Start with governance
Before work on any major program begins, the governance structure needs to be defined. The essential element of this is a clear articulation of the roles, responsibilities and decision-making authority for all relevant programs and portfolios.
Not only does sound governance structure aid in decision-making, it also helps drive accountability within the program. With the right governance in place, authority is highest at the leadership level, while the majority of the day-to-day decision-making is owned at the project level. Project managers have the ability to succeed knowing that the decisions made at the program level are supported and enforced by the leadership, while program leaders save time and energy by enabling project-level decisions to be made at the appropriate level.
Governance structures can also provide a key link between the program and the overall organization strategy and initiatives. As the business changes strategic direction or introduces new initiatives, the governance structure provides a clear path for shifting program priorities. For example, if the company’s budget situation changes, the program executive leadership can work with the organization’s leadership to expand or reduce scope, as the budget allows, and is able to report those decisions down the command chain.
Additionally, as programs grow and new groups, vendors or partners are brought in, the governance structure clearly lays out how the new additions will interact and make decisions. Solid governance structures lay the foundation for collaboration and success because people entering the program know exactly where they fit in. New project managers know who they report to, and new vendors can quickly understand the decision-making authority of the program.