One of the modern giants of programme management, Roy Hill, current CEO of HS2, gave the keynote on Thursday 2 February in which he offered a passionate, very personal view of what is critical to successful programme delivery. Drawing on his observations and personal experiences over 40 years in UK, USA and the Middle East (culminating in his leading roles on the London Olympic Park, HS2 and Highways England transformation), his key message was "it is the soft skills that differentiate the really good programme leaders."
His five key points which differentiate the realities of programme management from project management are:
A. Stakeholders are everything – managing their perceptions and expectations is the secret to success.
B. Business Case and Benefits Management lies at the heart of what the programme is there to do – understand it, its intent, people’s expectations – and manage them.
C. The scope of every programme changes – don’t resist it; embrace it and make it work for you.
D. It is the detail that trips programme up. It is not the programme manager’s job to check the details but it is his job to make sure someone is accountable for all aspects so that the detail does not get missed.
E. Finally: push the boundaries. The programme manager who does not test the boundaries and get knocked back from time to time is not showing sufficient innovation.
Working on Napoleon’s principle that the Moral is to the Physical as 3 is to 1, Roy’s keynote was backed up by Dr Ed Wallington, ProgM SIG Chair, whose presentation (attached) got to the core of tangible aspects of programme management including the differentiation from project management. In this he highlighted the scale of the challenge for UK epitomised by the National Infrastructure Plan that identifies 728 major programmes/projects with over £500billion with more than half to be spent in the next five years. This is a ‘time of opportunity’ for anyone entering the world of programme management. This ‘opportunity’ will be developed further in the next phases of the ProgM suite of CPD covering a Webinar scheduled for 23 Feb and APM’s ProgM Annual Conference on 2 March.
Deputy Chair Association for Project Management and Programme Management SIG committee member
The slides from the evening have kindly been made available for viewing below and in our APM slideshare archive.