© 2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
a CompetenCy model
for program managers
Programs can vary from an internal initiative to improve overall
program management processes, or to increase maturity in project,
program, and portfolio management, to the implementation of an
enterprise resource planning (ERP) program or the building of a new
aircraft or submarine. e need for competent program managers who
can initiate, plan, execute, monitor, and control these complex under-
takings has never been greater. An increasing number of the authors’
clients expect to initiate improvement in their program management
capabilities, including training, professional development activities,
methodologies, and processes, in the next two years. In fact, there has
never been a better time to be a program manager.
Table2.1 shows the dierences between project management and
program management at a high level (Ward 2009). e dierences
noted are not an “either/or” binary reference; in fact, the dierences
should be read as two ends of a continuum.
Crawford (2005) notes that dierent levels of people perceive com-
petency in dierent ways. She explains that senior managers often
resist involvement by project managers in practices concerning strat-
egy, denition, integration, and communication. Senior managers
consider these practices as over-arching while the focus of the project
manager is (or perhaps should be) on time, cost, scope, and procure-
ment, thus conrming the dierence noted in Table2.1 on a more
singular, narrow focus at the project manager level. e nature of the
specic project is another concern, as reported by Einsiedel in her
study (reported in Crawford 2005), in which project management
eectiveness depends on a wide variety of factors, some of which
14 Program management ComPlexitY
© 2011 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
have little or nothing to do with the managers’ personal ability or
motivation” (p. 11).
e U.S. Government Accountability Oce (GAO 2005) con-
ducted a survey based on the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DoD)
long-established program management function to determine whether
the DoD’s program management performance was mature enough to
be able to deliver the intended benets from the funds allocated to it.
e GAO study compared program management practices from large
corporations to those of the DoD. It noted there were nine environ-
mental factors that the companies in the survey found were essential
to program management success:
1. Use investment strategies
2. Use evolutionary development
3. Match requirements to resources
4. Match the right people to the program
5. Use knowledge-driven development decisions
6. Empower program managers
7. Demand accountability
8. Require tenure
9. Continue senior leadership support
It is interesting to note the emphasis in this study on matching the
right people to the program. is observation, among other factors, led
to our development of this competency model for program managers.
Partington et al. (2005) explain that an interpretive approach is
required, which we have tried to create. ey describe traditional
approaches to competence as work oriented and worker oriented. Work
Table2.1 Differences between Program Management and Project Management
Focus Nonstrategic Strategic
Objectives Singular Multiple
Extent of Change Narrow Broad
Benefits Realization Once Incremental
Deliverable Complexity Low High
Deliverable Quantity Few Many
Overall Time Scale Rigid Loose
Scope Change Exceptional Desirable
Functional Diversity Minimal Multidisciplinary

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