Complex programs


The program: a useful tool that too often fails to deliver expected results

Julhiet-Sterwen draws a contrasted view of the use of complex programs. Programs are relevant tools to address businesses’ transformation challenges. They provide a coherent steering framework for the various projects implemented, regardless of their nature: IS, processes, organisation, etc. But the real challenge is not so much to monitor/steer programs but rather to make them succeed… and the balance is not there!

  • 52% do not fulfil their budget/planning/scope commitments
  • A large-scale program (>10M€) has a failure rate ten times higher than a project (<1M€)

Moreover, simply respecting the triple constraint cost/ time/scope is no longer synonymous of true success. The expected outcome is a lasting and in-depth transformation.
To that end, it is necessary to guarantee the relevance of the delivered solutions and their appropriation by business stakeholders.
Digital or IT departments must therefore rethink their approaches if they want to deliver on their promises.


The methodology: the Alpha – but not the Omega!

“Conventional” repositories provide a proven framework for IS projects. However, their limit lies in a predictive and sequential approach… With the risk of seeing a gap between delivered solutions and the needs and constraints in constant evolution!
Agile methods are being deployed as companies develop their digital culture. They change habits at the operational level as well as at project and corporate governance levels. Their use for projects constrained by time and content (regulatory, technical etc.) is, however, of little relevance.
Mixed approaches (such as SAFe) help to reconcile these two worlds. They are therefore relevant tools for the management of programs and projects portfolios. The aim is to select the right approach to address the actual situation and apply it with pragmatism and efficiency.
Regardless of the method, a rigorous (reliable data), agile (information is important, not the reporting) and informed (knowledge of context and background) PMO is essential for effective management.


Individual and collective intelligence, the best allies for success

We can summarize the key success factors of program management in 2 intentions:

  • Regularly checking on the adequacy of the deliverables with the final need
  • Cultivating quality interactions with the stakeholders

Methodology and management tools define the steering technical framework. But it is by using human levers that the system comes to life, that the inevitable difficulties are solved and that the program is brought to a successful conclusion.

A proof of concept to create the culture of « succeeding together »

Beyond the benefits (already significant) obtained by applying the above principles to a given strategic program, creating the conditions for collective success based on an appropriate method and collective and individual intelligence – and sharing their experience and results – can be used as foundations for a new lasting culture, breaking with the relations in “customer-supplier” mode that still often characterize relationships between the IT actors and their clients.