Programme interdependencies. Domino theory!


Yesterday, I wrote about how interdependencies between projects create complexities for the management of the both projects and programmes. It’s inevitable that interdependencies across projects and programmes will have some level of knock on impact irrespective of how careful one manages them. Picture those dominoes fall!

Managing interdependencies for a project can be relatively straightforward. But when it comes to programmes, the situation can take the interdependency complexity to another level.

With so many elements ‘shared’ between projects, interdependencies can become be intricately spread across every project, with elaborate relationships that all too often send dependencies into obscurity (forgotten until its too late).

For example, I was involved in a two-year long, $100+m business transformation programme for a financial services firm, with three key streams of work across the entire business. I was a programme manager in the technology-enablement stream that had over sixty business change and IT projects, and thanks to the multiple third-party suppliers (involved in the outsourcing elements) it encompassed internal and external organisations.

As an average each project had more than thirty dependencies on other projects (or third-party suppliers). Multiply this across the sixty project and it equated to approximately two-thousand interdependencies. Yes, 2,000. Imagine how much effort that took to manage.

These interdependencies covered many of those I touched on yesterday, plus several more.

What was interesting, was that the projects shared an overall programme budget (so if one project had a cost overrun, then the other projects would suffer as the programme may have to trim cost from these). Another interdependency.

Not only where there dependencies between projects within the programme, but there were numerous ‘shared’ elements and deliverables between one programme and the other two programme. This made for one highly complex environment to operate in.

At a programme level there was incredible effort made to ensure that every interdependency was actively managed. This involved proactive identification and resolution of project interdependencies. This was a difficult task. The objective of which was to capture all interdependencies plus have procedures and processes in place to ensure effective management. Obviously during the life-cycle gaps where identified and these were remediated immediately.

After all interdependencies are potential weak points in the programme; the full set of projects within the programme is tied to the one project with the greatest risk (all too often with the weakest dependencies). One fails and they all fail. Similar to domino theory!

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One response to “Programme interdependencies. Domino theory!

  1. Pingback: Does proactive resolution of interdependencies expedite programme success? | PPMpractitioner·

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