wakeman
Roberto Toledo
Vivek Prakash
Cyndee Miller
Shobhna Raghupathy
Wanda Curlee
Rex Holmlin
Christian Bisson
Taralyn Frasqueri-Molina
Jess Tayel
Ramiro Rodrigues
Linda Agyapong
Joanna Newman

Recent Posts

Project Management Triangles and Integrated Reasoning

Best Practices for Managing Project Escalations

Questions from Project Management Central - Interviews

The Ying and Yang of Resilience

3 Tips For Simplifying Complexity

Categories: Leadership, PMOs

Program management refers to the process of integrated governance of several related projects to achieve an aggregate result that cannot be delivered by conducting these projects separately.

It may not seem like it, but you can learn a lot about the synergy available through effective program management from The Lord of the Rings.

In the novels and films, the characters of Gandalf, Theoden and Aragorn inspire and command others to be courageous and achieve great feats. Even before a battle starts, these mythical leaders inspire confidence in their men, carefully positioning them in accordance with their skills. Each man has tasks for each stage of the upcoming battle. But they are only effective when coordinated with an understanding of their individual strengths and weaknesses, and knowledge of how they can be used to support and protect each other.

Under a wise leader -- acting as a program manager -- the power of these warriors can be multiplied when coordinated properly. This synergy ensures that every battle they engage in, and every war they fight, victory is at hand. Yet if badly coordinated, the strength and courage of these bands of cavalry, archers, spearmen or swordsmen -- the leader's resources -- is wasted, despite whatever heroic skills they possess individually.

Program management is mainly concerned with managing stakeholders, which in the case of an entire program is a larger, more diverse and more complicated group of than is involved in an individual project. Their interests are different, sometimes contradictory, and their individual impacts -- whether big or small, for good or bad -- may be very significant to the success or failure of the entire program.

The daunting scale of such programs are often not fantasy -- but may appear to demand wizards and heroes to manage them, let alone manage them so that a proper synergy takes place from the different projects involved.

What kind of projects can be managed through a program?
  • Projects with a common outcome, that can create collective capability and share the same resources
  • Projects that have the same tasks, that serve the same customer 
  • Projects where their risks can be reduced when managed together
In such cases, "One Ring (Program) To Rule Them All" can bring advantages, not hordes of rampaging orcs and trolls.

Posted by Lung-Hung Chou on: July 27, 2010 01:55 PM | Permalink

Comments (4)

Please login or join to subscribe to this item
Project Management
Exactly, project management is not just an ordinary project plan, performance and goal. It is a uniformed strategy performed in the most effective way to get an excellent result, which makes professionalism and integrity easy to market.

Programme Manager, Scotland
Great analogy Roger. Puts me in mind of the major 'campaigns' that organisations face when attempting transformation and why these efforts so often run into trouble. The commonly repeated error is that the senior management team fails to treat their many (silo based) interdependent initiatives as a cohesive programme.

Scott Henderson.
Programme Manager, Scotland

Great analogy. The most important part but most difficult part also as a project manager is to build a strong team with each team member put in right position.

Question 1: Which of the following is NOT an activity type in Project Management? a) Level of Effort b) Unplanned effort c) Apportioned effort d) Discrete effort Question 2: A new Project Manager takes over a project during execution phase. One of the main issues faced by the project currently is that the customer complaints of poor visibility of the project. What should be his first step towards resolving the issue? a) Have a discussion with the customer to understand why he feels the project lacks visibility. b) Hold a discussion with the team members who have been in this project since beginning to understand customer specific communication needs. c) Go through the communication management plan to understand customer communication requirement and whether it is being addressed properly. d) Project manager should first understand the project and go through project management plan to understand the project properly. Question 3: Your project team is involved in estimating cost of the project as a part of project cost management. Which of the following tool and technique will NOT be applicable for the purpose? a) Cost Benefit Analysis b) Reserve Analysis c) Cost of Quality d) Vendor Bid Analysis Question 4) You are a Project Manager managing a large team at diversified locations. There are many groups within project like architects, human resources, legal, quality engineers etc with their own hierarchy and reporting structure. To ensure that each team member has clarity on their own and other members reporting structure you decide to capture all this information graphically. You would be using which of the document for the purpose? a) Project Organization Chart b) Resource Breakdown Structure c) Organization Breakdown Structure d) Resource Assignment Matrix Question 5) Which of the following statement DOESNOT describe the essence of Integration Management in context of Project Management? a) Balancing of competing objectives and the exploration of alternative actions. b) The processes and activities needed to identify, define, combine, unify, and coordinate process and project management activities within the Project Management Group. c) Integrating different components from the development cycle to create the final deliverable. d) Managing interdependencies among Project Management knowledge areas

Please Login/Register to leave a comment.


"Nothing worth learning can be taught."

- Oscar Wilde