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Introduce Program Management to Your Organization

Use programs to align projects to your strategic goals.

  • Organizations are faced with managing multiple simultaneous projects.
  • Project Managers are struggling to deliver on highly integrated projects and stakeholders are confused about the status of these projects.

Our Advice

Critical Insight

  • Organizations underestimate the value that a unifying process/framework will have across numerous related projects
  • Business needs and goals are always changing and organizations need to be able to adapt.
  • You may not realize that there are overlaps or gaps between your projects. You can use program management to fill these gaps and start to maximize the benefits of your projects and improve delivery.
  • Projects are investments to further goals and programs, and program managers can mitigate risks to protect those investments
  • Although programs can really optimize a portfolio, it is important to remember that they require additional overhead and starting too many at one time could impede desired results. It is best to build programs one at a time, and only if it makes sense to do so.

Impact and Result

  • Optimize your portfolio with programs. If you have a collection of heavily dependent and integrated projects that all relate to a single and unified objective you can group them as a program.
  • Get control of interdependent projects with programs. If leadership is concerned about the overhead of programs, that’s okay. Just group and run your projects together in programs to improve delivery.Once they see the value of coordinating related projects, they are more likely to buy into the concept and you can focus more the programs strategic goal alignment.

Introduce Program Management to Your Organization Research & Tools

Start here – read the Executive Brief

Read our concise Executive Brief to find out why you should consider program management to improve delivery and maximize benefits from related projects, review Info-Tech’s methodology, and understand the two ways we can support you in completing this project.

1. Assess current projects and determine your next program

Look at how you currently deliver projects and realize benefits. With a list of projects and initiatives created you will be ready to create your next program.

2. Initiate program

Initiate the program you established. Make sure you have the right people so that your program starts off on the right foot.

Introduce Program Management to Your Organization

Use programs to align projects to your strategic goals.


Without program management your benefits are at risk.

"We’re always trying to understand how to optimize spending on projects, programs, products, and portfolios. The easiest answer might be, “Don’t spend anything on program or portfolio.” After all, both are cost drivers without direct benefits. But if you have too many projects, you likely need better portfolio management. And if you have poor inter-project coordination and consistently unattained benefits, you likely need program management. Projects are investments to further the goals of your organization. If the benefits delivered by your projects are always at risk, you won’t reach your goals. While program management may seem like an unnecessary extra layer, like many things in life, you will find that you need to invest enough to be sure you’re getting the desired outcomes."

Ugbad Farah, PMP,

Research Analyst, PPM Practice

Info-Tech Research Group

Our understanding of the problem

This Research Is Designed For:

  • CIOs who want to improve organizational performance.
  • Portfolio managers and PMO directors who want to develop a program methodology option to optimize their portfolio strategy or who are facing complex delivery scenarios that require increasing amounts of governance and escalation response.
  • Program managers who are looking to strengthen existing and future programs.

This Research Will Help You:

  • Align stakeholders, projects, and programs within your portfolio.
  • Find out if the delivery of related projects could be optimized to align to higher organizational goals, and analyze your current processes and determine whether your projects align with strategic or operational goals.
  • Ensure that that anticipated strategic benefits are not lost through changes within individual project delivery.

This Research Will Also Assist:

  • Organizations group projects into programs to increase stakeholder engagement.
  • Project sponsors and stakeholders who seek clarity into the status of several interrelated projects.
  • Functional managers and project managers that are in charge of multiple projects and need a way to detect interdependencies and improve project delivery.

This Research Will Help Them:

  • With reporting: A unified reporting and escalation approach benefits executives and stakeholders more than reading numerous individual project status reports that lack analysis and trends across all the projects.
  • Group projects into programs to maintain overall coordination, improve delivery, and enhance benefits.

Executive summary


  • Organizations are faced with managing multiple, simultaneous projects and there is a disconnect between what is happening at the project level and what is going on at a larger organizational level.
  • Project managers are struggling to deliver on highly integrated projects and stakeholders are confused about the status of these projects.


  • Organizations tend to under invest in people and processes.
  • They underestimate the value that a unifying process/framework will have across numerous related projects.
  • They may not realize that there are overlaps or gaps between projects.
  • Business cases are usually missing and benefits are not adequately defined within each project.


  • Optimize your portfolio with programs. If you have a collection of heavily dependent and integrated projects that all relate to a single and unified objective you can group them as a program.
    • Creating a program will help you provide additional governance and make it easier for executives and stakeholders to understand the collective status across all projects.
  • Get control of interdependent projects with programs. Sometimes IT leadership doesn’t want the overhead of programs, that's okay, just group your projects together without calling them “programs.” Once they see the benefits they are more likely to buy into the concept.
    • Just having a bunch of projects doesn’t mean you need a program, but if the benefits of the individual projects combined create a larger organizational benefit or all work together towards one benefit then they may be suited for one.

Info-Tech Insight

  1. Build programs one at a time and only if they make sense. Assess your current projects and see if you can incorporate programs to be more successful.
  2. It doesn’t matter whether strategy comes before projects or projects before strategy as long as the intended benefits are realized.
  3. Use programs to gain efficiency and help you focus on benefits. If project goals are not prioritized, a program may not be necessary.

Most organizations divide strategy work and execution work

Because of the division, misalignment occurs and IT projects continue to miss the mark.

The image contains a bar graph on Info-Tech's CEO/CIO Alignment Diagnostic. The average gap for CXO is 3.3 and the average gap for CIO is 3.5.

