Practioner’s Guide to Program Management


Book Title:    The Practioner’s Guide to Program Management
Author:  Irene Didinsky, MBP, PMP
Publisher:  Project Management Institute, Inc.
List Price:  $39.95
Format:  Paperback, 235 pages
Publication Date:   May 2017      
ISBN: 978-1-62825-368-9
Reviewer: Melissa Zahn, PMP
Review Date:   March 2018



“A Practitioner’s Guide to Program Management” by Irene Didinsky is meant to be used as a desktop manual in the day-to-day work of practicing Program Managers.  Irene states that she recognized that there weren’t many books published on program management so she set out to create a standard approach and user manual on the topic.  This book is published by PMI and she aligns the concepts with PMI’s The Standard for Program Management published in 2006.

This book goes into detail about how to manage a program throughout the program’s life cycle and even has detailed tips for setting up a program, managing and reporting on the program status using Microsoft Project.

Overview of Book’s Structure

The book contains an Executive Summary, 11 chapters and a glossary of terms and is 235 pages in length.  Chapters 1 and 2 cover the history of program management, compares project versus program management, and defines what makes a successful Program Manager.  Chapters 3 – 7 introduce the program management concepts of strategy alignment, benefits realization, stakeholder engagement, program governance, and the program life cycle.  Chapters 8 (Program Management Infrastructure) and 9 (Effective Program Management) are very detailed chapters and are meant to be used as the practioner’s guide portion of the book.  Chapters 10 and 11 are the Future of Program Management and Program Management Community of Practice.  Chapter 11 discusses the value of participating in an existing Program Management Community of Practice and if one doesn’t exist in your area, it explains how to set up and start a Community of Practice in your organization.


The two highlights for me were in Chapter 2.  The first is when Irene introduced the concept of the program management continuum, which is referenced from the book, Program Management for Improved Business Results by James M. Waddell and Russ J. Martinelli.  She explains that there are two types of organizations, project-oriented and program-oriented and then there are levels of proficiency within these two types and based on where your organization is on the continuum can determine the true benefits derived by program management.

The second highlight is when she introduced the program proficiency framework which included an illustration of this concept and breaks down the proficiency needed for a Program Manager into three categories: program leadership, program operational management, and interpersonal skills.  Each of these categories is further divided into specific skills needed by the program manager.  The program proficiency framework is described in an easy-to-understand format and illustrated with several diagrams and tables.  When I was reading this portion of the book, I highlighted several skills and think that I can write a great job description for a program management role in my organization.


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About the Reviewer

Melissa Zahn, PMP

Texas, USA



Melissa Zahn, PMP is a Marketing Technology Architect in the Financial Services industry.  She has spent the last 18 months as a Program Manager managing a name change program for her organization.  Melissa was certified as a PMP in January 2005 and has been an active member of the Alamo PMI organization ever since.  She has worked in the Financial Services industry for 30 years and has experience in program and project management, software implementation projects, and IT management.  She has a track record for successfully implementing large cross-functional projects.

Email address:  www.linkedin.com/in/melissa-zahn-aba8a712

Editor’s note:  Editor’s note:  This book review was the result of a partnership between the publisher, PM World and the
Alamo PMI Chapter in San Antonio, Texas. Authors and publishers provide the books to PM World; books are delivered to the PMI Alamo Chapter, where they are offered free to PMI members to review; book reviews are published in the PM World Journal and PM World Library.  PMI Alamo Chapter members can keep the books as well as claim PDUs for PMP recertification when their reviews are published.  PMI members are generally mid-career professionals, the audience for most project management books.   

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