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The City of San Luis Obispo (City) owns and operates the Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) located on Prado Road in San Luis Obispo, California. This facility currently treats an average of approximately 3.89 mgd annually. This city is beginning a program to upgrade the WRRF to update the treatment process to meet City’s new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, thereby replacing the aged equipment and creating valued community asset. The City is engaged by the Program Management Team led by the Water Systems Consulting, Inc to manage the WRRF project. And a Core Management Team which is comprised of senior management representatives from the City. According to the (Project Management Institute, 2013) Program management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools and other techniques created so that it meets the requirements and to obtain the benefits and the control which is not available by managing projects individually. “It involves aligning multiple components to achieve the program goals and allows for optimized or integrated cost, schedule, and effort”.
According to the (Project Management Institute, 2013) The strategic alignment is one of the main aspects of the program, and the successful completion of the program depends on it. A program can only be considered entirely effective if it has a well-defined vision, mission, set of goals and objectives, environmental assessments. One of the main positives of the WRRF is the is the quality and how clearly the strategies of the programs are aligned altogether. They include distinct features which are specifically designed for the objective and performance measures which outline, economic, environmental, social factors. These three factors defined by the WRRF has a huge role to play in the outcome of the program and these categories reflect the commitment of the City in achieving triple bottom line benefits. The City also has a set of guideline principles defined that need to be followed by the whole staff who is a part of this. As stated by (Janellis,2017) one of the significant challenges faced by the organization is the financial and opportunity cost of the investments in the programs, when a program strategy is not aligned. A program strategic alignment review ensures that all the benefits and outcomes agreed by the executives and the key sponsors are met. This saves substantial amounts of investment in program re-work and helps the organization to realize their Return on Investment (ROI). This is further supported by Avison.D, Jones.J, Powell.P, & Wilson.D, (2004 pp.223-246), it clearly states that firms cannot be successful or be competitive within the market if their business and the strategic model aren’t aligned. Combined strategic planning through all levels of the selected firm and prioritization method by the executive steering committee is vital to the alignment process. The WRRF has an executive committee for the management of the program and they are assigned special roles and responsibilities, they are the Core Management Team and Program Management Team respectively. According to (Project Management Institute, 2013) an executive steering committee will issue a program mandate that defines a set of strategic objectives and benefits a particular program is expected to deliver. This program mandate confirms the commitment of organizational resources to determine whether a program is the most appropriate approach to achieve the objectives and triggers the initiation phase. (Wang, Kuang-Cheng, 2007) there is a proliferation of strategic planning tools to enable managers to formulate competitive strategies in line with the requirements of their overall business environments. These are more commonly used than any other management technique in the process of decision making. Abbasi, Nilofur & Wajid, Iqra & Iqbal, Zahra & Zafar, Fareeha,(2013,p.86) further supports the fact that SWOT analysis is an important aspect for the successful progress of the program. Categorizing the identified details in each of the four factors will help the business to be proactive and provide them with opportunities to tackle the problems. City’s program charter and other plan are being made from analyzing SWOT in good detail. So, they have learned about the things that are going to affect the program. Only if these analyses are properly conducted and researched that the company or organization will have an idea about the dangers they are going to face in the future.