Info-Tech’s CIO Business Vision Survey has identified the gaps in communication between strategy and execution personnel.

IT projects should deliver organizational change, but they rarely deliver their expected value to the sponsoring organization

Research on project failure has been going on for decades, and the biggest failure is that IT projects are not delivering on their intended goals regardless of schedule and cost overruns.

Only 21% of organizations deliver projects that are likely to achieve stakeholder satisfaction (KPMG, 2017).

Only 33% of organizations are likely to meet original goals or business objectives (KPMG, 2017).

Only 34% of projects are consistently delivering on their benefits (KPMG, 2017).

! On average, large IT projects run 45% over budget and 7% over time while delivering 56% less value than predicted (McKinsey, 2012).

How organizations use IT has grown in complexity

New strategies are needed to cope with these changes and ensure project success.

Since IT is more connected to other areas of the business like HR, Finance, Sales, and Travel, there is pressure to deliver on not only technical (hardware, software, and networks), but also non-technical (procedures, training, and support) tasks. This increases the risk of project failure. Today IT projects are characterized by a number of internal and external dependencies working with different organizational functions with lots of interfaces and information exchange requirements. Processes and functions that were connected through paper in the 80s and 90s now rely on interlinked applications, common data. and workflows. Traditional project management alone isn’t sufficient to maximize project benefits and deliver value.

"The days when projects were simply projects and project success was defined by the ‘iron triangle’ are long gone." – Dr. Lynda Bourne DPM, FACS, FAIM, PMP

1960s and 1970s: Few information systems were networked.

1980s: Networking standards were mostly proprietary to a company and there were few interfaces and interdependencies.

1990s: The rise of the internet and web standards resulted in a huge increase in the number of interconnections and information exchanges between systems.

2000s-Present: Information exchanges continue to grow with the addition of mobile devices.

Most organizations hope their IT projects will deliver value and drive strategic goals

Unfortunately, project management alone cannot guarantee this. Organizations should consider program management to maximize benefits from related projects.

  • Although many project and program management tools are similar on the surface, attempting to manage a program as a project can lead to failure or mediocre results.
  • Without program management, organizations are unable to analyze their processes to pinpoint where they are failing. This leads to inefficiencies that are usually avoidable.
  • Program management can be a complement to project management and reinforce it. Program management can focus on strategic outcomes so that projects have the freedom to focus on the delivery of outputs.

88% … of CEOs and CIOs on average experience frustration with IT’s failure to deliver value

(Info-Tech CEO/CIO alignment survey)

An individual project cannot act as an anchor between strategy and business as usual. It’s simply not strong enough to withstand external forces. When it is carried out as part of a program, however, the program acts as a buffer by distributing the weight of these forces and controlling the flow of change.

A program management approach offers a holistic solution

Grouping projects in programs is the key to bridging the gap between strategy and execution.

According to research done by the Project Management Institute, organizations with mature program management are far more successful than those without it. Program management leverages the advantages of a project management approach while maintaining alignment with organizational interests.

Info-Tech Insight

Think of programs as a tool in your tool belt. You may not need them very often, but it’s a good technique to have when you do.

"Program management has emerged as a distinct discipline in the late 20th Century. It progressively developed as project management was applied to more and more complex projects, to the management of strategic objectives or the management of multiple interrelated endeavors to produce strategic benefits." – Michel Thiry

Use Info-Tech’s program management framework to help maximize your project benefits and improve delivery

There are two paths to program management: the optimal (top-down) and the reactive (bottom-up) approach. Most organizations need to take the reactive path and that’s okay. This blueprint will help you organize your projects and start getting to strategic outcomes faster.

The image contains a screenshot of the path of programs of both optimal and reactive paths as described in the text beside the image.

The Optimal Path Less Traveled

Start with a strategy and assess the different projects that would be required to reach your goals. The intent is to bring about significant changes with your organization.

The Reactive but Common Path

Assess your current standalone projects and determine which ones are interrelated and dependent on each other and then group them under one program. These projects will work along similar lines following the same strategy.

About Info-Tech

Info-Tech Research Group is the world’s fastest-growing information technology research and advisory company, proudly serving over 30,000 IT professionals.

We produce unbiased and highly relevant research to help CIOs and IT leaders make strategic, timely, and well-informed decisions. We partner closely with IT teams to provide everything they need, from actionable tools to analyst guidance, ensuring they deliver measurable results for their organizations.

What Is a Blueprint?

A blueprint is designed to be a roadmap, containing a methodology and the tools and templates you need to solve your IT problems.

Each blueprint can be accompanied by a Guided Implementation that provides you access to our world-class analysts to help you get through the project.

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Guided Implementation 1: Assess current projects and determine your next program
  • Call 1: Perform a scoping call.
  • Call 2: Determine your current level of project coordination and benefits realization.
  • Call 3: Discuss what value looks like and identify goals.
  • Call 4: Identify related projects.

Guided Implementation 2: Initiate program
  • Call 1: Discuss roles and responsibilities and determine program stakeholders.
  • Call 2: Discuss stakeholder management.
  • Call 3: Identify the intended benefits of the program and develop a benefits realization plan that will be managed through the program to ensure that planned benefits always have owners and are achieved, sustained, and optimized.
  • Call 4: Create program charter in preparation to initiate the program.


Ugbad Farah


  • Mohamed Kotb, Program Manager, Diebold Nixdorf
  • Pam Fluttert, Manager PMO IST, University of Waterloo
  • Connie van Oostveen Manager, Portfolio Strategy, University of Waterloo
  • 7 anonymous contributors
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