The Evolving Role of an ICT Programme Manager
An ICT Programme Manager is the person ultimately responsible for managing a team of highly skilled Project Managers to successfully deliver business critical projects that are high quality, on time and within budget for our customers. This is the person that is both accountable and responsible for bringing it all together and ultimately making the magic happen!
Traditional programme management is a thing of the past. It was previously considered to be a very disciplined and deliberate planning and control method. Today, it is about defining solutions quickly and demonstrating both a strong and direct business impact. It is about being quick to market, responsive to change whilst also showing the customer a fast return on investment.
‘Joining the dots’ between strategic goals and project delivery is expected. You need to think more strategically and understand how the objective of your programme is aligned to the customer’s overall strategic goals. A Programme Manager cannot be afraid to challenge the customer to ensure the solution being delivered is fit for purpose. In fact, our customers expect it.
Today organisations have extremely complex business processes and complex multi-vendor outsourced partnerships, all of which are introducing lots of new issues. As a result there is no longer a one size fits all framework. Blended programme management is key. Programme Managers have to become flexible and versatile using a combination of project methodologies.
It is hardly surprising that working for a fast paced IT solutions provider on customer sites brings plenty of challenges. With competing priorities, changing resource requirements and budget constraints you simply cannot afford to take your eye off the ball.
Managing the people aspect of change is often overlooked. Outsourcing and moving to a managed service is a huge shift in how an organisation operates. The fact is the technology part is often the easy part. The team need to have the right level of emotional intelligence in order to manage the people aspect of change that will help you ultimately achieve your goal. All members of the team have to be both cognitive and well prepped to deal with this and know how to help bring everyone on board. There are 3 stages - transition, steady state and transformation. We know we have reached the pinnacle point when we are working in true partnership; collaborating and innovating as one team.
This is extremely important. What the customer wants and what they need are not always the same. This is why understanding exactly what the business need is and what the customer is trying to address with the technology is a fundamental part of ensuring the programme will be a success.
The value of having buy-in from key stakeholders at initiation should not be undervalued. With competing priorities and constant changes it is imperative that when issues arise the right people are available to make decisions that satisfy both the business and IT team’s needs. ‘Chinese whispers’ and ‘lost in translation’ continues to be a common pitfall. At Ergo we ensure that all of our Project Managers devise a strategy for governance and communication at initiation and formally agree it with the customer.
Key Takeaways for ICT Programme Managers
- Strategy: Don’t underestimate the value in understanding exactly what your customer is trying to achieve with the technology stack that you are delivering. If they do not align you will fail before you start!
- Communication: The power of communication is key. Make it simple, efficient and repeatable. Use weekly status meetings, monthly steering and daily stand-ups to manage your communication.
- Risk Management: Identify your project’s strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities. As the saying goes, "if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”– Benjamin Franklin.
- Transparency: An open and honest relationship is a must! Working collaboratively with customers to find solutions will ultimately give the best results.
- Shared vision: Supporting and empowering your team whilst ensuring they have the right tools to do the best job they can will ensure you are on the road to delivering a successful project.