Guest Column | May 19, 2014

Packaging And Labeling: Program Management Considerations

Stephen McIndoe

By Stephen McIndoe BEng CEng MIET, VP Consulting, Be4ward

In my first four articles in this series on change and program management of artwork improvement projects, I talked about:

  • Issues that need to be considered when setting up an artwork capability improvement program
  • Change management aspects to consider to ensure the change is delivered in a sustainable way
  • How to design and resource individual improvement projects to ensure effective delivery

In most organizations, there are likely to be a number of artwork improvement projects and initiatives underway, and the application of good program management practices is a central part of ensuring successful delivery. There is much written about successful program management, so in this article, I will look at some of the aspects we have seen that are important for success.

Appropriate Governance

First, it is important to ensure there is effective cross-functional governance in place to govern the entire program. This should ensure that all impacted parts of the organization are appropriately represented at an appropriate level of seniority, and have sufficient authority to make required decisions. The governance also needs to make sure there are effective interfaces to other functional or corporate senior governance teams as required.

In a prior article, we discussed standard projected phases, and from a program perspective, it is essential that projects are organized in standard phases with clear approval gates between where the appropriate governance can endorse further progress. This ensures projects remain aligned to business requirements, necessary phase deliverables are achieved, and projects continue to be set up for success. It also ensures individual projects are clear of the expectations (from governance) for the deliverables to be achieved to complete each phase.

The project phases and gate approach also allows the governance to exercise an effective prioritization process, ensuring constrained resources are targeted to the most appropriate activities, and the overall program can be tuned to the evolving business environment. It is essential that all relevant parts of the organization are represented in prioritization decisions to ensure that such decisions consider all business perspectives and are bought into by each part of organization.

Processes need to be in place to ensure effective escalation of risks and issues from individual projects to appropriate levels of the program governance, and clear accountability needs to be in place across the governance to ensure that the right people or groups are making necessary decisions.

To minimize unnecessary waste and ensure consistency, program management processes need to be applied uniformly across all projects and supporting documentation and reports should be standardized.

Effective Project Management

In most programs, individual projects are delivering parts of an overall solution. It is therefore important that the overall design of that target end point is architected, understood, and agreed upon by all relevant parties, and each project clearly understands which elements they are accountable for. Furthermore, the sequence of implementation of individual projects in each organizational location or team needs to be carefully considered to ensure there is a logical migration towards the target design at each node.  If this isn’t done, confusion or even business continuity issues can arise during deployment when different nodes are at different points on the migration path.

Appropriate and capable project managers need to be appointed and held accountable to deliver individual project(s).  They need to be answerable to the program manager and associated governance. Critical resources (in terms of people, roles and skills/competencies) need to be monitored across the program.  Project approval, through the prioritization process, to proceed to the next gate needs to be cognisant of the availability of required resources to complete those aspects of work.

Quality Control

Program management and governance also need to exercise a quality control activity in ensuring that project roles are filled with appropriately skilled individuals.  There needs to be clarity to which roles must be filled by internal resources and which roles require external expertise.

Consistent quality, compliance, and validation standards must be applied across the entire program to ensure a uniform approach, and the end-to-end process and underpinning capabilities have been designed and implemented to appropriate standards.

Business stabilization activity and time needs to be built into project plans.  Where this doesn’t happen, project teams members are often pulled to the next project in the program before the new capabilities are fully embedded.

Reward And Recognition

Finally, appropriate reward and recognition activity needs to be undertaken by the governance team to acknowledge interim successes through delivery of individual projects, and maintain enthusiasm and momentum for delivery of further parts of the program.

In the next article in this series, I will look at key learnings in the delivery of change programs and how they apply to artwork improvement programs