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Managing to Go Green

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Is it expensive to build and run a green factory? I had been wondering this before meeting Chuang Tzu-Sou, director of the new fab planning and engineering division of the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company. His opinion: "Not at all!"

The construction cost of TSMC's 14th semi-conductor manufacturing plant, compared to older facilities, only increased by 1 percent. And while the budget for "Fab 14" ("fab" is short for fabricating of semiconductor chips) was US$50 million, it is expected to easily recover this cost in electricity savings within the next five years.

One of the major cost savings resulted from rethinking the industrial boiler. A major part of Fab 14 would be a boiler facility costing almost US$2 million -- industrial boilers are an integral part of the semiconductor manufacturing process, but they emit a vast amount of wastewater and carbon. Yet after researching alternate production methods and taking a close look at available technologies, they managed to do away with the boiler facility. That resulted in cuts in both Fab 14's building costs and carbon emissions once operational.

Mr. Chuang, the program manager, thinks this cost-saving measure was possible only through a manager's ability to understand and motivate workers. He felt his technicians were individuals who tended to be most capable of solving problems on their own. However, being scientifically trained and aware of business constraints, they would go with what they knew would solve a problem. They are pragmatists who evolve their knowledge slowly and are not prone to experiment with new solutions. So Mr. Chuang realized he would need to inspire them, remind them of the bigger picture, encourage them to keep an open mind and give them sufficient time to search for new solutions. 

These cost-savings affected just one building of a facility that's part of a bigger factory complex. So how did Mr. Chuang and his technicians expand savings across all Fab 14 buildings and activities? He again encouraged his team to think outside the box. His technicians devised a way for the hot air generated from semiconductor production to be circulated to other buildings and work areas for their own use, such as for air conditioning. This created an additional US$230,000 in electricity savings. 

The technicians also developed a way to purify large amounts of wastewater, enough to supply half a million people with clean water for daily use. Apart from improving the efficiency of Fab 14's construction by recycling 90 percent of the wastewater (one of the highest rates in the world), this also cut supply and recycling fees. This meant a combined savings of up to US$88 million annually.

Based on this experience, Mr. Chuang and his team realized that improvements in individual areas didn't amount to huge savings. Instead, it was making sure improvements were sought across the whole factory complex and at all stages of production. It was the creation of a green supply chain that made a change toward sustainability both possible and profitable, and TSMC is now trying to put that change into place for all its Fabs. The ultimate plan is that this will help stimulate other industries to do likewise and cause improvements for generations to come.

While the vision for this program came from Morris Chang, the chairman of TSMC, it was realized by Mr. Chuang. Mr. Chuang succeeded by focusing on the bigger picture offered by the whole program, instead of getting mired in the problems of individual projects' technical difficulties or budget overruns. By relating Mr. Chang's vision to an organizational mission, Mr. Chuang ensured short-term problems and opportunities were dealt with in a way that fed strategic long-term goals.

Learn more about Fab 14 in this video, and about Roger Chou, PgMP, on his Facebook page. How have you made green projects profitable?

Read how a fellow project practitioner is making the most of advancements in sustainability in "Biofuel From Seed to Factory," in March's PM Network.

In Good Company: Project, Program and Portfolio Management

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At the end of this month, Cloud Gate, a Taiwanese dance company, will celebrate its 40th anniversary with the performance of a new routine, "Rice." Its founder, Lin Hwai-Min, has received international recognition and awards, including the United States' Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement in Choreography in 2013, Germany's International Movimentos Dance Prize for Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009 and Time magazine's Asia's Heroes award in 2005. 

"Rice" looks to be a culmination of the company's past four decades of work. But it could not have happened without Mr. Lin's talents -- and his arts management team. Their involvement allows the choreographer to concentrate on his creative work. It wasn't always like that; in the early years, Mr. Lin was responsible for teaching and choreography, as well as staging, marketing and fundraising. This left him exhausted and unable to work creatively. 

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Mr. Lin realized Cloud Gate had to develop a management team. Nowadays, the company has divided its operation into three parts. Firstly, the performance of the routines. Secondly, the training and cultivation of artists, whether dancers or choreographers. And finally, the promotion of dance and taking part in wider cultural activities. The three divisions overlap, forming a coherent program of work that defines Cloud Gate as an organization. This is very much like portfolio management, dividing organizational objectives into different projects or programs.    

