Translating Single Project Management
Knowledge to Project Programs
Mihály Görög, Corvinus University of Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Over the past decade, the efficient implementation of project programs became of great importance. Many authors are concerned with improving the professionalism of implementing
project programs, and most of them identify
context-related factors that are considered the
bases of successful implementation. However,
little has been written on how to use the project
management toolkit in project programs. In
mid-2007, a research program was initiated to
highlight the role of the single project management toolkit in implementing programs. During the research, both case-based and interviewbased research methods were used. The primary question addressed in this article is how to translate single project management knowledge to program management. KEYWORDS: program management; scoperelated interdependence; resource-related interdependence; translating single project management knowledge to program management
Project Management Journal, Vol. 42, No. 2, 17–31
© 2011 by the Project Management Institute
Published online in Wiley Online Library
(wileyonlinelibrary.com). DOI: 10.1002/pmj.20222
owadays big organizations—both profit-oriented companies and public service organizations—are more and more concerned with project programs in order to realize their strategic objectives in an efficient manner. The fundamental reason behind this phenomenon is the innovative effort to renew the product portfolio and to reduce the time to market (Aubry, Hobbs, & Thuillier, 2007). These circumstances have led to a growing number of projects on the one hand, while on the other hand, such groups of projects—that is, project programs—have emerged that consist of projects that are strongly interrelated during their implementation process. Managing the implementation of a project program clearly goes beyond managing the implementation of single projects (Maylor, Brady, Cooke-Davies, & Hodgson, 2006). Nevertheless, the successful implementation of a project program presumes the successful implementation of those projects that belong to the program. However, studying the efficiency and the associated success rate of implementing project programs has thus far been a rare topic in the literature (Martinsuo & Lehtonen, 2007a). Martinsuo and Lehtonen (2007a) analyzed this phenomenon in a very general way; therefore, the primary outcome of their research does not go further than highlighting the need for efficient management of those projects that belong to a program. These authors introduced the outcomes of earlier research (e.g., Artto & Dietrich, 2004; Dietrich & Lehtonen, 2005; Elonen & Artto, 2003; Payne & Turner, 1999). The latter authors also emphasized that factors such as clear project goals, systematic decision making, top management support, and the like, which contribute to achieving success on single projects, could undoubtedly contribute to achieving success on project programs too. Indeed, these are decisive success factors for program implementation as well. However, the associated solutions (for example, how to define clear goals in a program context) are not explored by these authors. At the same time, the reviewed literature does not report on any empirical research (unlike in the case of single projects) that reveals the success or failure rate of implementing project programs.
Most of the literature reviewed during our research takes a general approach; therefore, the authors emphasized the importance of a program office, which is considered the primary success factor in the course of implementing project programs. As we can see later, the need for a program office is indisputable, although the program office alone is not sufficient for program management. Currently there is no agreement on how to translate single project management knowledge to...
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