Programmification of work

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Developed by Charles Thillemann Hemmingsen



This article will present an introduction to the term programmification and explain where and how it deviates from projectification. The term programmification is devised "... the establishment of programmes and portfolios of programmes as a mechanism for managing in organisations." [1]. When an organisation moves from functional management to project management, it is called projectification. [2]. An organisation can have multiple projects running at the same time, and/or in a sequence, the organisation would at some point realize the need for additional management of these projects and introduce programs and portfolios of programs. This is programmification. Programmification introduces a variety of beneficial managerial tools different from project management tools, however implications from introducing programs are to be considered and these aspects of programmification will be explained in this article.


The following section presents the origin and difinition of the term programmification and how it is described in the standards of the managerial subject. The term programmification does not have a thorough definition backed by the standards. Maylor, H. et. al [1] has given effort into defining the term, and has probably succeeded in giving the term meaning, and purpose. As goes for purpose, a reason for using standards is having a common understanding for processes and vocabulary, and without purpose a definition is redundant, but since the term has acquired purpose the standards should include the term. However, the process of implementing programs and portfolios is not part of the standard and organisations would have different approaches to how they design their organisational structure in order to be capable of running programs. Programmification of the organisation could be a program, if the organisation moves from functional to a project structure. If research could find a way to standardise "... the establishment of programmes and portfolios of programmes as a mechanism for managing in organisations." [1], the standards could be changed to include this process.

Project managers has since 1996 had a standard, provided by the Project Management Institute (PMI®), describing how to do single projects. In 2003 a team was formed to produce the Program and Portfolio Management Standard (PPMS).[3] As indicated by the timeline, not many years went by before it was realised that all these projects needed to be governed or managed. The final draft was completed in December of 2005.


The following section presents the term programmification from two angles, and tries to inform the reader of why programmification is of interest and how it impacts an organisation.

The term programmification conceptualises what it means to introduce programs into organisations.



As to why an organisation should implement programs, the PMI® standard states "... to improve their abilities to deliver benefits." [4]. The benefits are realised through increased ability to pursue strategic goals when management of projects is centralised and optimised, thus creating business value.


Introducing programs and not just projects has multiple implications on more than one level of the organisation. Considerations are to be taken as to the amount of business value program management provides. Maylor, H. et. al (2006) [1] presents multiple implications to programmification and compares these to the implications of projectification. The table below is a summary of the presented implications.

Issue Implication of projectification Implication of programmification
Unit of analysis Individual projects Multiple projects, programmes and portfolios of programmes, alongside ‘business as usual’ work
1. Structure Increasing use of project structures Application of semi-permanent structures
2. Governance Move of power away from line managers to project managers /directors Move of power to those controlling the programmes or portfolios of programmes
3. Relative status between different functions, and the erosion of functional demarcation Projects granted official status and legitimacy by the organisation; functional demarcations eroded; in heavier-weight project organisations, project managers have direct authority over resources Functions less of an issue than relative status between projects and programmes
4. Communication Predominant mode in project team will shift from vertical to horizontal, between people at lower levels in the organisation Horizontal (within the team and between projects) and vertical (reporting to programme control)
5. Level of enterprise Expected to be enhanced by reduced bureaucracy and functional controls, but managed through process controls; 'controllability and adventure' Expected to be enhanced by mature processes
6. Importance of project processes/methodologies Importance increased - often codified in bodies of knowledge and represented in artefacts (e.g. project manuals, standardised process models) Established processes, possibly accompanied by reduced standardisation
7. Process of learning Intended to move from little learning due to dispersed knowledge, to single loop Across projects, potential for double loop learning
8. The output or outcome – the level of benefits Level of benefits needs to be assessed for each project. Level of benefits expected to rise following projectification Delivery of a package of benefits; 'value creation'
9. Career management and permanent structures; professionalisation Project managers will develop a permanent 'functional' home - the project office; they will gain legitimacy by professionalizing their role Hierarchy (project - programme manager - director) emergence evident in contrast to flat organisational structures in use elsewhere
10. Supply networks and buyer–supplier relationships Cheapest supplier to best partner in the project Uncertain the effect - area for further research
11. The number of projects that are/can be managed The number of projects and the relative proportion of organisational resources that they consume, will increase. Managed, potentially reducing
12. Competencies required Planning, resourcing and executing projects Managing across projects and programmes
Table 3, Maylor, H. et. al (2006) [1]