All of Cloud Gate's managers know they're there to allow Mr. Lin and the rest of the company to work creatively. They know their work helps fund performances for artists and also keeps Could Gate -- and them -- in work. This makes them both sponsors and key stakeholders. And since theater work is beset by a multitude of details, the managers have become skilled in tackling issues appropriately, discerning what is important for the business or for art. However, because ultimately they are part of a creative process, they know they have to be flexible in how they work with artists. 

An impressive archive of routines also contributes to the survival of the dance company. Cloud Gate has accumulated over 160 dance routines. Combinations of these can be used to stage a performance anywhere in the world. Routines based on well-known Chinese literature or folk tales, such as "The Dream of the Red Chamber" and "The Tale of the White Serpent," appeal to Chinese audiences. Those in a more abstract style, such as "Cursive," delight European audiences. The inclusion of different routines into a performance helps Cloud Gate develop new audiences or maintain the loyalty of existing ones worldwide.

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Mr. Lin also guides dancers' careers, cultivates young choreographers, and contributes to Taiwan's arts and culture. For example, Cloud Gate is the first dance company in Taiwan to provide its dancers with a salary and routine training. The company also regularly holds open classes and performances in all parts of Taiwan, using scholarships and awards to encourage young people to take up modern dance and choreography. 

Mr. Lin has spent most of his life searching for this: a sustainable way to run an international contemporary dance company. And project, program and portfolio management have helped get him there, delivering inspiring results. 

If you work in a creative industry, what's the role of your management team?

Get With the Program

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For the past two decades, television dramas in Taiwan have faced fierce competition from Korea, mainland China and Japan. But in 2011, a modern Taiwanese drama -- "In Time With You" -- managed to challenge these markets, with ratings that rocketed to 2.7 million viewers. The production team responsible for this success warrants a closer look.

In television, there is a type of producer known as a "show runner." This person is responsible for both the execution and creative aspects of the show for each individual episode and throughout the series. The role is similar to a project sponsor who not only needs to raise funds, but also has to clarify project scope, acquire the team and determine an acceptable risk tolerance. For "In Time With You," Jason Hsueh is such a show runner.
In 2011, Mr. Hsueh started to adapt a Korean TV drama, "The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince," for Taiwan. But he found the terms of the adaptation agreement too restrictive. Eventually, when pre-production costs reached $50,000, he decided to stop -- it would be pointless if he couldn't make creative changes so the drama would be relatable to Chinese-speaking target audiences. This timely decision also stopped further financial hemorrhage of a high-risk project. But more importantly, it forced Mr. Hsueh to reconsider previous drama ideas, including "In Time With You."

"In Time with You," a love story written by scriptwriter Hsu Yu Ting, had been considered for years but had not been brought to the screen. The story didn't follow the established formula for romance. However, Mr. Hsueh felt that this light love story, based on the lives of ordinary people, had potential. He boldly adopted a script many others wouldn't have attempted.

The foundation of a successful drama is first a good script, and then a good director. Consider the drama to be the project, with the director comparable to a project manager, the person responsible for the production of the show. He or she is the one who puts all the artistic elements together, who brings the story to life by interacting with actors and interpreting the script. Mr. Hsueh knew that if he wanted to decrease risk on "In Time With You," he needed to find the right director. That's why he handed the reins to Arthur Chu, a director famous for a subtle, refreshing touch. 
Mr. Chu shot every take beautifully, and was very loyal to the original script. He directed the drama with good quality control, and the production team never inflated the script. Plenty of product placement opportunities knocked, but Mr. Hsueh only considered products that were in tune with the original story. This steadfast commitment to the original story -- along with a sophisticated, approachable marketing effort -- resulted in soaring ratings. 

Through careful execution, a previously neglected idea for a TV drama series became a blockbuster success in Chinese-speaking countries in 2012. It started with a good script (program management plan), a project sponsor and program manager (show runner), project managers (producers and director) and project team (technicians, actors and marketing staff). Even if the success of "In Time with You" was a surprise, it was not an accident.

Have you seen program management adapted to other creative industries?
On June 12, 2013 the US House of Representatives Government Efficiency Caucus hosted the discussion "Doing More with Less: Reducing Waste and Improving Service Delivery." Hosted by House Representatives Todd Young (R-IN) and Jim Matheson (D-UT), the speakers addressed issues related to efficient program management in U.S. government agencies.

