The importance of context in programme management: An empirical review of programme practices (Pellegrinelli et al., 2007)

 Context in Programs

Pellegrinelli, Sergio; Partington, David; Hemingway, Chris; Mohdzainb, Zaher; Shah, Mahmood: The importance of context in programme management – An empirical review of programme practices; in: International Journal of Project Management, Vol. 25 (2007), No. 1, pp. 41-55.

Pellegrinelli et al. study actual practices on programs which mainly consist of projects. Surprisingly they find that the OGC’s Managing Successful Programmes framework (MSP) is not consistently adopted even when its use is mandated by the organisation. Furthermore they found that following MSP rigorously leads to a controlling dominated management agenda and not a empowering agenda. Their main findings for each MSP category are

  • Organisation & Leadership – mostly living on paper only, IT rather than business counterparts perform the roles needed
  • Benefits Management – mostly unquantifiable benefits or intangible benefits, general perception that this approach doesn’t fit RUP  (or any of the other unified processes of software development)
  • Stakeholder Management & Communication – n/a
  • Risk Management & Issue resolution – mostly risk management is missing completely on a program level
  • Program Planning & Control – often overruled by central head quarter
  • Business Case Management – Only symbolic artifact or only used to secure funding and never updated afterwards
  • Quality Management – are more adoptions of organisational practices already in place than the MSP processes

In short Pellegrinelli et al. revealed significant and on-going crafting of programme content, structures and processes to reconcile divergent aims and interests, to expedite progress in the face of adversity and to engage multiple sponsors, contributors and stakeholders. Thus the authors showed the importance and influence of context, namely the dynamic cultural, political and business environment in which the programmes operate, and the organisationally embedded nature of programme management.

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