Practical considerations for effective program management

By AIA Contract Documents

April 30, 2024

An owner may hire a program manager for use on a single project or in a program with more than one project to assist the owner in an advisory capacity during design and construction. In order to be effective, a program manager’s basic services should include creating a program management plan to describe the scope of the program and related requirements; managing program-related information across the multiple projects in the program; developing a program-wide budget and schedule; and establishing quality control guidelines. This article breaks each of these basic services down with practical considerations for effective program management.

Program Management Plan

In the very beginning, a program manager consults with the owner in order to ascertain the requirements of the associated program. After consulting with the owner, the program manager develops a program management plan that should break down management approach, planning, management controls, procurement strategies, administrative authorization processes, communication procedures, and guidelines associated with design, construction, and final project acceptance.

Information Management and Reporting

An effective program manager fosters open communication and collaboration among project team members, subcontractors, suppliers, and stakeholders through the use of technology platforms and tools to facilitate communication and document sharing.

Budget Development and Control

If a budget has not be developed, a program manager will coordinate with the owner to prepare a detailed budget that accounts for project design and construction expenses, including design fees, materials, labor, equipment, overhead costs, and reasonable contingencies. After preparing the budget, the program manager develops and implements a system of budget and cost controls to assist the owner in the management of program and project costs.

Schedule Development and Management

Effective program managers also know how to develop a program schedule showing priorities, sequences, realistic durations, and responsible parties for major design, pricing, construction, and owner-related activities. The schedule should include consideration for resource constraints and potential delays. After the schedule is developed, a program manager will monitor progress against the schedule and consult with the owner and owner’s consultants and contractors, as needed, to develop recovery plans when the schedules or objectives are not being met.

Quality Control and Review

Program managers will establish quality control guidelines that define the obligations of the program manager, owner, and the owner’s consultants and contractors. After establishing guidelines, program managers should review the development of design for each project for conformance with program requirements, and the project-specific quality control plan of each contractor in the program for conformance with quality control guidelines.

By addressing these practical considerations, program managers can enhance project efficiency, minimize risks, and deliver high-quality results that meet the needs of the owner and other program stakeholders.

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AIA Contract Documents has provided this article for general informational purposes only. The information provided is not legal opinion or legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship of any kind. This article is also not intended to provide guidance as to how project parties should interpret their specific contracts or resolve contract disputes, as those decisions will need to be made in consultation with legal counsel, insurance counsel, and other professionals, and based upon a multitude of factors.