Gartner Research

How to Avoid Seven Program Management 'Bear Traps'

Published: 10 April 2015

ID: G00274883

Analyst(s): Michael Hanford


Good program management is both art and science. Failure rates for major projects are high, and despite expensive capital write-offs and unmet needs, too many organizations repeat the same bad behaviors over and over. Use this list to avoid repeating "dumb" program disablers.

Table Of Contents
  • Key Challenges



  • Limit the Core Decision-Making Group to No More Than Seven
    • Case Study: Too Many Captains Steering the Boat
    • Recommendations
  • Define a Program Manager Profile With Both General Qualifications and Those Specific to the Program the Person Will Manage
    • Case Study: Everyman as Program Manager
    • Recommendations
  • Conduct Periodic Reviews of the Program Direction, Expectations and Linkage to the Organizational Goals and Strategy
    • Case Study: Expectations That Freeze in Place
    • Recommendations
  • Face Facts When Your Prince Turns Into a Frog, and Don't Throw Good Money After Bad
    • Case Study: Your Service Provider "Prince" Is Really a Frog
    • Recommendations
  • Draft an Approach to the Program and Carry Out Short-Cycle Validation Iterations to Collect Feedback and Improve the Approach
    • Case Study: The Plan Can't Be Wrong
    • Recommendations
  • Require Sponsors to Acknowledge Approved Change Impact With: "I Understand and Accept That the Change Impact Is X , and Possible Consequence Is Y "
    • Case Study: Is Change a Pebble or a Boulder?
    • Recommendations
  • Iteratively, Require Executive "Go/No Go" Decisions Around Program Value
    • Case Study: Confusing "Value" for "Health"
    • Recommendations

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