For example, Taiwanese fashion designer Sun Hua Chen wanted to get young people interested in the fashion industry. He saw an exhibition by fashion photographer Su Yi Liang, which spurred the idea that a fashion photography exhibition would be a good way to interest upcoming generations in fashion.
"The Big Shot Charity Photography Exhibition" first held in 2011, will hopefully become an annual event held at the Fubon Cultural & Educational Foundation in Taiwan. The foundation is known for its work in supporting young people.
The end result that first year was 111 designers, photographers and non-profit workers who collaborated to make the exhibition a success. The event raised US$308,200 to support young adults' work in art and design.
But reaching that level of success wasn't easy. For starters, Mr. Chen found it challenging to get the foundation to understand his vision, mainly because of the vast difference between the fashion industry and charity work.
To secure buy-in, he presented a benefits realization plan in a way that the foundation would understand. They translated the potential effect of the fashion event into how much money could be raised, which would in turn benefit the foundation's stakeholders.
The stakeholders also had different concerns based on their interests. On one hand, there were artists and designers seeking perfection and impact. On the other, there were volunteers and professionals seeking efficiency and effectiveness through non-profit.
However, both groups understood that they needed each other's strengths to make the event a success. In this case, that meant utilizing one group's creativity and the other's business sense. It was the eventual synergy of both groups that resulted in the event becoming an annual success.
How have you managed a large, complicated program successfully? Do you have any tips for managing multiple stakeholders?
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.
Planning 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.
Although 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.
The 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.
Although the film industry is a particularly challenging and unpredictable way to attain success, the process of making the film provides a lesson project professionals in any industry can learn from.
Creating this film was like any project -- it faced unique challenges. To start, the Taiwanese box office is small, and the director, Wei Te-Sheng, needed financing for the film. But how could he find sponsors when he was a "no-name" director with a low budget?
The answer was obvious: Make a simple, yet successful film to create a good reputation and attract investment.
To fulfil this goal, Mr. Te-Sheng directed "Cape No. 7" in 2008. It generated box office returns of more than NT$500 million (US$16,900,249) and won multiple awards. He was now in a position to begin producing his historical epic film. Financing opportunities came easily, and the end product was an film worthy of a submission for nomination to the Academy Awards.
Mr. Te-Sheng's progress should be recognizable to any business strategist as adhering to the principles of program management. The goal of Mr. Te-Sheng's program was to make "Seediq Bale," but he had to complete smaller projects to achieve it:
- Come up with a plan or project that generates a desired benefit.
- Ensure the benefit can be realized with little compromise.
- Balance benefit-received and cost-paid, or the outcome may be compromised.
- Consistently aim for your goal.
This example reveals a lesson in terms of organizational strategy: Always remember to ensure the benefits of programs and projects align with the company's ultimate objective. Don't be distracted.
Have you ever completed smaller projects to prove to sponsors you could make a bigger project work?
Portfolio management can help senior managers check how their products or services are performing -- and maximize benefits and opportunities to plan for next year.
PMI's Standard for Portfolio Management -- Second Edition defines a portfolio as "a collection of projects or programs and other work that are grouped together to facilitate effective management of that work to meet strategic business objectives."
And "portfolio management is the coordinated management of portfolio components to achieve specific organizational objectives." When we use a portfolio approach, senior managers coordinate how projects and programs are managed and gain deeper understanding of what they mean to the organization.
Where I have worked, a portfolio is organized as a collection of business operations that share the same purpose. Portfolio management serves as our business map, where different business packages are laid out according to risk, profit and time.
In companies, portfolio managers address products or services according to risk and profit factors. Products or services are divided into four types:
· High-risk high-profit
· Low-risk high-profit
· High-risk low-profit
· Low-risk low-profit
Taking their payback period into consideration, benefits can be maximized by reasonably allocating resources and financial investment for each of the four types of products/business.
For example, products that are "high-risk high-profit" require time to generate high revenue.
As for businesses or products that are already generating long-term and stable profits -- those in the "low-risk low-profit" category or basic business -- careful resource allocation should lead to eventual increased revenue.
"High-risk low-profit" products should also be given appropriate resources, as long as they bring in certain benefits, such as expanding or maintaining market share, and keeping up with potential competitors.
