Program management thus represents a central discipline of multi-project management.

The Project Management Institute, PMI defines a program in its standard “The Standard for Program Management” as:

The term “multi-project management” is often mentioned in connection with the management of several projects. In the scientific discussion, the delimitation is proposed as follows:

“Multi-project management is the overall umbrella term for holistic management of a project landscape through appropriate organizational structures, methods, processes and incentive systems.”

“A program is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually. Programs may include elements of related work (e.g. ongoing operations) outside the scope of the discrete projects in a program “.

And program management as:

“Program management is the centralized coordinated management of a program to achieve the program’s strategic benefits and objectives”

The following figure illustrates this definition.

Program management thus represents a central discipline of multi-project management.

The different relationships and backgrounds between the program, project and project portfolio are clear from the comparison.

It becomes obvious that program management deals with project topics on a different level than classic single project management.

Consistent planning and resource optimization is also not carried out.

Program management thus represents a central one:

Projects have a narrow scope of services with specific work results  Programs have a wide range of services, which must be able to change in order to meet user expectationsPortfolios have a business scope that adapts to the strategic objectives of the organization
A project manager tries to keep changes as small as possible  Program managers must anticipate changes and even encourage themPortfolio managers continuously monitor changes in the wider environment
Erfolgskriterien sind: on time, by budget, products delivered to specifications   Success criteria are: return on investment (ROI), new range of services and benefits / value addedSuccess is measured based on the overall performance of the portfolio components
Leadership style is geared towards completing tasks and fulfilling the success criteria  Leadership style is focused on relationship management and conflict resolution. Management of the political aspects in the stakeholder environmentManagement style focuses on the value added in the decision-making process for the portfolio
Project managers manage technicians, specialists, etc.  Program managers manage ProjektManagerPortfolio managers manage or coordinate portfolio management personnel
Project managers are team players who motivate with their knowledge and skills  Program managers are leaders who offer visions and leadershipPortfolio managers are leaders who offer insight and design
Project managers carry out detailed planning to manage the delivery of the project’s products  Program managers generate high-level planning as a guideline for the projectsPortfolio managers generate and maintain the necessary processes and communication in relation to the overall portfolio
Project managers monitor and control the fulfillment of tasks to deliver the products of the project  Program managers monitor projects and ongoing work through management structuresPortfolio managers monitor overall performance and value indicators

Challenges – from practice

In consulting practice, however, there is still an occasional view that program management can be reduced to managing multiple projects based on classic individual project management – the rest is leadership.

Especially in large organizations with self-sufficient organizational units (divisions, divisions, business areas, areas, etc.), decision-making for the selection and prioritization of programs and projects takes place decentrally.

Particularly for programs and initiatives that span several self-sufficient organizational units, it can be observed that in many cases, when project budgets are released, the projects are not prioritized with regard to the company or group strategy and thus aligned with the overarching company or group benefit takes place.

If decisions on saving measures are taken in individual, autonomous organizational units to re-prioritize project budgets, with the result that individual projects are postponed or discontinued without the dependencies on projects within a program being taken into account, the expected strategic corporate benefit cannot be achieved. If the use of comprehensive program management is dispensed with, the project can ultimately neither be steered nor controlled

In addition, the “project maturity”, ie the level of maturity or level of development that an organization has in program / project management, is often very different, both between the organizational units and at different hierarchical levels. This applies particularly to internal projects in which the Client for management programs rather than for organizations whose business model is the execution of customer order projects.