May 2014 Newsletter

Introduction to Programme Management SIG (ProgM)

Following ProgM SIG’s AGM (April 2013) the committee set out its ambitious plan to deliver against our mission statement of ‘promoting the science and discipline of programme management and creating a professional forum whereby members can share and exchange information & knowledge.’

We agreed to organise “a compelling mix of ‘edutaining’ events across the length and breadth of the land; with a clear emphasis on supporting members in local branches and chapters - even if they do happen to be in Hong Kong!” These were to be physical, virtual and hybrid events that were inclusive in nature and genuine opportunities for learning, networking and professional development.

We said we would “work closely with complementary SIGs and Branches to support APM’s Five Dimensions of Professionalism. As a SIG we will improve the way we capture and share knowledge, support development and recognise achievements all the while signposting the project and programme management, and wider community to our prize assets – people and knowledge.”

And we wanted to “hear all about the successes and failures of others in programme management, asserting that we could no longer afford to keep making the same old ‘school-boy errors’. Sharing knowledge and experience was how we intended learn!”

So how have we done in the last year … cue this newsletter!

Peeling back the covers on government programmes, Richard Bacon: 18th June 2014

Richard Bacon, MP co-author of a ‘must read’ book for anyone involved in, or affected by, [pretty much every UK citizen] government programmes entitled ‘Conundrum: Why every government gets things wrong – and what we can do about it.’

APM has a stated ambition to “create a world in which all projects succeed by 2020" – including all government ones! We hear a great deal about project failure but here is a man whose experience, dogged questioning and forensic analysis make him a formidable member of the Public Accounts Committee.

Richard really is in a unique position of being able to provide both a diagnosis and some recommended treatment for the project patient who is suffering with a chronic condition!

Meanwhile, top blogger Jim Dale has fuelled the discussion with an appreciation of Richard’s book and key messages entitled ‘Learning from the misfortune of others’  

An example of Richard in action can be seen here.

In short, early booking for Peeling back the covers on government programmes is strongly recommended.

Delivering More 4 Less: 26 November 2013 [Jim Dale]

ProgM’s “Delivering more for less” annual conference in central Birmingham was undoubtedly the highlight of the year for ProgM SIG. Fourteen speakers covering a range of sectors shared their experiences of using programme management to deliver transformational change in an era of austerity.

To ensure a truly interactive experience delegates were encouraged to use social media to communicate with the speakers, which included electronic voting, registering comments and asking questions.

It would be impossible to single out any individual speaker for special praise as all were excellent in different ways. What was clear, however, is that austerity acts as driver for transformational change.


Salami slicing, the traditional approach to saving money, no longer cuts the mustard and balancing the books demands radical thinking and re-engineering services. For the brave austerity equates to opportunity.

Programme management lies at the heart of change. There has never been a greater need for professional and effective programme and change management.

Reaching out using webinars [Merv Wyeth]

ProgM organised a total of four webinars during the last year as follows. These proved to be highly interactive events, with between 150 and 200 delegates on each on occasion with a mix of polls, Q & A (real-time and post-event) & Twitter traffic. Despite the occasional technical glitch the team remained professional and learned a lot from the experience.

The series kicked off with a joint event with WiPM SIG Understanding culture to achieve Project Success : Jane Sparrow (July 2013)

Arabian Nights – Turning a project team around in the desert : Nick Fewings (August 2013) Nick’s presentation virtually went viral in the scheme of things, partly down to the innovative use of the embedded Twitter ‘Camel, share me’ buttons and a record nineteen responses were appended to the article published subsequently.

Using research to improve the delivery and effectiveness of change programmes : James Dale: Rod Willis: Martin Taylor Doubled as a Conference trailer with twenty documented Questions and answers.

The series culminated with Is programme management delivering on its promise: ten years on? a trip down memory lane for John Chapman, Adrian Pyne, Geof Leigh and Geoff Reiss the four of the original authors of the Gower Handbook of Programme Management.

A tribute was paid to the memory of Paul Rayner for his sterling work in founding ProgM SIG. It also served to announce a practitioner-led refresh of th Gower handbook.

Anyone interested in contributing to the refresh of the Gower Handbook of Programme Management should make contact with Merv Wyeth via the ProgM web site or LinkedIn.

