Strategic deployment of Program Management best-practice model in financial
Author Name: Kaushik Pramanik
A truly global professional service firm with high visibility in the BFSI domain; structured and industry
standard best-practice Program Management framework is very much essential to gain the increased
This article is focused on industry-standard practices and briefly describes how to deploy such a
framework in the global financial institutions.
Financial institutions like Banks, Insurance companies, Financial data providers, Stock exchanges execute
many multi-million dollars cross-functional and cross-divisional transformation programs spanning
across different geographic regions and divisions.
Programme Management may be defined as the co-ordinated organisation, direction and
implementation of a portfolio of projects and activities that together achieve outcomes and realise
benefits that are of strategic importance.
Effective and efficient Program Management is the key success factor to any financial institutions to
transform the company’s vision and various inter-related strategic objectives spanning across different
sectors like core business, IT, operation, HR, finance; etc.
There are number of Program Management framework exists within the industry; as example, PMI
(Project Management Institute) based SPM (Standard for Program Management) framework, TSO (The
Stationary Office, UK Government) based MSP (Managing Successful Programs) framework, University of
Oxford Program Management framework, George Washington University Program Management
However, very few companies around the world follow the best-practice framework provided by major
institutes and universities even though there is a high level of benefit for using the industry-standard
program management framework. This article will provide a very brief overview of PMI based SPM
approach and TSO (The Stationary Office, UK Government) based MSP approach and how to deploy any
of these models through-out a global company through strategic execution.
Brief Overview of PMI based Standard for Program Management (SPM) approach:
Program delivers benefits to organizations by developing new capabilities or enhancing current
capabilities. Programs are initiated for achieving organizational goals and strategic objectives that are so
large scale that they cannot be achieved by single project. Diagrammatic view of Standard for Program
Management framework is given below.
Source: THE STANDARD FOR THE PROGRAM MANAGEMENT, Second Edition, PMI, Chapter 1, 2 & 3
PMI based Standard for Program Management framework mainly consists of following key areas.
• Program Governance and Stakeholder Management: This area spans all the program life cycle
phases. Program governance overseas the progress of the program and the delivery of the
coordinated benefits from its components.
Programs are often too complex to be managed by a single individual, which is why appropriate
implementation of program governance is the critical factor for a program to succeed. Program
governance helps in managing risks, stakeholders’ benefits, resources, and quality across the
program life cycle. Furthermore, program governance ensures decision-making and delivery
management activities are focused on achieving program goals in a consistent manner, addressing
appropriate risks, and fulfilling stakeholder requirements.
Program governance also provides an appropriate organizational structure, the policies and
procedures necessary to support program delivery through formal program reviews. This is
facilitated by the regular and phase-gate-based monitoring of deliverables, performance, risks, and
issues by the program board.
Program stakeholder management identifies how the program will affect stakeholders (e.g., the
organizations’ culture, the local population, country-specific culture, resistance or barriers to
change, bureaucracy, etc.) and then develops a communication strategy to engage the affected
stakeholders, manage their expectations and manage acceptance of the objectives of the program.
Program stakeholder management is the very important factor to establish the program governance
and program organizational structure, which is monitored and reviewed through-out the program
• Program Life Cycle: Typical program life cycle consists of five phases (Pre-Program Preparations,
Program Initiation, Program Set-up, Delivery of Program Benefits, and Program Closure) as
mentioned in the above picture. End of each phase works as an entry point to the next phase.
During the various stages of program life cycle, program manager understands the strategic benefits
of the program, develop the plan to initiate the program, define the program objectives and their
alignment with the organizations’ goals and vision, develop the high-level business case
demonstrating an understanding of the needs, business benefits, feasibility and justification of the
program, establish the program governance mechanism, risk management protocols, and program
schedule. The program life cycle complies with the needs of corporate governance and also ensures
that the expected benefits are realized in a predictable and coordinated manner.
• Program Benefits Management: Program delivers benefits to the organization. Benefits realization
planning is part of program management which consists of interdependencies between benefits,
alignment with the strategic goals of the organization, benefit of delivery scheduling, metrics and
measurement, responsibility for delivery of the final and intermediate benefits within the program,
and benefit realization.
At the end of the program, the benefits delivered should always be compared against those
promised in the initial business case to ensure that the program actually delivered the full benefits
for which it was created.