According to (Project Management Institute, 2013), Program governance refers to the practices and process that are conducted sponsoring organization to ensure that whether the programs are managed effectively and consistently to the extent feasible. It is achieved through the actions of review and decision making a body that has the function of endorsing or approving recommendations made regarding the program under its authority. This is often referred to as a program governance body. The sponsor in the case of the WRRF program is the Utilities Department of the City of San Luis Obispo, has a governance body and guidelines but the state of the governance structure when compared the strategic definition of the company is actually not on the same wavelength. According to IBM( 2005 ) states that as the program progress they require a linkage mechanism that ensures alignment between business strategy and direction, and the paths to needed outcomes over the life of the program. Which can be defined simply as the mechanism that is able to sustain the program potential to deliver its promised level. Programs are dynamic, not static. They must respond to external events and changing conditions. Therefore, an effective governance structure and set of governance functions must provide the means to identify, assess and respond to internal and external events and changes by adjusting program components or features. A poor governance structure will leave the program in a continuous reactive state, constantly struggling to catch up with the changing conditions. This is true in the case of the City’s governance case, even though they have proper structure and strategies aligned but the problem is the lack of linkage between the governance body and the business strategy. The absence of connection will lead to poor decision making and review of the program strategic alignment. Efficiency can only be improved through effective use of the programs (Müller.R,2009). Catastrophic results of poor governance play out with the Queensland health payroll disaster ( afr, 2013) human issues can always get in the way of good decisions or failure to recognize bad ones quickly enough in a governance team. The payroll debacle came from unwanted urgency and lack of diligence on the part of the state officials. For good governance, the key is the quality of the decisions made and the quality of the decision makers, both go hand in hand. Queensland health payroll were affected by the human decision and the outcome they had to face was ridiculous. According to Thite, M.& Sandhu, K. (2014) the governance structure was conspicuous by its absence. This resulted in numerous changes throwing the budget and implementation schedule into chaos. The structure of the governance between the involved parties was not clear, causing confusion over their roles and responsibilities. In the case City’s WRRF program this can be avoided if they integrate the two governance body that the is one in the core management team and another one in the program management team, because the most effective way to improve the functions of program governance is single board of governance as stated by (Project Management Institute, 2013), single board of governance is the most efficient means for providing effective and agile governance oversight and control. Even this can lead to catastrophic results, if there was any lack of relationship between the business strategies of the organization and the related decisions and on time review by the governance body.
Stakeholder engagement is an important part of the program management to obtain useful feedback and identifying the program requirements. Engaging and keeping connected with stakeholders will make the program team communicate program benefits and connection with the company objectives to the stakeholders (Project Management Institute, 2013). It would also help in calculating and integrating risk perception of all stakeholders and initiation for the corrective action of that issues to increase the likelihood of the success of the program (Harclerode, M., Lal, P., Vedwan, N., Wolde, B., & Miller, M.,2016). In the Program Management Plan of Water Resource Recovery Facility Project of Utilities Department, City of San Luis Obispo has a stakeholder engagement plan under the section of communication in the plan. Here the plan has a good line of communication, which is divided into two Core management team and Program management team. WRRF program has a well-defined stakeholder register, as a part of their stakeholder identification which lists the stakeholders, their relationship to the program, roles responsibilities, and contact information. At the same time, the program is lacking from a stakeholder map in the stakeholder identification part. Stakeholder mapping is a form of stakeholder analysis to analyse several stakeholders to identify their needs expectations and influence towards the program (Mehrizi, M., Ghasemzadeh, F., & Molas-Gallart, J. ,2009). This would help identify the power and interest of each stakeholder and decide how often they should be engaged. According to the PMI, the Program Manager is the individual responsible for performing program activities and program management team were the individuals performing all the activities. In the WRRF communication plan shows the Program management team is the point of communication with all the departments (Environmental team, Design team, Construction manager, contractor). For communication, the WRRF program uses Procore communication tools. Procore is a construction management software which allows the stakeholders to view the status of the project, to view the status of open issues, to be informed about new ideas, see scheduled tasks, meetings, Emails, Request for information, submittals and more. According to (Procore, 2018) the WRRF program with large stakeholders, the issues and compound risks are tracked and prioritized by the procure communication tool. Because stakeholder issues and concerns are important factors in a program which has the potential to affect the scope, benefits, risks, costs, schedule, priorities, and outcomes of the program (Project Management Institute, 2013). On the other hand, over dependence of the program in the software may increase the complications in a simple program, may affect the execution by relying on automated alert and may cause technicality errors ( business2community,2013). It might also slow down the process of evaluation and updating of the present stakeholder engagement plan the of the company (Chinyamurindi, W. T, 2017). The WRRF program is not entitled to an Impact analysis technique, to understand the necessity and likelihood of stakeholder issues and to determine the program risk associated (Project Management Institute, 2013). In WRRF program communications are done through verbal and written methods. The table communication types and expectations in the program define all the engagement plan of the program and the frequency of the engagement. Taking, WRRF has a good stakeholder engagement program which includes and engages all the stakeholders.
