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Organisation in programmes provides top management focus

10-03-2014 Column

An increasing number of Danish authorities organise their projects in programmes, which contributes to enhanced risk management. When addressed in the right way, this can lead to better management of often complex projects, increase the capacity to handle many stakeholders, and contribute to ensuring that the entire organisation focuses on the same strategic goals.

Earlier this year, the Danish Agency for Digitisation launched a cross-governmental programme model. In this connection, our March Newsletter takes a look at Banedanmark (Rail Net Denmark) and pays a visit to London, where a cross-governmental project unit has good experience with  a common approach to programme management. It is also from the UK that we have taken inspiration for our own programme model, based on MSP (Managing Successful Programmes), which the British have several years’ experience in using. 

Difficult to drive programmes

It requires attention from the top management to drive strategic change through ICT, and organising projects in programmes contributes to maintain the management’s focus. In my own organisation, we have two programmes at the moment: digital communication and basic data. We continually consider how to become better at pooling and prioritising projects in general. It is difficult to drive programmes. It requires a high degree of maturity in the organisation, and the necessary premises for management must have been clarified. 

Programme thinking is not only a matter of ICT. We would never have made so much progress in terms of implementing our target of 80 pct. digital communication (80 pct. of all written communication between citizens and public authorities should be digital only by 2015) if we had not established a programme containing legislation, development, implementation, and communication. The drawing up of e.g. common risk assessments of the programme has provided me as Director-General with some very specific indicators as to how we must prioritise the organisation’s resources and my attention. And our stakeholders have gained a more coherent experience of the huge digitisation transformation. 

One of the important lessons learned from the UK is that even the experienced manager should, as a member of the steering committee, receive the necessary competence development training in order to drive a programme professionally. During the forthcoming months, my management group and I will join such a course so as to ensure that we all acquire some of the tools that are necessary in order to take public digitisation of tomorrow even further into the future!

Lars Frelle-Petersen