Evolution of Owners Role under Program Management



By Bob Prieto

Jupiter, Florida, USA

Implementation of major capital facility programs requires Owner organizations to undergo change in several dimensions. Each of these dimensions involves a significant departure from the established management, operating, commercial and cultural patterns which have typically characterized the Owner’s capital delivery programs and processes.

Organizational Transformation must be achieved while the skills and capabilities of the current teams, their performance excellence, and accumulated lessons learned are retained and, in fact, a new larger, more diverse organization is built upon them to achieve the higher level of performance.

When considering this Organizational Transformation, two generic types of change must both be managed synergistically in order to affect the strategic change that is the goal in the decision to shift from a multi-project to program based delivery.

Tactical Change:

  • basic changes in the way the projects are organized and executed, including the move from project to programmatic focus
  • changes affecting all the execution activities which will be adjusted and/or implemented to accelerate the actual delivery of plant and production

Cultural Change:

  • those changes dealing with the people aspects of reorientation of teams to programmatic focus
  • the dramatic in the cultural impacts and interfaces which must be recognized and effectively addressed to ensure the harmony of vision, commitment, focus, and dedication that the program goals demand

Evolution of the Owner’s Role

In a programmatic approach to achievement of a set of business objectives, Owners may engage the services of a Program Manager. Under such an approach many of the processes and responsibilities of the traditional Owner organization are transferred to the Program Manager and the Owner’s organization takes on different or changed responsibilities. It is important for Owner organizations to recognize this shift in focus in order to avoid duplication of efforts between the Owner’s organization and the Program Manager but more importantly, to assure that the new areas of focus, purely within the purview of the Owner’s organization are adequately addressed.

The summary that follows looks at how the Owner’s focus changes from a more traditional delivery methodology to one employing a program management approach. The typical responsibilities of the Program Manager have been included for clarity.

The activities reflected represent many of the major activities and the list is not intended to be all encompassing. Similarly the actual allocation of responsibilities between Owner and Program Manager may vary from what is shown.

“C”- Level Executive Sponsorship

Traditional Owner Role

The “C”- Level Executive has direct management oversight of executives in charge of program delivery and oversight. Executive interaction will vary broadly based on styles and competencies of the Program Level Executive and the “C”- Level Executive

Owner Role Under Program Management

The “C”-Level Executive gains improved separation of delivery and oversight vectors enhancing the probability for earlier identification and resolution of issues. “C”-Level day-to-day interaction will likely be reduced in the execution area and quality of assessment of program progress strengthened…


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally published in PM World Today in April 2008.  It is republished here with the author’s permission.

How to cite this paper: How to cite this paper: Prieto, R. (2008). Evolution of Owners Role under Program Management, Second Edition, PM World Journal, Vol. X, Issue IV, April 2021.  Originally published in PM World Today, April 2008. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/pmwj104-Apr2021-Prieto-evolution-of-owners-role-under-program-management.pdf


About the Author

Bob Prieto

Chairman & CEO
Strategic Program Management LLC
Jupiter, Florida, USA


 Bob Prieto is a senior executive effective in shaping and executing business strategy and a recognized leader within the infrastructure, engineering and construction industries. Currently Bob heads his own management consulting practice, Strategic Program Management LLC. He previously served as a senior vice president of Fluor, one of the largest engineering and construction companies in the world. He focuses on the development and delivery of large, complex projects worldwide and consults with owners across all market sectors in the development of programmatic delivery strategies. He is author of nine books including “Strategic Program Management”, “The Giga Factor: Program Management in the Engineering and Construction Industry”, “Application of Life Cycle Analysis in the Capital Assets Industry”, “Capital Efficiency: Pull All the Levers” and, most recently, “Theory of Management of Large Complex Projects” published by the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) as well as over 750 other papers and presentations.

Bob is an Independent Member of the Shareholder Committee of Mott MacDonald. He is a member of the ASCE Industry Leaders Council, National Academy of Construction, a Fellow of the Construction Management Association of America, Millennium Challenge Corporation Advisory Board and member of several university departmental and campus advisory boards. Bob served until 2006 as a U.S. presidential appointee to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Advisory Council (ABAC), working with U.S. and Asia-Pacific business leaders to shape the framework for trade and economic growth. He had previously served as both 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. Previously, he served as Chairman at Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) and a non-executive director of Cardno (ASX)

Bob serves as an honorary global advisor for the PM World Journal and Library and can be contacted at rpstrategic@comcast.net.

To view other works by Bob Prieto, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/bob-prieto/