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The Synergy of a Well-Run Program

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In my last post, I used The Lord of the Rings to help explain the difference between a program and a project. And I also revealed the magical prize of a well-managed program: synergy.

Let's discuss an example in Taiwan: The country has been pursuing a series of e-government initiatives for some time, including an "e-Business" smart card.

Users insert the card into a reader, which then provides access to more than 30 different online government services. The options include business information, marketing and tax databases, tax return calculation, patent applications -- to name a few.

Business people no longer have to go to government offices, spend time telephoning officials or advisers, or print, collect or post physical documents.

The bottom-line savings are substantial. Over one year, a single business might save US$100. Multiply that by 5 million businesses, and the cost savings are around US$500 million. More importantly, it means businesses have access to information and their government whenever they want it.

This is the "synergy" I'm talking about.

But why does such an initiative have to be run as a program, instead of as multiple projects that need coordination?

In this case, more than 30 projects across different application areas are involved and they share a group of IT and telecom resources. With the need to exchange resources, and communicate both vertically and horizontally, a higher level of governance is needed.

Program managers and project managers have different focuses and see things differently. Program managers are primarily concerned with the coordination among projects, while project managers are primarily concerned with the management of their own projects. But working together, they can create that magical synergy.


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When Projects and Programs are rightly aligned it provides the benefits or outcome expected from any strategic initiative. From that perspective it is important to note that while Program addresses the strategic goal at macro level and provides efficient way to use allocated resources, the project still is focuses on the granular tasks needed for the overall progress.


Its nice example to illustrate diferrence between program and project management. Where Project Management is responsible for maintaining tripple constraints, Program Management focusses on coordination and synergy between all linked project. In order to get sucess of overall program one must be aware of dependency on WorkPackages as this is crucialy.

The last but most important thing is to know expectation of stakeholders and also keep a watch on negative stakeholders as they turn out to be devastatinge in execution of program.

Great example. Without the all important coordination element, the Project Management environment becomes competitive in response to shared (which is usually perceived as 'scarce') resources.

Programme Management allows the dynamic between projects to be collaborative rather than combative and it is this quality that makes it possible for synergies to be realised.

Great example in the post of a program that benefits from being run as a program rather than a silo'ed set of projects.

I think you could add as well a greater sense of focus on the ultimate goal of the program and alignment of projects as such, strategically and financially, as one of the outcomes of running a program.

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