How to Manage Complex Programs



Book Title: How to Manage Complex Programs: High-Impact Techniques for Handling Project Workflow, Deliverables, and Teams
Author: Tom Kendrick
Publisher: AMACOM
List Price: $24.09
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Publication Date: May 2016
ISBN: 978-0814436929
Reviewer: Dr. Charles Y. Chen, PhD, PMP
Review Date: August 2018



The effort needed to manage a program is no less challenging than conducting an orchestra. A program manager must oversee the projects, identify and acquire resources, manage the budget, ensure proper communication, foresee potential risks, manage stakeholder expectations, and meet deadlines. The list goes on and on. Indeed, while a program manager not only needs to unify all the projects within the program, uncertainties have to be managed. Because a program is composed of many projects, a successful program manager needs a fundamental understanding of the principles of project management and how projects can be managed in a unified fashion within a program construct. Indeed, this can sound very daunting, especially for a new program manager.

How to Manage Complex Programs provides a program manager a set of tools and strategies to manage the day-to-day program complexity. This book provides the reader basic program management skills and much more. Using diagrams, flowcharts, and real-life examples, the author helps a program manager establish transparent cross-functional communication, develop integrated planning, identify metrics & KPIs, navigate change management, align stakeholder expectations, and identify and acquire resources. While the realities of program management can be very challenging, How to Manage Complex Programs will put the program manager onto the path to success.

 Overview of Book’s Structure

The Program Management Institute decomposes project management into five processes: initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and closing*. How to Manage Complex Programs is written in a very similar fashion.

The book begins with a foundational discussion about what program management is and the complexity involved. The author then uses the following chapters to walk through the steps and strategies of Program Initiation, Program Deliverable Management, Program Planning and Organization, Program Execution and Control, and Program Closure. A chapter is specifically dedicated to Program Leadership because a key part of program management is overseeing and coordinating multiple project teams and people working the numerous activities.


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About the Reviewer

Dr. Charles Y. Chen

Texas, USA




Dr. Charles Y. Chen, PMP has had the privilege of leading teams of engineers and scientists to transform ideas into viable products. His career began at Northrop Grumman, initially as a systems engineer and then as a program manager, he led matrixed teams of engineers to innovate, mature, and produce new electronic sensor technologies and algorithms. Energetics Incorporated introduced Charlie to the world of management consulting. Initially as a director then as the Chief Strategy Officer, he led teams to help clients transition ideas developed in the laboratory to the marketplace, overcoming the so-called valley of death. At Hover Energy, Dr. Chen led the key activities to build a new wind turbine designed for the urban environment. He is currently an Engineering Fellow at the Raytheon Company.

Dr. Chen received his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University. He received his Executive Education from University of Chicago Booth School of Business. As a PMP, he looks forward to leading his next team to achieve the impossible.

Email address:

[email protected].



Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the publisher, PM World and the PMI Dallas Chapter. Authors and publishers provide the books to PM World; books are delivered to the PMI Dallas Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library.  If you are an author or publisher of a project management-related book, and would like the book reviewed through this program, please contact [email protected].