Program Management

May 1, 2016

What is Program Management?

Program Management is typically defined as managing multiple projects for the purpose of meeting a common goal, and, while it may take on many different forms, there is a common process involved. At the programming level, the emphasis of management is on the planning and monitoring of overall objectives rather than focusing on the details of executing any specific project component. Halff provides this service to many of our clients.

Setting Objectives

One of the key elements in a program is outlining and publishing clear objectives that can be conveyed to project managers and task leaders. The program manager is responsible for establishing policies and requirements that are necessary to achieve the objective. For a water utility, a goal may be to develop documentation of the assets under construction or that are already in place, as often happens on highway design-build projects. This documentation is necessary from design through construction to ensure that the assets meet the utility’s standards and that they are fully integrated into the utility’s asset management protocols prior to the utility taking over and accepting ownership.


Planning involves fully communicating with the stakeholders to understand the established policies and requirements for the team including:
• Identification of key milestones and resources for project implementation (Determine the best starting point. Welcome constructive feedback.)
• Personnel needs assessment (Assign the right team member. Form the best team.)
• Budgeting (Develop cost estimates. Determine/recommend funds allocation.)
• Evaluation of processes and people impacted (Determine a list of stakeholders.)
• Schedule for implementation (Develop change management plan.)

With the goal of documenting actual construction of utilities, the water utility manager may introduce policies to be implemented within the normal inspection and construction management process.

For example, on the SH 183 design-build project, City of Irving and Halff have worked with the developer to electronically track fi eld design changes as they arise. Since construction documents are continuously changing throughout the project, a separate web-based fi le management and sharing system has been integrated into the project to provide access to documents and allow multiple groups to share data. The City has also requested that all critical points such as bends, tees, valves, manholes, encasement limits, etc., be surveyed prior to backfilling the trench. Tracking this information through established documentation processes helps to avoid construction confl icts with future phases of construction by other contracting disciplines.

Monitoring Progress

Collecting data, reviewing reports and evaluating the effectiveness and progress of specific projects as it relates to the intended goal helps determine the success of each project and the program. Sometimes this process involves creating new mechanisms to track expenses and savings or to keep up with additional process requirements. Once the information is obtained, the program manager can determine if adjustments are needed or if and where additional budgets should be allocated. After new policies are implemented to accommodate live utility design updates, the water utility manager may request feedback from the various parties involved, including inspectors, valve crews, engineering staff, contractors, etc., and may also compare the overall cost of implementing new policies or projects versus the effectiveness of the project or processes.

The City of Irving and Halff have been taking lessons learned from early phases of construction along SH 183 and adjusting processes and information requirements for changes on later phases of construction. These include identifying potential fi eld conflicts and construction phasing issues early so the need for expedited design changes are minimized.

Halff Expertise

Halff assists clients with every step of the program management process and in multiple ways. In our role as a City or Town Engineer for places like Bridgeport, Lake Dallas, Annetta, Cooper Canyon, Double Oak, Hickory Creek and Northlake, we coordinate and manage all aspects of public works projects including planning and developing projects. Halff has also been involved in developing capital improvement plans and floodplain management plans.

For the City of Irving, Halff provides a variety of services including staff augmentation to assist the City with the SH 183 design-build project. Halff has acted as the City’s liaison with TxDOT’s project developer for issues related to lighting, drainage, intersection and roadway design and utility relocations. Halff also has managed the utility easement acquisition process for 80 parcels. Schedule and budget tracking are critical components on this large and fast-paced project.

The Take-Away

Halff is fully invested in sharing valuable information that can help our clients solve immediate issues and plan for the future through innovation and smarter solutions. Halff has a multi-disciplined team of professionals who work together to help clients achieve long-lasting results and the greatest value for our clients’ investments. If Halff can assist your team, please call Executive Vice President Jessica Baker, PE, CFM, PMP, at (214) 217-6692.