Programs are structured groupings of projects designed to produce clearly identified business results or other end benefits. The program focus is on all steps required to deliver business results. It is the effectively managed, blended business investment program that delivers the benefits to the organization. The program view is more powerful than many managers expect when they first see it. It has proven its worth to clients who have used it, for example to mesh organizational change with the introduction of new technologies.
Consider the example of Client A, which wanted to use new software to help in its effort to decentralize some of its human resource (HR) activities. The department wanted to reduce the long chain of handoffs for many HR operations, typically beginning with HR associates from different departments moving to HR managers and then the central recruiting department and then back to the associate. It believed a new HR software package would provide the solution. At first, it looked like a vision of technology-driven change.
The new system would drive a radical decentralization of responsibility to various HR departments handling everything from approvals, compensation packages to processing of payroll and online forms for vacation approvals. This would be inline with pressure to streamline the department and reduce HR operating costs, all while improving the level of HR service to employees. Changes would be required at the individual, department and organization level.
It did not take long for the department heads to realize instinctively what the Benefits Realization Approach makes explicit. The benefits being targeted were not inside the new package. And there was a big difference between a new technology that drives organizational change and one that enables change - along with many other elements of the business system. These were questions, in particular about people and organizational issues. Would people feel threatened by the software project? Would employees perceive the decentralization as extra work for them?
Department leaders diagnosed the problem early. They realized this was a business transformation initiative with broad scope and impact. A Benefits Realization approach was used to expand a potential silver bullet project into a well-rounded change program. The program manager included not only steps to introduce the new software smoothly, with appropriate coaching, but also these key projects: preparing a detailed communications plan for all stakeholders groups, holding department vision workshops, developing transition plan with well-definef accountabilities and organizing discussions and feedback sessions.
Today this is one of the most successful programs at Client A. Meshing the Technological Change with Organizational Change lead to the success. Managers and Leaders need to take a large mental leap to understand the program view. They need to embrace the benefits mind-set that sees investments in IT as part of blended business investment programs rather than stand-alone IT projects.