In WRRF the major benefits are delivered after the completion of the project. The ultimate benefit of the program is updated treatment process to treat municipal wastewater flow, to meet city’s new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. This program covers replacing aged equipment, included illustrative features and public amenities to develop a valued social asset for the community. In the WRRF program, the benefits of the program are not properly defined. Program benefits management is an ongoing process in a program, from start to end. Best Program Benefits management practice requires continuous interaction with all the performance domains during the program. It includes interacting program strategy alignment with program stakeholder engagement, which provides inputs to the program planning activities (Project Management Institute, 2013). The elements like vision, mission, strategic goals, objectives, business case help to identify the benefits of the program. The WRRF program has a weak program governance line, thus makes difficult to evaluate the performance data and to track attainment of the program outcome. Program benefits can be assessed from the Key Performance Indicators (KPI) (Kaplan and Norton, 1996), as it is an important part to measure planned benefits in benefits identification. WRRF program does not define any other benefits identification program, i.e. tracking process to record the program process, KPI. There are no benefits register present in the program plan, which includes the sections list of planned benefits, mapping of the benefits, measuring of benefits, to track the benefits delivery of the program. Benefits transition is one major part of the program to be included, where it helps transfer the ongoing responsibility to another one. The WRRF program has a monthly and quarterly program performance reports to track analyze the level of benefits delivery of the program (Project Management Institute, 2013).
- The strategic plans of the City’s program were found clearly defined and with a proper structure, it is recommended to improve the same as the time goes to the program stay in its desired path so that they achieved the expected outcome.
- It is recommended that a single board of governance is the best way forward for the successful progress of the program. City’s governance board should be integrated as to create a single board so that the decision making and reviewing of the program work in tandem.
- Program strategic alignment panel should review the SWOT, overall data collected from the stakeholders involved, from previous programs of the related method. The review should be conducted as and when a change occurs, or any environmental factors that may or may not be affecting the program in the coming future. That is the review panel should be proactive rather than reactive.
- The executive steering committee should follow some of the failed programs as it will provide knowledge on to what to be avoided and what to be improved.
- The executive steering committee that currently defined by the City is of good decision makers, but the steering committee would be more punctual and proactive if they decide a common leader with experience and with organizational insights for the governance body and the steering committee.
- A separate panel can be designated so that they review whether the governance oversights and control are in align with the strategies put forward by the business to attain desired outputs. Only if there is a connection between the governance and the strategy the program will be successful.
- Develop Benefits Register, to measure and communicate the benefits of the program to the whole stakeholders throughout the program
- Set Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
- Develop Stakeholder map, to map between the available stakeholders.
From analyzing the program stakeholder engagement, benefits, program governance, strategic alignment of the Water Resource Recovery Facility (WRRF) program which is undertaken by the Utilities Department, City of San Luis Obispo. We came to know that Stakeholder engagement and strategic alignment of the City is in very much relatable to the definition of the project management institute. Whereas the program governance and the benefits management are not very efficient. A program will only be it’s most efficient if all these sections that are, stakeholder engagement, benefits, governance, and strategic alignment are in place and everything is reviewed, decided, and planned properly. The main positive of the WRRF program is the strategic alignment of the programs, which has an executive committee with a set vision and mission and further principle guidelines which will help the program in achieving the long-term goals. The same goes for the program stakeholder engagement, they have a distinct and clearly defined stakeholder register which explain what all roles and responsibilities that each of the stakeholders have to follow for the successful progress of the program. And they also use a pro-core, which is a program management tool which aligns each stakeholder into their effective categories. This is will help the program to have a hierarchy which is one of the most efficient ways of achieving a successful program management. But when we look into the governance and the benefits of this program there seems to be something lacking. While considering the program governance of the WRRF program. We found out that there seems to be some sort of connection which is missing between the business strategy, outcomes with the governance body. A program governance can be most effective if it is a single body governance, but in the case of the WRRF program, there are multiple governance bodies. These will result in conflicts and poor decision making. If the governing body is not properly reviewed or poor decisions are made this will be visible in the benefits or outcome’s the program is going to achieve. One of the most effective par for a program to be successful in their progress is the connection between all these program management domains. Which is the main missing part of this program? We found out that they have everything in place for the successful venture. It’s just that the WRRF program should integrate the governance body and make it into a single governance body and by appointing a leader who has the organizational insights and decision-making capacity. This will improve the reviewing and decision making of the top management. Thereby helping the program to be stable and to achieve the desired output the program was designed for.
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