Mark A. Langley, President and CEO, Project Management Institute, presented findings from PMI's 2013 "Pulse of the Profession™" study on the high cost of low performance. The study revealed that government lags behind private sector industry in key success areas. Mr. Langley also noted that there are pockets of excellence in the Federal government using strong program management practices and seeing positive results. "It is essential to continue nurturing a program management culture government-wide," Mr. Langley said. 

Featured speakers also included Dr. Paul Light, Wagner's Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service, New York University and Mr. Richard Garrison, Vice Chancellor, US Department of Veterans Affairs, Acquisition Academy. 

Learn more at Government Executive and The Hill, both of which reported on the caucus proceedings.

Share your thoughts below along with your Twitter handle, and Voices on Project Management will publish the best response as a blog post.

When Passion Drives the Program

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Mayday is a Taiwanese rock band with a massive worldwide following. In fact, two concerts promoting their 2012 album, Noah's Ark, were held in the world's largest sports venue, Beijing's National Stadium. Those two performances alone drew 200,000 fans — an astonishing feat for any band, anywhere in the world. 

Believe Music manages Mayday — and staged the larger-than-life concerts in Beijing last year. For the music management company, performance — and particularly, passion for performance — is the key to industry success. In fact, the company's success comes from harnessing and managing passion for live music as a program.

The focus on passion as a business driver starts at the top. CEO Yung-Chi Chen believes in the power of live music, and that success comes if you just do what you're good at, and do it properly. Artists and bands that write and perform with passion will naturally attract a dedicated audience large enough to help sustain them in a career.

Believe Music's head manager, Yiu-Yang Chou, has the interesting title of "Creator of Satisfaction." This reflects the company's emphasis on live performance — as long as audiences demand performances, try to satisfy them. 

Mr. Chou manages over 100 concerts every year. His managerial level is that of a program manager, rather than a project manager. So when asked how he balances project constraints like scope, time and cost with quality, he says: "You can tell from the sofa bed in the meeting room that our management concepts on time and cost are very weak! But the most important requirement to work in this job [and industry] is enthusiasm. With enthusiasm, you dedicate yourself to creating something that'll make an impact. Time and money will be spent, but something great will be produced."

Across the board at Believe Music, passionate employees define cost control as "surviving" and risk management as "we've still got next time." And although that approach might seem like unsound business sense, the company's faith in passion for performance counts on a major stakeholder — the audience.

Believe Music considers audiences not just passive viewers, but also as appreciative co-producers of the live event. Their enjoyment is a key measurement of the performance's success. It is what Believe Music, and their artists, define as a successful result with each concert (i.e., project). Such word-of-mouth and long-term audience growth cannot be bought overnight, and that is why passion — and satisfaction — is so important in Believe Music's business.

Believe Music team members attribute enthusiasm over any business model for their success. When their specialized experience and passion is combined with a mature concert management system, the power of live performance becomes a money-making enterprise. 

How do you apply non-traditional business drivers — such as passion — in your programs and industry? Share your experiences below, and Voices on Project Management will publish the best response as a blog post. 

Learn more about the art of project management in the entertainment sector in "Let Us Entertain You," the cover story of the May 2013 issue of PM Network®.

The Making of "Life of Pi" and Program Management

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"This film has its own fate, and it chooses me." Director Ang Lee said this not out of arrogance, but out of recognition he had been given a unique opportunity to make "Life of Pi" with people who could help him produce a film from Yann Martel's "unfilmable" novel.

Based on interviews, the production involved the most difficult demands you can place on filmmakers: children, water and animals. Previous directors had failed to see the film through due to artistic or budgetary problems.

Like the best program managers out there, Mr. Lee succeeded by combining two approaches: one creative (by incorporating pre-visualizations), the other pragmatic (by inspiring others in controlling costs).

To tackle the visual special effects, the director and the producers settled on Rhythm & Hues Studios. In the year leading up to actual production, Mr. Lee worked on pre-visualizations -- a storyboarding technique that emulates scenes with music, sound and stunts -- of the most difficult parts of the film and shared them with the studio. This allowed both the director and the studio's artists to plan how to best create the shots.
These pre-visualizations were like a feasibility study in program management. It enabled Mr. Lee to focus the studio on the development of special effects. Via this process, the different types of visual effects professionals -- from physical props people to computer modelers -- could be properly integrated into the film's production plan and schedule. Being able to see who was working on what helped the director bring to life the characters and events in the novel -- and ensure that it was done in a style that remained faithful to the novel's spiritual themes.

