Programme Management: Benefits

13 Dec 2021

It all starts with a crisis

Have you ever found yourself in the position of facing a forced change? How do you manage a complex project with tight deadlines at short notice? Well, our client needed to select a new TPA within a limited time, which was beyond their control. They not only had to complete this change, but manage a large data and pension over/ underpayments rectification project at the same time and across both incumbent and successor TPAs.

To help tackle this challenge the Trustees appointed Muse Advisory as Programme Manager to act alongside the Company pensions team. Together we oversaw all activity involving two TPAs, a specialist data firm, lawyers, actuaries and communication specialists ensuring the programme met its objectives whilst maintaining the buy-in of all stakeholders through a complex set of issues.

What does a good Programme Manager look like?

There are a number of popular project management methodologies, such as Prince 2. However, effective programme management requires skills beyond core project management techniques.

To start with, a Programme Manager needs to be pragmatic, able to apply common sense to a situation or a problem. They should be a facilitator; relationship manager; a negotiator; an effective communicator, a leader. The list could go on: knowledgeable, able to leverage relationships, a unifier able to encourage and maintain buy-in to objectives from all parties, including a departing incumbent - not an easy task!

Why did this client need a Programme Manager?

Given the scope of this project - TPA selection, implementation, transition, data and pensioner rectification - it was critical that the programme manager was able to commit to the time demands and to be available at all times. The pensions department was already stretched by a multitude of challenges, so it was important to have dedicated independent support with the appropriate skill, knowledge and capacity.

So, how did it turn out?

Through engendering effective relationships and securing commitment from all parties whilst keeping a focus on client objectives, programme goals and risks, the Programme Manager provided the necessary leadership to make certain all parties collaborated effectively in managing all workstreams and ensuring that both Trustee and Company objectives were successfully met.

The Programme Manager encouraged an open and honest dialogue between all parties and was accessible to all involved. She and her team proactively drove progress, anticipated issues and facilitated remedies.

Effective Programme Management is crucial in bringing together the strands of a complex project and those involved to deliver successful outcomes.

Key learnings

  • The programme manager needs to work very closely with the client team; openness, prompt communication, addressing issues as they arise and attention to detail are all key characteristics.
  • Programme Management is not about adhering to a specific methodology, but applying it practically and with common sense.
  • The demands on in-house pension resource often limit capacity to manage large change programmes at short notice.