Programme Management considerations

Programme Management considerations

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

  • some of the issues that need to be considered when setting up an artwork capability improvement programme
  • some of the change management aspects to consider to ensure the change is delivered in a sustainable way
  • and how to design and resource individual improvement projects to ensure effective delivery.

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

  • Firstly it is important to ensure that there is an effective cross functional Governance in place to govern the entire programme.  This should ensure that all impacted parts of the organisation are appropriately represented at an appropriate level of seniority, and have sufficient authority to make required decisions. The Governance also needs to make sure that there is effective interfaces to other functional or corporate senior governance teams as required.
  • In a prior article we discussed standard projected phases, and from a programme perspective it is essential that projects are organised 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 prioritisation process, ensuring constrained resources are targeted to the most appropriate activities and the overall programme can be tuned to the evolving business environment.  It is essential that all relevant parts of the organisation are represented in prioritisation decisions to ensure that such decisions consider all business perspectives and are bought into by each part of organisation.
  • Processes need to be in place to ensure effective escalation of risks and issues from individual projects to appropriate levels of the programme 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 minimise unnecessary waste and ensure consistency, programme management processes need to be applied uniformly across all projects and supporting documentation and reports should be standardised.
  • In most programmes, 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 by all relevant parties, and each project clearly understand which elements they are accountable for.  Furthermore, the sequence of implementation of individual projects in each organisational 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 programme manager and associated governance.
  • Critical resources (in terms of people, roles and skills/competencies) need to be monitored across the programme.  Project approval, through the prioritisation process, to proceed to the next gate needs to be cognisant of the availability of required resources to complete those aspects of work.
  • Programme 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 programme to ensure a uniform approach, and that the end-to-end process and underpinning capabilities have been designed and implemented to appropriate standards.
  • Business stabilisation 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 programme before the new capabilities are fully embedded.
  • 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 programme.

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

Comment ( 1 )

  • Julieann Thornton

    One huge area of concern is the control of the content and at what point does label development begin. Many have gone done the path of developing content and labeling concurrently. This approach results in longer development time, rework and often additional changes for language translations. It is imperative that content is approved and controlled prior to commencing the label development work. This can be a difficult process change to make as the initial reaction from your internal customers is that they believe it will take longer. However, the proof is in the pudding. Once the process change has been made, metrics can be shared that will clearly demonstrate the time and cost savings associated with this approach.

    Another huge area of contention is the label approval process. As many functional areas own a piece of the labeling pie, there is typically a long list of approvers required. Examine this list on a regular basis to determine if the signatories are ‘need-to-haves’ vs. ‘nice-to-haves’. Strip out the ‘nice-to-haves’ and replace with other forms of communication so they remain in the loop for their given needs.

    Review of content during the approval process can also be less then reliable. Due to the long list of approvers, you will find those that just give a cursory glance to the labeling assuming that all of the others on the list will provide the required content review. This is human nature and all efforts to force the proper review by all involved can be a fruitless effort in the long term. It’s simple – people are busy and humans make errors. This makes content control all the more critical. For package labels, the use of relational databases during label development is worth its weight in gold, (less data input, less potential for error.) For instructions and manuals, the use content management software is a lifesaver for both the primary language and any additional languages that need to be present. When you take into account the salaries and hours involved in addressing a label issue, aside from the external damages that can be incurred, the ROI on implementing software and systems is a very easy task and results in cost-effective and error-free labels.

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