The second challenge was the budget. Mr. Lee's original budget was US$70 million -- cheap, considering the production's challenges. Mr. Lee had persuaded the producers to make most of the film in Taiwan, which dramatically reduced costs. But it was still a big-budget film, and as actual costs looked as though they might climb over estimates, production halted. Mr. Lee met with studio executives and showed them finished shots. Although the execs were impressed, they were also honest: Film production could only resume if Mr. Lee kept down the budget. He agreed.
Rhythm & Hue Studios' cooperation helped cut the costs, and Mr. Lee was grateful. He also knew the California, U.S.-based studio was trying to expand internationally -- and that the Taiwanese government was trying to attract investment to the creative industries. So as film production ended, he suggested a mutually beneficial deal between the studio and the government.
The result was the building of a new Rhythm & Hue Studios facility in Taiwan and the creation of in-studio training and internships, a partnership between the studio and a Taiwanese telecom company to provide cloud computing services for local creative industries, and an investment company for film production.
In the end, all stakeholders -- Fox Studios, Rhythm & Hues Studios, the Taiwanese government and Mr. Lee -- recognized the mutual benefits of working together. Key to this was Mr. Lee showing the professionalism we should expect from a program manager, and recognizing and then creatively combining benefits.

Do you think creativity combined with pragmatism can drive project success?

Create Program Visibility

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Many organizations have a vision statement focused on long-term goals. In my experience, project professionals tend to dislike such vague objectives because they lack detail on how the goals should be achieved. This is program or project work: We want to turn a sponsor's idea or goal into actual plans.

But in reality, vision statements in a project or program can be very impactful, as they lend themselves to collaboration among stakeholders.

As an example, let's look at the Buddha Memorial Center in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
At the heart of this religious center is a relic of the Buddha that avoided destruction when it was snuck out of the country during the 1960s Cultural Revolution. Three decades later, Buddhist monks in India felt the relic should return to Taiwan. For Taiwanese citizens and politicians, as well as Buddhists worldwide, there was a wish to do full justice to the relic and its religion.

Buddist.jpgPlanning for the Buddha Memorial Center began in 1998 when the relic arrived in Taiwan. Construction launched in 2003 and was completed in 2011. During that time, the design for the center changed more than 114 times, growing from 20 to more than 100 hectares (247 acres). Even when construction finished in 2011, the world's largest copper Buddha statue, at 108 meters (354 feet) high, was added to the center in the spring of 2012.

Buddhist2.jpgAlthough it's in every project professional's nature to keep as close to plans as possible, and keep change to a minimum, change management was a key factor to success with the Buddhist Memorial Center project.

The project managers had to be flexible and communicate. Traditional tools and techniques such as 'rolling-wave' and 'fast-track' planning allowed constant change to be embraced.

Program visibility was also important. 'Program visibility' refers to making sure everyone involved is aware of objectives and strategy risks, and that everyone feels involved in the management and its outcome. (Program Management Standard, p14. Doman IV: Stakeholder Management.) In this case, regular meetings were held for all the major stakeholders. The meetings were often open to the public and media, which helped generate even more support.

Meetings are as much about reaching consensus as sharing information. Program visibility also ensures that all stakeholders, from sponsors to workers, share a sense of purpose and commitment.

The lesson learned from building the Buddhist Memorial Center shows how important it is to share your vision for a project or program. Doing so can allow you to create a lasting impact.

How have you made your project or program more visible?

Editor's Note: Photographs taken by Liang Ching Chih.

A Different Mindset: From Project To Program Manager

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As a project manager, leading a project to success provides a feeling of accomplishment. Having been successful at several projects, project managers could see becoming a program manager a likely career move.

But when PMO managers were asked about the most critical factors for success, developing the skill sets of project and program managers were an area of concern, according to PMI's 2012 Pulse of the Profession. As a result, many organizations will renew their focus on talent development, formalizing processes to develop competency.  

In my opinion, developing a program management mindset is a key first step to successfully transitioning to a program management role. For example, moving from the linear world of a single project to the molecular world of programs can be daunting. Plus, you'll face the new experience of leading other project managers.

