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Death by Programme

Political Correctness was once a good idea. Now it is a tyrant. I feel the same about Programme Orthodoxy. A concept which started life as a necessary corrective for the narrow minded has turned into a religion. Heretics beware.

Who needs programmes? You do, if you think that a project starts with a specification and ends with a deliverable. But how many half-decent Project Managers think that now? Do you think that now? Programmes have helped to remove the blinkers of "just deliver to specification" but are in danger of replacing them with a blindfold.

Programmes are being heralded as the answer to most of the project world's problems. More often they are burying problems instead of resolving them. They lie festering in some forgotten corner out of the Project Manager's sight. Programme Managers with no grasp of project management skills are appearing. Project Managers are seen as a lower life-form. Benefits, business change, communications and stakeholder management are being pushed out of projects into programmes. Additional layers of "control" prevent those who need something from talking with those who can deliver it.

I now know why programmes have no end date.

Programmes are not the same as projects, we hear, they are not well defined, they are full of interdependencies, they evolve with time, they have to consider ongoing as well as time-bound activities. For years, I have worked on projects which were not well defined, which were full of interdependencies and which evolved with time. Welcome to the world of real rather than theoretical projects. We could re-brand 99% of projects as programmes. What would we gain? What we would lose is control.

I'm a realist. I know that we are stuck with "programmes". The higher salaries and day rates of "Programme Managers" will ensure that. But we can limit this blight.