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Key Success Factors in Program Management Governance (#2 in the series Structure of Program Management Governance)
By Robert Prieto

This is the second part of a five part series looking at the governance structure that should be applied in the use of a program management delivery form. This part reviews key success factors in effective program management governance.

Key Success Factors

A review of identifiable key success factors from a broad range on non-E&C programs internationally suggest that certain characteristics are common to successful program management applications. These success factors include several with governance implications including:

  1. Strong and decisive leadership by senior management
    • Supported by clear and appropriate allocation of responsibility and authority without ambiguity
  2. Early, consistent and direct involvement of frontline staff
    • With appropriate feedback mechanisms to encourage, collect and analyze criticism without fear of retribution
  3. Engagement and ongoing involvement by each stakeholder population both within the owner’s organization as well as externally
    • Communication chokepoints are avoided even while control points are strengthened
  4. Acceptance and projected confidence in the implementation of new strategies and solutions at early program stage
    • Leadership by example and strong “sponsorship” by the executive are essential to programmatic success
    • Areas of concern or uncertainty are monitored consciously but self doubt is reserved until support by information based decision making
  5. Utilization of experienced, neutral, external, facilitators to drive organizational change management and alignment processes; identify latent conflicts for resolution; and facilitate building of the required multidisciplinary team focused on undertaking the program management “journey”
    • Team building and alignment processes must be contractual requirements of both the owner and the program manager
  6. Clear recognition that many parts of the project delivery system need to be restructured simultaneously for effective program delivery
    • Governance structure must provide the program manager with the ability to act in parallel versus sequentially within an accelerated change time horizon
  7. Collective determination of key performance indicators and their application
    • Owner organization must transition to an outcomes based management style versus more traditional input control management styles
  8. Comprehensive data analysis by experienced staff with a programmatic and systemic focus; and, timely reporting of KPIs
    • Performance assessment regimes require owner oversight staff to adopt new perspectives that are broader than project based performance assessment; new skill sets and training must be implemented at an early stage
  9. Recognition and reward for success emphasized over penalty for failure
    • Governance regimes must increasingly adopt a reinforcing versus punitive framework
  10. Appropriate resourcing of program management role with sufficient flexibility to migrate the organization structure and skills mix as the program evolves
    • Program managements need for a more robust structure and control is understood in light of the larger impact their failure can have

Robert Prieto, Senior Vice President

Robert Prieto is senior vice president for Fluor, where he leads strategy for Fluor’s Industrial and Infrastructure group. Mr. Prieto focuses on the development and delivery of large, complex projects worldwide.

Prior to joining Fluor, Bob served as chairman of Parsons Brinckerhoff Inc. As head of PB’s board of directors, he was responsible for overseeing management performance, establishing top-level policies, and ensuring the firm’s continued long term success.

He is a member of the executive committee of the National Center for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a member of the board of directors of the Business Council on International Understanding, a member of the board of the Civil Engineering Forum for Innovation, and co-founder and member of the board of the Disaster Resource Network. He currently serves on the National Research Council’s committee framing the challenges on Critical Infrastructure Systems. Until 2006 he served as one of three U.S. presidential appointees to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and served as chairman of the Engineering and Construction Governors of The World Economic Forum and co-chair of the infrastructure task force formed after September 11th by the New York City Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the board of trustees of Polytechnic University of New York, and was previously selected as alumni of the year by its New York Chapter.

He has had an executive sponsorship role in the World Trade Center Transportation Hub; West Coast Rail Modernization; Train Protection and Warning System; Level 3 Communications Long Haul Network and Superconducting Super Collider.

Prieto holds a master of science in nuclear engineering from Polytechnic University of New York and a bachelor of science in nuclear engineering from New York University.

Fluor Corporation (NYSE: FLR) provides services on a global basis in the fields of engineering, procurement, construction, operations, maintenance and project management. Headquartered in Irving, Texas, Fluor is a FORTUNE 500 company with revenues of $14.1 billion in 2006. For more information, visit

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