Program Management from a Product Management Lens

Mostafa Hanafi - Program Manager

1 Mar 2021

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Program Managers and Product Managers have two very distinct roles, and each role brings a lot of value to the organization. Program Management (which is the management of multiple projects) involves the planning and execution of a set of pre-defined requirements in a pre-defined timeline. On the other hand, Product Management involves setting and driving a strategic vision and roadmap for product development, where requirements evolve over time.

So, why should Program Managers adopt a Product Management mindset?

What benefit does Product Management bring to the table?

The Digital space is ever-changing due to many factors - changes in users' behaviors, new technologies, increased competition, pandemics, etc - where traditional Program Management is not going to effective anymore. Therefore, I will highlight three extremely valuable concepts from Product Management that every Program Manager should start adopting.

1. Vision

Product Management is at the center of Business Strategy, UX Design and Technology, and this is where product vision is defined. Digital Program Managers typically work with digital transformation programs where those 3 elements (Strategy, UX, Tech) must come together in one shape or form.

So, whether the program team includes a Product Manager or not, the Program Manager should (at least) ensure that Business/Marketing, UX, and Technology teams collaborate closely to define the "program" vision. The program vision would then drive the planning the execution of the program's activities, to guarantee the correct Business and User needs are being met.

2. Roadmap

In a Program Manager's world, the roadmap is the program plan, but there is an extra ingredient that successful product roadmaps bring to the table: Flexibility. Product management deals with continuous changes and challenges, and by default, product roadmaps must be flexible to deal with such changes.

Program Managers should build in a proper factor of flexibility in their plans and be on the look-out for changes and plan how to deal with them to keep the program on track. This might range from a small deviation in one part of a project (for example due to a change in compliance legislation) all the way to a complete pivot in the program's direction.

3. Product Launch Strategy

This is one of the most important (and most difficult) deliverables for Product Managers. It involves many critical steps for product launches to be successful, however, two valuable action items should be on every Program Manager's list: define success metrics and gather feedback.

Without those steps, there is no way to assess the success of a program and learn from mistakes. In other words, projects should not end at the go-live date, however, they should live long enough to see the impacts they make on business and user goals.

Finally, a typical challenge that I face with managing Sitecore projects is the lack of communication between Marketing, UX and Tech teams, which often results in creating a final product that does not meet the organization's nor its users' needs. Therefore, I believe that borrowing the deliverables from Product Management and inviting all stakeholders to work collaboratively on producing them, will set programs on the path to success.

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Mostafa Hanafi

Mostafa is an experienced Project Manager and Scrum Master who has been managing Sitecore projects for more than 4 years. During his 8 years of experience in the field, Mostafa has also excelled as a Business Analyst and Product Manager, where he practices his passion for solving problems. In addition, Mostafa is also a two-time Sitecore MVP. As a Program Manager at Konabos, Mostafa will work with clients to ensure their business goals are achieved in the most efficient and cost-effective way.

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