Here are some practices I have found valuable to adopting a program management mindset:

1. Think big picture  
A common misperception about programs is when they are viewed as one big project. Keep in mind that a program is an interconnected set of projects that also has links to business stakeholders and other projects. Adopt a 'big picture' attitude to the overall program and avoid fixating on a single project's details.

2. Create a project manager trust model  
As a project manager, you develop trust with individual contributors performing delivery activities. As a program manager, you have to develop trust with project managers. Create a common interaction framework with every project manager for progress reporting, resource management, etc.

3. Encourage project managers to say "so what?"
As a program manager, you will deal with additional reports, metrics and other information that you didn't experience as a project manager. Encourage your project managers to start dialogs with "so what" outcomes. This will get right to the direct impact on the program. Have them support these outcomes with relevant information from their reports, dashboards and metrics.    

4. Establish credibility with business leaders   
With programs, customers are typically in business functions. Immerse yourself and your project managers in their business. Training, site visits and status meetings held at business locations are good ways to immerse your team in the customer's business.

5. Develop long-distance forecasting skills
Forecasting several weeks in the future is satisfactory with a project. However, a program with projects moving at different speeds and directions requires a longer forecast horizon. Set your forecast precision in terms of months, not weeks. In addition, look for multi-project forecasting considerations such as holiday blackout periods and external project dependencies.   

What have you found effective to make the mental leap from project manager to program manager?

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See more on the Pulse of the Profession.

An Organization's Intangible Process Assets

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On the shores of the Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan stands The Wen-Wan Resort, a luxury hotel. It looks like like an ocean liner and is built extensively of glass.

WenWen.jpgThe resort is licensed as a 'build-operate-transfer' (BOT) project. That means that after a lease of 30 years, the site reverts back to state ownership, regardless if the operators break even or make a profit.

The construction of the Wen-Wan Resort took four years to complete, and was finalized in September 2003. Total construction cost of the 92-room resort amounted to US$67 million. Rooms cost between US$1,000 and US$10,000 per night. Internal ROI will likely be met after about 18 to 20 years, which means that in 2023, the resort's operators could start to make a profit.

Program and project managers tend to focus on these quantifiable and measurable objectives. But it can be hard for them to grasp intangible or abstract ideas.

Yet it is the intangible that usually informs the core values of any successful company. The intangible part is what we tend to ignore: the organizational cultures and styles.

In A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) -- Fourth Edition, an organization's shared vision, values, norms, beliefs and expectation is called "organizational cultures and styles." The PMBOK® Guide also says an organization's direction or objectives are usually defined by its enterprise environmental factors.

Take The Wen-Wan Resort, for example. The resort's sponsor and president, Wen-Wan Tang, has a unique background that led him to found and operate the resort in a way that gives pleasure to guests and gives back to society.

Mr. Tang owns more than 20 organizations. He used the profits from these businesses to fund the construction and development of The Wen-Wan Resort. He believes that if you're successful, you should help improve the society that allows you to enjoy to such success.

Mr. Tang sees the resort as a way to help develop the local economy. It not only creates jobs in constructing the resort but also in staffing the resort. Plus, the resort's visitors support local companies and businesses.

In this way, Mr. Tang has shown "organizational cultures and styles" by helping to develop the local economy.

What are your organizational cultures and styles?

Editor's note: Photo courtesy of The Wen-Wen Resort.

Achieving Success through Program Management

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A report detailing the impact of the 2010 Taipei International Flora Exposition estimates that Taiwan brought in more than US$1 billion during the six-month event. These benefits were created by synergy, which was cultivated through centralized program management.

What do I mean by synergy? Cross-related projects benefit from efficiency and control when activities are combined rather than performed separately. The exposition is a good example of the kind of synergy that program management should bring -- an example worth considering if you want to manage projects effectively within a program.

The event had an organizing committee, which was set up like a program management office (PMO). Endorsement from the International Association of Horticultural Producers (IAHP) gave the organizing committee the freedom and authority to be effective. IAHP provided the committee with clear objectives, which allowed committee leaders to establish concrete goals for meeting stakeholder expectations.

The exposition involved 377 projects and more than 23,000 participants. With so many stakeholders involved -- all of whom were eager to stage events, exhibitions, shows and displays -- the event's success required all of their coordination and cooperation.