Blogging matters [Ed Wallington]

As part of our mission to provide a forum for effective learning and development, ProgM contributes blog posts to the APM Blog, with the intention of submitting a post at least once a month. To date in 2014 ProgM have already contributed five blogs:

We are using social media to help make the blogs accessible and appealing. For example, we are embedding YouTube videos and Slideshare presentations in APM channels, as well as making it easy to share with colleagues via Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Our intention is to discuss topics of interest to the programme management community to initiate conversation. We welcome comments from the wider membership on our published posts - once you have logged in to the APM website you can have your say. We are listening and learning all the time.

Taking social media further [John Chapman]

In the professional world, knowledge and experience are bought and sold for example the preparation and sharing of our electronic curriculum vitae.

When we publish our profile on LinkedIn we need the same care and attention, whether it is University education, recommendations from peers, publications, professional qualifications, or hobbies; they all tell a story about who we are and what we do. Yet, so often this is simply a copy of our CV!

Social media can be far more powerful and we need to embrace this. To do so requires us new set of skills. For example, instead of a plain text description, we can upload a video ‘intro’ on LinkedIn. The technology is readily available, laptop computer with movie making software installed, web cam, Microphone, quiet room and off we go.

The technology is the easy bit!

Have you ever tried to talk without hesitation or deviation for one minute into a camera? Are you eloquent and does it make sense? Do you speak clearly or have problems with enunciation? Is your appearance and posture right? In short, do you look the part?

For an example here’s my one minute video intro – what do you think?

In my presentation to the APM Hong Kong Branch (June 2013) I provide a short quality assurance checklist (see slides 17, 18 and 19) on what to consider.

Social media provides the project management professional with a tremendous opportunity to demonstrate who we are in a way that was not previously possible. See for example: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, Erik Qualman, Socialnomics 2014. In ProgM we are actively exploring way to embrace this opportunity.

Working with others [Neil White]

Working across several APM Specific Interest Groups (SIGs), namely ProgM, Benefits and Enabling Change, I have been fortunate to gain exposure to scenarios where all three have a simultaneous stake.

During a presentation I gave on benefits management and organisational change on behalf of the Benefits SIG to the Open University at Milton Keynes, HQ, in February, I learned that virtually all their P3M3 capabilities were embryonic and merited a closer relationship with a number of the APM SIGs.

In November 2013, I provided support to ProgM’s APM More for Less conference event in Birmingham (see reflections on the conference). I was able to see for myself the extent to which change programmes are being run to gain efficiencies and make savings across the public sector including local government, the MOD, a number of police forces and the health service.

It is clear to me that there are many areas of commonality between the fourteen SIGs in the wider APM community that are ‘crying out’ to be exploited - we just need to do it!

Thinking systemically [Andrew Gray]

One of my key areas of activity this year has been on the joint APM / INCOSE UK working group on project (programme) management and systems engineering.

Systems thinking has been described as a way of thinking about a complex problem, a way of delivering transformation / enduring change and a way of bringing together disparate disciplines.

This can also be said to be a summary of programme management values. But how much overlap and fusion is there? This question was posed in a blog entitled Systems thinking a modern Janus and a briefing given during the ProgM SIG Conference in November.

The use of systems thinking was also included in a programme management case study on submarine dismantling, the subject of an evening presentation made by John Davis of the MoD to the SWWE branch.

This case study is also the basis of an upcoming presentation by my colleague Chris Mills at the PMO SIG Conference (on 15th May) on the role of the PMO and its support to benefits management.

However enticing the prospect of an underlying fusion, it is recommended that we also take heed of the advice of the great Lu-Tze (from Terry Pratchett’s Raising Steam) - “Uncertainty is always uncertain, but the difficulty with people who rely on systems is that they begin to believe that nearly everything is in some way a system and therefore, sooner or later, they become bureaucrats.”

Remember that one approach still does not fit all!


It can be seen that ProgM continues to deliver on its promise and is involved in many activities that support its mission of “promoting the science and discipline of programme management and creating a professional forum whereby members can share and exchange information & knowledge.”

As I sign off this first newsletter one additional event, besides the aforementioned must-see Richard Bacon, MP Peeling back the cover event on 18th June, that provides invaluable and unrivalled opportunities for personal development is eva19 turns to the new ABC are worthy of your attention if you can possibly make it. The organisers of eva19 are offering a £50 discount for new bookings to recipients of this newsletter - enter ST.PAUL during the online booking process to receive £50 off.

ProgM committee next meets for its AGM on 29th May for a sit-rep and stock-take of our plans. Meanwhile, if you do wish to get in touch you know how, and where, to find us.



Association for Project Management
Ibis House, Summerleys Road
Princes Risborough
Bucks, HP27 9LE

t: 0845 458 1944
f: 0845 458 8807