• Program Management Process Groups: Program management process groups are a set of
interrelated actions, and activities performed to achieve a pre-specified outcome. Program
management processes are primarily integrative in that they coordinate the outputs of various
projects to derive the desired program outcomes.
A shown in the above picture, there are five processes (Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring &
Controlling and Closing) in program management. Processes receive inputs from processes that
logically precede them and send outputs to successor processes. A guiding rule for applying program
management processes is to ensure that the program manager effectively delegates authority,
autonomy and responsibility for day-to-day management of the projects to the designated project
Brief Overview of TSO based Managing Successful Programs (MSP) approach:
TSO (The Stationary Office, UK Government) based MSP approach is basically based on a two-layer
framework. As shown below in the diagram, the outer layer concentrates on various program principals
like empowerment, leading the change, envisioning, adding value, focusing on benefits, alignment with
corporate strategy, capability development and learning experience. These principals are very important
to execute a global transformation program in the organization and mostly linked with leadership skills
associated with Program Management.
TSO (The Stationary Office) - Frameworkand Process
1. MSP framework and concepts, published by The Stationary Office (TSO), UK Government
3. Managing Successful Programmes Manual - 4th Edition
4. Swiss Program Management Conference, 2012
The second layer core consists of program management activities like program vision development,
organization, stakeholder management, business case development, blue print design, planning &
control, program risk management, quality management, program delivery, benefit realization
Many global financial institutes do not follow any industry-standard program management framework
rather than follow their own customized framework and guidelines to execute the program. Sometimes
the in-house framework is not consistent enough.
The usage of inconsistent approach results various downside risks like increased financial risk (e.g.;
budget overrun), reduced customer satisfaction, low quality ends deliverables, slippage on schedule,
usage of different program terminology, processes and tools, below the standard management and KPI
reporting, and lacking of controlled governance mechanism.
The main reason behind this is that Sr. Management of the organization doesn’t value best practice, or
they are not aware of the latest industry standard. Many program managers are not properly trained to
execute a complex cross-divisional and cross-functional program in the large organization and very few
people in the company are aware of strategic implications of program management and portfolio
To overcome this problem, it is very much essential to form a central program management control
department which will be responsible for rolling-out the best-practice framework across divisions and
regions through effective communication, collaboration and hands-on training to program managers.
Deployment of Program Management best practice framework in the global organization across
divisions and regions is a herculean task. To achieve the goal, several strategic measures have to be
taken into consideration.
As shown in the below figure, three work streams have to be formed. The Communication and
Communities Work stream is responsible for creating the awareness about program management,
communicating guidelines & policies about the best-practice framework and establishing the program
management community across the organization.
Deployment model: Work Stream concept
Management – Best
Communities Work Stream
Training, Tools & Techniques,
and Support Work Stream
Prioritise & communicate
Define rewards &recognition
Evaluate framework &roadmap
Source: Own idea
Training, Tools & Techniques, and Support work stream is responsible for development and execution of
a framework related to training, tools & techniques, and user support of “Program Management – Best
Practice” to increase the quality and efficiency of numerous program management environments in
the global organization.
Finally, Cross – functional collaboration work stream will be responsible for collaboration and
coordination between above two work streams across organizational divisions and regions, corporate
training department, external parties to facilitate smooth deployment of “Program Management – Best
Practice” framework in the company.
Furthermore, a strong governance model must be in place to integrate three work streams mentioned
above. The main responsibilities of the governance model are setting-up the strategic direction,
disciplined execution, prioritize and communicate, establishment of accountability, definition of reward
& recognition and various investment decisions. A sample governance model for deployment is given
Program Management– Best Practice Governance
Strongfocus from top.
Endto end governance.
Topto bottom transparency.
Clearstrategy & big picture.
Well drawnroad map.
COO / DOO GIO
Each work stream will have governance mechanism…
Source: Own idea
All major financial institutions are continuously lacking of standard program management practice. In
today’s volatile economic and global environment, it is very important to streamline program
management practice across the organization which will help to achieve company’s vision, goals and
strategic objectives in a systematic manner. The industry standard best-practice methodology provides a
sustainable framework that is clear, complete, relevant and generally recognized as good practices on
most programs, most of the time.
1. The Standard For Program Management, Second Edition by PMI (Project Management
3. Managing Successful Programmes Manual - 4th Edition
4. Swiss Program Management Conference, 2012