All of these stakeholders' concerns needed to be understood and met. This was only possible through the organizing committee, which worked closely with local tourism and cultural bureaus, as well as the government. The committee had to negotiate, mediate and monitor the projects, and assist the stakeholders to achieve their own benefits, so as to maximize the synergy effect.

But it is not just strong, centralized management that ensures a program's success. The program manger must also correctly identify clear objectives around which individual projects are organized.

As exemplified with IAHP and the committee, objectives of a program can only be defined from top to bottom, which requires a higher level of governance. Once the objectives of a program are set up, every project under the program shall be carried out in accordance with the objectives to ensure alignment between the execution and objectives.  

What do you think? Does centralized management ensure a program's success?

Program Managers as Top Chefs

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Given the lack of understanding about the work of program managers, I thought it would be helpful to explain their role by using a restaurant as a metaphor.

Think of the kitchen as the project management office (PMO), menus as the programs and each dish as a project.  

The chef is the program manager. The restaurant owner and manager rely on the chef to create the menu, which has to reflect the restaurant's cuisine, but with a range of affordable (yet profitable) dishes. The chef must then supervise and motivate others to cook the dishes.

Cooks are like project managers. They're responsible for executing the dishes designed by the chef and ordered by the customers. Other kitchen staff members are like the project team, helping create each dish successfully.
Restaurant managers are like general managers in a project setting. They coordinate the different arms of the restaurant, supervise the staff, order supplies, take care of the accounts, pay wages and handle customer complaints. However, they rely on the chef to ensure the restaurant is successful.

The restaurant owner, manager and chef meet regularly to discuss business. These discussions are the restaurant equivalent of strategic planning. The chef learns what's required of the menu (or program) and how much money is available to spend on preparing dishes (or projects).

In a lot of companies, the owner, manager and chef are all the same person. Yet many people can't successfully perform all three roles.
The restaurant owner and manager may want to be involved in the cooking, but it's far more effective if they have the support of a properly trained chef.

The same is true in the business world. We need to spend time educating CEOs and general managers about the benefits of working alongside a properly trained program manager.

Then we won't just have great restaurants, but great companies.

What do you think? How does having a defined role of a program manager help organizations?
It's usually up to the sales representatives and executives to pique the interest of potential investors or partners in a project. But program managers are in a prime position to offer unique insights into project proposals:

  • They deal with all the different stakeholders
  • They guide and advise their project managers.
  • They talk with senior management.
Still, many program managers only concern themselves with their immediate work. They don't think about the bigger picture. There's no discussion on what this project may lead to or what future business benefits it will bring to the organization.

But program managers should also be justifying and arguing the long-term benefits of their new projects -- not relying on others to do that for them. 

Program managers have a duty to do more than ensure projects under their supervision are completed on time and on budget. Program managers have a lot more authority and opportunity -- and therefore responsibility -- to further the strategic objectives of their organization than a project manager. 

Program managers need to realize they're a catalyst -- someone who should be open to new opportunities, ready to explore new business ideas and enable their organization to move forward. From this viewpoint, program managers resemble salespeople. They have a duty to sell a vision for the future to their senior management and all their stakeholders.

What do you think? Should program managers act as salespeople, too?

Read more posts from Roger.

Find out more about the Program Management Professional (PgMP)®credential.

Social Responsibility in Program Management

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Program managers are looking to the future and how best to serve business -- and society -- in a more responsible way.

Global trends in corporate responsibility now include sustainable energy, combining improvements in efficient use of energy and renewable energy sources.

Enterprises that join this trend will likely prosper. Program managers are responsible for aligning an enterprise's business with its long-term strategy, and for sensing emerging trends that need to be embraced.

"Green" technologies, for example, are one such trend program managers should recognize and plan projects and programs around.

Organizations like Nike, Taiwan Telecom, Delta and Corning have recently built "green" factories, for example, using such technologies. If program managers don't follow worldwide trends like this, it will affect the organization's long-term ability to compete and prosper.

In this way, program managers echo the role of the program management office (PMO).

The PMO and the program manager are the main force for business strategy alignment. They adjust the resource allocation and business priorities within projects and programs by launching projects they believe fit the organization's business strategy, and stopping those that don't.