The implications described above illuminates the possibilities or expected outcome from managing related projects as programs. Maylor, H. et. al (2006) [1] provides a lot of questions to both projectification and programmification. An issue could be the lack of references to the program management standard, however as the article were written in 2006 knowledge about the standard could be sparse.


Implementing programs into organisations can both happen for functional and project structured organisations. An organisation can restructure from a functional structure into a project structure already knowing that it would need the program level management. And a project structure organisation could realise the beneficial potential coming from managing the projects as programs and/or portfolios. Following the standard on the choices of how to manage programs, an organisation has the possibility to make organisational changes e.g. introducing a program management office. One possibility is also to appoint a single program manager, this program manage would then act as the whole program management office.[4]

Program performance domains

Programs has five performance domains [4]:

  • Program Strategy Alignment - Performance domain that identifies program outputs and outcomes to provide benefits aligned with the organization’s goals and objectives.
  • Program Benefits Management - Performance domain that defines, creates, maximizes, and delivers the benefits provided by the program.
  • Program Stakeholder Engagement - Performance domain that identifies and analyzes stakeholder needs and manages expectations and communications to foster stakeholder support.
  • Program Governance - Performance domain that enables and performs program decision making, establishes practices to support the program, and maintains program oversight.
  • Program Life Cycle Management - Performance domain that manages program activities required to facilitate effective program definition, program delivery, and program closure.

Doing programs is doing activities inside these five performance domains. The standard describes that "These domains run concurrently throughout the duration of the program".[4].

Program phases

Programs are also divided into phases [4]:

  • Program Definition Phase - Establishes and confirms the business case for the program and then develops the detailed plan for its delivery. This phase is divided into two parts: program formulation and program planning.
  • Program Delivery Phase - Activities include program activities required for coordinating and managing the actual delivery of programs. These include activities around change control, reporting, and information distribution as well as activities around cost, procurement, quality, and risk.
  • Program Closure Phase - Activities begin when the program components have delivered all their outputs and the program has begun to deliver its intended benefits. In some cases, program governance may decide to bring a program to an early close before all components have been completed. In either case, the goal of the program activities during this phase is to release the program resources and support the transition of any remaining program outputs and assets, including its documents and databases, to ongoing organizational activities.

Program maturity

In order for an organisation to assess if programmification is achieved, a parallel could be drown to the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPMMM or OPM3®), which is used as a framework to assess the level of project management maturity in an organisation, and then providing guidance as to how the organisation progresses to a higher maturity level. [5]. The guide is also of interest to program managers.


  • As programmification is more of a descriptive term and not a term covered by any standards, the knowledge of the term is sparse, the article focuses on giving the reader an elaboration of how the term come to be and what it implies.
  • The term lacks mentioning in the litterature, but litterature covers the term in a broader term without directly using the term.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Maylor, H., Brady, T., Cooke-Davies, T., & Hodgson, D. (2006). From projectification to programmification. International Journal of Project Management, 24(8), 663–674.
  2. Midler, C. (1995). “Projectification” of the firm: The renault case. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 11(4), 363–375.
  3. Ross, D. W. & Shaltry, P. E. (2006). The new PMI standard for program management. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2006—North America, Seattle, WA. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 The Standard for Program Management – Fourth Edition (2017)
  5. Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3®) – Third Edition (2013).

Suggested reading

  • The Role of Program Management in an Organisational Change, Fall 2014 [1]
  • Introducing projects in a functional organization, Fall 2014 [2]
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