With a new team, I like to ask: ‘What do you think the user or client would
not be able to do without this project or product?’ Not-so-good answers are
related to product features—for example, in IT projects for oil companies, an
answer like, ‘With this project, the company will increase its data backup capacity.’ I try to coach the team toward answers that are more like the following:
‘;is project helps the company achieve its target production for barrels of oil
this year.’ ;ese questions help teams express the program or project value for
Focusing on the business value for the client has helped my teams select the
best solution for each project, facilitate decision-making on product construction methods and prioritize projects within the program.”
—Jose Rafael Alcala Gomez, PMP, is a project manager for Avalon Tecnologias de la
Informacion in Madrid, Spain. He has managed programs for an oil and gas company in
Latin America and a national government in Europe.
Understand the bigger picture—and the people in it.
“Developing a program plan is a means of ensuring that you successfully
achieve the organization’s objectives. Learn to visualize how the projects and
operational activities ;t within your plan. ;is will connect the dots within
your program, as well as externally with other programs and projects, to ensure
stakeholders’ engagement and a successful program.
It’s also especially important as a program manager that you really know
your project teams’ personalities. Some of my team members were introverts
and valued control, while others were extroverts and valued social interactions
and showing excellent communication skills. Understanding their personalities
gives me, as a program manager, a better sense of whom to select for which
projects. In program management, di;erent projects require di;erent types of
project managers. You need to know who is best to lead a fast-paced project,
who can handle a project with a lot of ambiguities and who is best for a project
that is politically sensitive.”
—Jihan Al-Sherif, PMP, is a principal consultant at Software AG in Doha, Qatar.
The Talent Triangle
Considering making the leap from project to program management? Keep the “talent triangle” in mind.
While technical skills are at the core of project and program management, they’re not
enough in today’s increasingly complex and competitive global marketplace. Companies are
seeking added skills in leadership and business intelligence—competencies that can support
longer-range strategic objectives that contribute to the bottom line.
The ideal skill set—what PMI calls the “talent triangle”—is a combination of technical,
leadership, and strategic and business management expertise.
Practitioners looking to move into program management should focus on filling skill
gaps to meet the profession’s evolving demands—and seizing opportunities to become
a strategic partner in business success.
is a means of
ensuring that you
to visualize how
activities fit within
—Jihan Al-Sherif, PMP, Software AG,
; 2015 Project Management Institute. All rights reserved