A program director is responsible for leading and managing the setting up of the program through to the delivery of the new capabilities and realisation of benefits. Managing a program is not simply a line management function overseeing the delivery of a number of projects. The program director role involves proactive interventions and decision-making to ensure that the program stays on track – particularly when the program path is not clear, or the program environment is in a state of flux. Successful delivery will depend on the effective management of issues, conflicts, priorities, communications and personnel. The program director will need the ability to work positively with the full range of individuals and groups involved in the program – particularly the senior responsible owner and any business change manager(s).
A program is made up of a number of individual projects. These benefits could not be achieved individually from these projects – synergy is created when they are managed as a Program.
The program director is responsible for providing leadership, management, coordination, and direction to teams delivering ICT Projects as part of a program. The program director will liaise closely with ICT project managers, clients and stakeholders to plan, prioritise and resource the program.
A program director exhibits a combination of capabilities in line with the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) and the Queensland Public Service Leadership competencies for Queensland Framework .
Within the SFIA profile, the program director has level 6 and 7 capabilities, i.e. sets strategy, initiates, influences, inspires and mobiles the skills outlined below.
Refer to the framework for descriptions of the seven levels of responsibility and accountability.
SFIA skill code
SFIA skill level of responsibility
SFIA skills level descriptor
Sets organisational strategy governing the direction and conduct of programme management, including application of appropriate methodologies. Plans, directs, and co-ordinates activities to manage and implement complex programmes from contract/ proposal initiation to full integration with “business as usual”. Aligns the programme objectives with business objectives and authorises the selection and planning of all related projects and activities. Plans, schedules, monitors, and reports on activities related to the programme, ensuring that there are appropriate and effective governance arrangements, supported by comprehensive reporting and communication.
Takes full responsibility for the definition, documentation and successful completion of complex projects (typically with significant business, political, or high-profile impact, and high-risk dependencies). Adopts and adapts project management methods and tools, selecting appropriately from plan-driven/predictive approaches or more adaptive (iterative and agile) approaches. Ensures that effective project control, change control, risk management and testing processes are maintained. Monitors and controls resources, revenue and capital costs against the project budget and manages expectations of all project stakeholders.
Leads the development of comprehensive stakeholder management strategies and plans. Builds long-term, strategic relationships with senior stakeholders (internal and external). Facilitates the engagement of stakeholders and delivery of services and change projects, acting as a single point of contact for senior stakeholders, facilitating relationships between them. Negotiates to ensure that stakeholders understand and agree what will meet their needs, and that appropriate agreements are defined. Oversees monitoring of relationships including lessons learned and appropriate feedback. Leads actions to improve relations and open communications with and between stakeholders.
Change implementation planning and management
Ensures that there is a business perspective on how any new technical capabilities will be integrated into the business, including planning around key business cycles, selecting appropriate customers for migration, etc. Initiates the business implementation plan, including all the activities that the business needs to do to prepare for new technical components and technologies. Ensures sites deliver site implementation plans that align with the overall plan. Tracks and reports against these activities to ensure progress. Defines and manages the activities to ensure achievement of the projected business benefits after delivery. Outlines key business engagement messages that need to be communicated throughout the programme/project.
Promotes the change programme vision to staff at all levels of the business operation, brings order to complex situations, and keeps a focus on business objectives. Works with operational managers to ensure maximum improvements are made in the business operations as groups of projects deliver their products into operational use. Maintains the business case for funding the programme and confirms continuing business viability of the programme at regular intervals.
Queensland Government roles align with the Leadership competencies for Queensland.
Leadership competencies for Queensland describes what highly effective, everyday leadership looks like in the sector. In simple, action-oriented language, it provides a common understanding of the foundations for success across all roles. The profile describes three performance dimensions (vision, results and accountability) and 11 leadership competencies required against five leadership streams.
Leadership streams are not connected to a level or classification, but rather reflect the balance between leadership and technical skills required of an individual. Individuals can consider the ‘value proposition’ of roles rather than the traditional lens of hierarchical structures or classification levels. The five leadership streams are:
- Individual contributor (Leads self and does not supervise others)
- Team leader (leads a team and typically reports to a program leader)
- Program leader (leads team leaders and/or multiple areas of work)
- Executive (leads program leaders or other executives)
- Chief executive (leads the organisation).
When developing a role description, identify the role type and then focus on the most important attributes and create a balance between SFIA skills and leadership skills.
While a formal tertiary qualification is considered highly advantageous to work as a program director, it is not essential. Significant experience working within project teams and managing programs is essential and experience within the area of ICT is highly regarded. Very strong communication and negotiation skills are essential, as is a thorough understanding of organisational strategic objectives and goals. Skills in team leadership and risk management are essential for a program director.
Undergraduate courses in information technology or business and certification and accreditation courses in project and program management are well regarded.
Learning and development
There are a number of ways to develop and improve program management skills. Formal training and on-the-job experience are important ways to improve and develop the required skills.
Skills in program management can be gained by attending courses in program management.
 The Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA) provides a common language that integrates with an organisation’s way of working, to improve capability and resource planning, resource deployment and performance management. This role profile quotes extensively from the SFIA, under licence from the SFIA Foundation. Information about the SFIA can be found at http://www.sfia-online.org/en
 The Leadership competencies for Queensland framework plays a key role in translating the government’s ‘talent management requirements’ into clear behavioural terms. The competencies can be utilised in talent management strategies, including workforce planning, talent acquisition, leadership development, capability development, performance management, career management and succession planning. The competences can be accessed here Leadership competencies for Queensland