Take computer manufacturer Acer, for example. In the past, Acer has made large profits on PC products of the "low-risk high-profit" variety. By 2008, Acer was about to surpass its main (and only) competitor, Hewlett Packard, as the world's biggest PC manufacturer. But an unexpected competitor arose: Apple.
Acer's long-term reliance on this "low-risk high-profit" strategy meant that innovative "high-risk high-profit" or "high-risk low-profit" technology products, such as those that Apple makes, were ignored. Apple topped Acer because Acer failed to plan a complete business map. It didn't manage the risks arising from a "low-risk high-profit" strategy. Acer was only focused on pursuing market share by making and selling cheap PC products.
Even when your current business is generating high revenues, you should never ignore business plans and products that are still under development. You should always allocate reasonable resources to these business elements, and never solely depend on your successful products or services.
When planning your company's products or services for the upcoming year, be sure to check if your strategic plan is well balanced. Make sure no element of your business is over-exploited and no element is ignored -- no matter how little profit it currently generates.
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?
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?
- They deal with all the different stakeholders
- They guide and advise their project managers.
- They talk with senior management.
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.
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?
Some organizations think cost-down should be included as a part of portfolio management, while others regard it as just another part of project management. The answer depends on whether cost-down is executed to help realize the organization's objectives.
For example, let's take a look at Foxconn Technology Group, a manufacturing giant in Taiwan that manufactures several Apple products.
During the bidding process to manufacture the iPad, for example, Foxconn provides a quote to Apple that Foxconn's competitors are unable to match or undercut. Foxconn evaluates different efficiency plans in an effort to cut the price of iPad production as much as possible.
The design and specifications of the iPad are fixed. Choice of materials and manufacturing methods, however, can be managed in the way that Foxconn feels is most efficient. Foxconn can research less costly materials, more efficient production methods, and new vendors for less expensive services or components. Foxconn will also look to vertically acquire its competitors or vendors.
All of these factors allow Foxconn to calculate from quotes how it must manage production so that manufacturing matches the quote. This is Foxconn's organizational strategy: offering the lowest price to its buyer and attaining the most competitive cost.
This example shows how a cost-down activity meets the organization's business strategy of offering the lowest price. In this situation, the cost-down activity is absolutely part of portfolio management.
Projects, programs and portfolios are all about executive power. The appropriate use of a project, program or portfolio depends on its function. When a project, operation or task can be performed to further the organization's business strategy, it should definitely be regarded as a part of portfolio management, and not a part of project management.
Does your organization treat cost-down activity as a portfolio management activity?
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.
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.
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?
Being the former president of the Institute of Taiwan Project Management, I feel very grateful. Unlike other personal awards, this award honors an organization, which gives recognition to the efforts made by ITPM, a collective labor made by 300 volunteering project managers.
Community work enables people to live better lives. For project managers who enthusiastically dedicate themselves to their communities, project management tools and techniques can help them be more efficient and productive.
Po-Jen Huang, PMP, project manager and architect at Far Eastern Technical Consultants Co. Ltd., for example, volunteered to help re-build five village schools that were destroyed around Taoyuan in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. Every aspect of the reconstruction work -- collecting and analyzing requirements, time and budget control, risk management and quality assurance -- was completed under stringent project management methodologies. The team reached its goals within budget, without significant delays while delivering quality outcomes.
Here are some ways project managers can use their skills to help their communities:
Effective communication: Using their team-building and conflict-resolution skills, project managers can help communities bring their ideas together. Project managers can also help their communities identify problems, set priorities, develop confidence and solve problems together.
Process management: Tapping into their shared language and knowledge of project management skills and practices, project managers can effectively establish guidelines and procedures. Project managers are very aware of the different categories of risks, risk triggers, and the procedures for quality assurance and quality control. The response to a community effort can be more efficiently guided, and the transition to different phases of community work or reconstruction can be managed smoothly.
Solid execution: Project management skills and practices ensure community work or construction is carried out quickly and efficiently. Minimal delays rest with what all Professional project managers are good at resource allocation, time and budget management. If they stick to that, the project should have minimal delays.
Like the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the expo is a collection of projects whose collective purpose benefited the nation and fulfilled the government's strategic objectives.
