Series on Program Management: Transitioning to Program Management – Part 1


The Ah Ha Moment

By Russ Martinelli, Jim Waddell, Tim Rahschulte

Program Management Academy

Oregon, USA


Program management has been the basis for developing products, services, infrastructure capabilities, and for managing transitional change initiatives for decades. Its use however, has become more wide-spread in recent years. Not surprisingly we have found that how program management is established and practiced can vary greatly. From companies that use it as an important extension of their business processes, to other companies that use program management in a more limited role such as providing administrative and facilitation support, many times supporting the firm’s project management efforts.

Increasingly organizations are recognizing the importance of program management as a key factor in improving and achieving their business results. Supporting this recognition, PMI states that, “A key difference between program management and project management is the strategic focus of programs. Programs are designed to align with organizational strategy and ensure organizational benefits are recognized.”

Through our careers we have seen that a transition to program management can yield significant improvement in a firm’s ability to achieve their strategic goals, competitive position, and financial results. 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.

We begin this four-part article series with a case study experienced by the authors. The case highlights 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 underscore the fact that sustainable change has to be driven from the top of the organization for effectiveness and sustainability. Additionally, we will introduce the concept of the program management continuum and show why it is critical for senior leaders, functional and line managers, and program and project managers within an organization to recognize and understand where they are on the continuum in order to align expectations, properly set roles and responsibilities, as well as empower and set decision-making boundaries for their various players and positions.


To read entire article (click here)

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/