Series on Program Management: Introduction to New Series: Transitioning to Program Management


By Russ Martinelli, Jim Waddell, Tim Rahschulte

Program Management Academy 

Oregon, USA

Organizational transformation such as introducing program management into an organization, or even changing the existing program management function, is a challenging endeavor. Fortunately, we have seen that a transition to program management can yield significant improvement in a firm’s ability to achieve their strategic objectives, competitive position, and financial returns. To realize such improvement requires an awareness, willingness, and commitment to change the organization’s culture, overcome internal politics, and establish a new mindset regarding roles, responsibilities, and functions.

In the book titled “Program Management for Improved Business Results, 2nd Edition, we introduced the program management continuum as a way to demonstrate the variations in the way program management is used within companies today, and to serve as a model to guide transition to higher levels of program management maturity. An important element of the continuum is something we refer to as the point of transition. This is a philosophical decision point where the senior leaders of an organization make a purposeful decision to transition their organization from being primarily project-oriented to being program-oriented.

The desire to cross the transition point is the call to action that triggers a number of organizational changes that can affect all levels of management and employees. It changes the rules of engagement, decision-making hierarchies, teams and team structures, and requires competencies different than those prevalent in traditional project-oriented organizations. This series of articles for PM World Journal focuses on the key aspects of organizational transition to program management.

We should point out that the articles are written from a practitioner’s point of view. We work in industry, and therefore our experience and perspectives are first-hand and real world. We welcome your comments, perspectives, challenges and other feedback. The following is a set of abstracts for the four articles presented in this series titled “Transitioning to Program Management”.

Part 1 – The Ah-Ha Moment

We begin this article series with a brief case study of an organization which has embarked on a program management transition. In this case, program management is not new to the organization. Rather, it is a case where a once strong and effective program management function was left to atrophy due to a period of senior management disinvestment. We use this real-world example, titled “The Ah-Ha Moment”, to introduce the Program Management Continuum and to underscore the fact that sustainable change has to be driven from the top of the organization.


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The PMWJ series of articles on program management is authored by Russell Martinelli, Tim Rahschulte and James Waddell, principle advisors at the Program Management Academy in Oregon, USA.   More about the authors and the Program Management Academy can be found at http://www.programmanagement-academy.com/.

About the Authors

pmwj26-sep2014-martinelli-AUTHOR1 MARTINELLIRuss Martinelliflag-usa

Oregon, USA

Russ Martinelli is a senior program manager at Intel Corporation, one of the world’s largest semiconductor companies. Russ has many years of experience leading global product development teams in both the aerospace and computing industries. Russ is also a founder of the Program Management Academy (www.programmanagement-academy.com), and co-author of Leading Global Project Teams and the first comprehensive book on program management titled Program Management for Improved Business Results. Russ can be contacted at [email protected].

To view other works by Russ Martinelli, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/russ-martinelli/

pmwj26-sep2014-martinelli-AUTHOR2 WADDELLJim Waddellflag-usa

Oregon, USA

Jim Waddell, former PMO director in the high-tech industry, is a founder of the Program Management Academy (www.programmanagement-academy.com) where he consultants in program management and mergers & acquisitions. He has held a variety of management positions in the high tech and energy industries, has been a speaker at numerous conferences, and is a co-author of two books: Leading Global Project Teams and Program Management for Improved Business Results. Jim can be contacted at [email protected].

To view other works by Jim Waddell, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/jim-waddell/

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATim Rahschulteflag-usa

Oregon, USA

Tim Rahschulte is co-author of Program Management for Improved Business Results and an executive director at the Program Management Academy. Tim is also responsible for international management and leadership studies at George Fox University in Oregon. He consults with state governments in the USA on matters of organizational change as a business transition architect. Contact Tim at [email protected].

To view other works by Tim Rahschulte, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/tim-rahschulte/