The best that we have to offer in our profession is to be forward-looking and socially responsible. What are you doing to be socially responsible?

Can Project Management Maturity Fuel Great Ideas?

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My last post discussed how project portfolio management helps organizations achieve their objectives. Now I want to discuss how such success is possible.

Achieving project management objectives relies on the maturity of project management understanding within an organization. It's not about the skills of the individual project manager. Rather it's about the organization's understanding of what is possible with project management.

Apple is one organization making effective use of such maturity. The company has a reputation for delivering quality products by combining superior design with technology -- not focusing solely on innovation.

With the iPhone and other iOS products, Apple gained a larger share of the market -- not by sacrificing its distinction as an organization, but by transforming it.

Apple's product designers balance technology with humanity. While designers are both rewarded and pushed into continually brainstorming, researching and testing new ideas, the focus is on usability and simplicity.

Apple's project teams worked out a way to "make the magic happen" through project management maturity.

Organizational project management coupled with Apple's creative environment paved the way for achieving project successes and organizational objectives.
The project to develop the iPhone grew from the iPod; the App Store grew out of the opportunities the iPhone provided. Their maturity was not only due to Apple's management skills, but grew from developing its own project management methods.

Apple's strategy, fueled by its maturity, allowed these and other projects in the company's portfolio, to be managed with a greater chance of success than its competitors.

As with all well-run organizations, project management maturity facilitates the implementation of ideas.

What do you think? Does project management maturity spark great creativity?

Editor's note: See more on project management maturity.
The new year has arrived, and some senior managers may face the pressure of troubled projects. Which projects must be scaled down? Which should get more support? Which should be canceled because market conditions have changed? Portfolio management demands these kinds of tough decisions.

In the 2006 version of the James Bond film, "Casino Royale," for example, the character named M is responsible for managing military intelligence projects and programs. She has to make the best use of the resources under her governance, whether they are programs or projects. When one of her projects is out of control, she corrects the deviation by removing resources and support -- in this case, from Mr. Bond's personal revenge-oriented task -- because it may not align with the organizational objective.

In the meantime, she also has to define what each operation or action should achieve and in what way. Should it be an interception done secretly by the SWAT (special weapons and tactics) teams or a detainment in a sumptuous gambling casino? It all depends on what effects an action aims to achieve and at what costs.

The basis of portfolio management lies in its top-down logic. Depending on what objective you want to reach, you combine the resources and organize the projects and programs to move toward that direction.

When it comes to personal investments, people often combine different products and methods to gain the maximum benefit based on the risks and available financial resources.

Similarly, project portfolio managers consider the resources that should be allocated to projects and programs based on what risks and benefits they can generate for an organization.

Programs and projects sharing similar risks or benefits may be put together for better management. The grouping facilitates decisions on further investments and resource allocation, as well as adjustments amid changing market conditions and organizational strategic plans.

By following effective project portfolio management processes, you can put together a business operation that makes your investment objectives more achievable. Just like M -- but leave the SWAT team at home.

When Is Program Management the Right Choice?

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Project managers often ask me: When is a program needed? Under what circumstances is program management appropriate? What's the difference between running multiple projects at the same time and running a program? 
In terms of delivering a benefit or generating a synergistic outcome, program management can help. This is especially true when you're managing interdependent projects.
Say you're running four projects at the same time: a hardware development project, a 3-D character animation project, an exterior design project and a controller project for a game console.

You can indeed manage these four projects separately with shared resources and technologies. But if two of the projects come from the same client, you should have a program.

Or if your company plans to own the game console -- which requires you to produce a product by integrating the deliverables of each individual project -- you need a program.
Take Nintendo's Wii. Development of the console definitely calls for the centralized, coordinated management of a program, or at least, a program-like logic to run it.

Making the Wii requires coordinating the component supply, system coding, and exterior and hardware design, including the controller. There is also storyboard planning for plots and characters for Nintendo-owned licenses to help launch the console, layouts for different language versions, etc.

Of course, the design and production of each specialized component will have to be done through individual projects. Yet they end up being part of a wider program because they are interdependent with all the other components for the final console.

A program is also necessary because to deliver the final console on schedule, a greater degree of governance has to be used. It must ensure that the projects run as planned so individual delays do not hamper the overall output of the program: a finished, completed Wii console.   
What do you think? How do you know when program management is your best option?

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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