Building a Popular Program

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Attracting and retaining talented workers is the key to any program’s success. To make their programs more attractive to the workforce, program managers need to address their project’s qualitative and quantitative needs. This involves planning out the costs, schedule and performance requirements of their program, as well as managing the interpersonal relationships that form its foundation.

Identifying the work that needs to be done, categorizing that work into buckets that can be delegated and then prioritizing tasks to ensure things are done in the right order are the first steps toward making sure the program runs efficiently, Mitchell L. Springer, author of Program Management: A Comprehensive Overview of the Discipline, said.

Revisiting the original plan that won the program is also crucial to keeping everyone on task. While it’s impossible to follow the original plan to a T, creating a baseline of projected costs and time frames allows managers to see how far they’ve veered from the original plan and identify where they may need to make adjustments before things get too far off track.

Because every program experiences hundred of changes, it’s important to be aware of how those alterations will impact the projected baseline and other project goals, Springer said. If it seems the program may not be meeting the client’s requirements, it’s important to make the customer aware of the problems sooner rather than later.

“The most important thing you can do if you see changes are occurring is engage the customer,” Springer said. “Get them involved. Help them be part of the solution.”

The qualitative side of the equation involves managing relationships.

It’s common knowledge that the No. 1 reason employees quit their jobs is because of bad relationships with their managers, so giving technical people management training when they are promoted is critical to running a successful program, Springer said.

“It’s a death sentence to have people leaving your program during a critical time,” he said.

To keep people engaged in the project and happy with their contribution, it’s important for program managers to understand what motivates different segments of their workforce. With four different generations of people working together on a given program, it can be difficult to keep everyone happy with the same work schedule and incentives. To make their programs appealing to talented individuals of all ages, managers need to be flexible enough to cater to a wide range of needs, Springer said.

“There are different things that motivate the various generations that are working side by side,” he said. “Understanding these differences will help program managers better understand what motivates people to do the things they do.”

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