New Developments in Program Management


Advances in Project Management Series

By Michel Thiry

United Kingdom


Since the first edition of my book Program Management was published 5 years ago, program management has evolved both as a distinct discipline and as an organisational capability. As a discipline it has reached a point where, today, the main program management standards and writers agree that it is meant to deal with complex and turbulent situations and to deliver benefits, not products. It is also becoming more of an organisational capability and practice focuses more and more on its integration within the business, from strategy formulation to sustainability of benefits.

All these developments could be encapsulated in the maturing of the program culture. In this paper, I will examine five aspects of this cultural evolution:

  1. The rise of agility and its effect on program management
  2. The alignment of the main program management standards
  3. The integration of program management in the organisation
  4. The distinction between projects and programs
  5. The management of change as a key aspect of program management

Agility and program management

Complex and turbulent situations require a cyclic and flexible approach that today is labelled “Agile”. The concepts on which agile is based have existed for a long time, but the popularity of agile management has helped managers understand and accept the culture shifts necessary to manage programs. I will aim to explain how agile methods and program management share the same cultural paradigms.

Program management has evolved from the complexity created by a number of interrelated projects and the number of stakeholders involved; from the need to span from strategy to operations and from the ambiguity involved in constantly emergent decision-making. Agile methods were developed to deal with projects that could not be dealt with using traditional project management methodology. Projects that are complex, involving many unknowns in terms of design, and the effect that results have on expected benefits cannot be managed using traditional project management methods.

In 2001 a group of thinkers of what was then called “lightweight methods” issued the “Agile Manifesto to tackle complex, fast-moving IT programming projects. This

Manifesto states four basic ideas:


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Editor’s note: The Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Gower in the UK. Information about the Gower series can be found at http://www.gowerpublishing.com/advancesinprojectmanagement.



About the Author 

Michel Thiry

Valense, Ltd.

United Kingdom


Michel Thiry
is Founder and Managing Partner of Valense Ltd. He has an extensive worldwide experience and has worked in many cultural environments. He specialises in strategic applications of project, program and value at organizational level and has supported the development and implementation of a number of strategic programs for major corporations in numerous fields.

He is a regular Keynote Speaker for major International events, both at the Academic and Practice levels. In 2013, the PMI® published the new edition of his book “A Framework for Value Management Practice”. In 2015, Gower published the Second Edition of his best-seller “Program Management”. He has also written a number of academic and practitioner papers as well as book chapters in prominent PM books including known standards.

In 2006 he was awarded the PMI Fellow and in 2014 he was awarded the PMI Eric Jenett Project Management Excellence Award for outstanding contributions to the practice of the profession for his work on program management.