The expo and the Olympics were part of a national portfolio aimed at achieving countrywide political objectives for boosting the economy. Both were planned and executed with the intent to cultivate high-tech skills and knowledge aimed at ensuring growth and competitiveness in the future.
For example, the Chinese government required every contractor carrying out individual projects to employ Chinese workers, including certified project managers. This has ensured that enough skilled workers necessary for national development have been trained.
By the end of 2009, the number of PMI certified project managers in China was 29,414 -- the second-largest number in the world.
The physical legacy these programs left is also notable.
Unlike games or exhibitions hosted by developed countries, both the expo and the Olympics were accompanied by massive infrastructure developments -- and not just the renovation or improvement of existing facilities. The Shanghai Expo re-developed areas in decline, and brought infrastructure and facilities to previously undeveloped areas.
Apart from the huge venues, China built airports, restaurants, hotels and 11 high-speed railways. Development plans also incorporated expanding and improving the service industry of Shanghai.
These projects, combined with the outcome of other national programs and projects, help advance the government's goal of growing and developing the national economy.
"Projects produce deliverables; programs output benefits so as to sustain, advance or achieve organizational objectives; while portfolios ensure the alignment of the diverse objectives and independence of programs and projects to organizational strategic objectives," according to page six of The Standard for Portfolio Management.
And that's exactly what the Shanghai Expo 2010 did.
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.
It may not seem like it, but you can learn a lot about the synergy available through effective program management from The Lord of the Rings.
In the novels and films, the characters of Gandalf, Theoden and Aragorn inspire and command others to be courageous and achieve great feats. Even before a battle starts, these mythical leaders inspire confidence in their men, carefully positioning them in accordance with their skills. Each man has tasks for each stage of the upcoming battle. But they are only effective when coordinated with an understanding of their individual strengths and weaknesses, and knowledge of how they can be used to support and protect each other.
Under a wise leader -- acting as a program manager -- the power of these warriors can be multiplied when coordinated properly. This synergy ensures that every battle they engage in, and every war they fight, victory is at hand. Yet if badly coordinated, the strength and courage of these bands of cavalry, archers, spearmen or swordsmen -- the leader's resources -- is wasted, despite whatever heroic skills they possess individually.
Program management is mainly concerned with managing stakeholders, which in the case of an entire program is a larger, more diverse and more complicated group of than is involved in an individual project. Their interests are different, sometimes contradictory, and their individual impacts -- whether big or small, for good or bad -- may be very significant to the success or failure of the entire program.
The daunting scale of such programs are often not fantasy -- but may appear to demand wizards and heroes to manage them, let alone manage them so that a proper synergy takes place from the different projects involved.
What kind of projects can be managed through a program?
Projects with a common outcome, that can create collective capability and share the same resources
Projects that have the same tasks, that serve the same customer
Projects where their risks can be reduced when managed together
In April, the Institute of Taiwanese Project Management gave out its first 10 Outstanding Chinese Project Managers awards. The winners and candidates were examples of what defines a good project manager.
In general, most of the project managers who caught the selection board's attention managed efforts that were:
• Completed within budget and on time, sticking to their scope and quality
• In line with the client company's business objectives or ambitions
• A benefit to the economy, society or local community
Good project managers also have commitment and determination -- a common characteristic of the 10 award winners. Their background, education and work history all showed they were individuals who, when they committed to doing something, would do all that was possible to get the work completed, even when others wanted to give up.
I also realized during the award-selection process that good project managers are a driving force in our society. Their constant, ongoing completion of projects keeps our economy active and competitive.
Whether these are large telecom projects (such as the installation of China's countrywide broadband network) or smaller ecology projects (such as reducing the carbon emissions of homes or businesses), the project managers leading these efforts are all doing important work that improves our society and our economy.
It is only through their planning, execution and management skills, as well as their commitment and determination, that any project can be completed efficiently and effectively.
If you know excellent project managers who deserve to be recognized, consider nominating them in next year's PMI Professional Awards.
To all you project managers silently toiling away -- possibly thinking "these awards have nothing to do with me!" -- I would like to praise your work: You are the real driving force in society. Never underestimate how important your contribution is!