Technical Program Management
When talking about “Technical Program Management,” companies typically reference the function they have deployed for managing their more ‘technical’ projects, or that supports only their ‘technical’ teams and domains. They also usually interpret the word ‘Program’ as managing multiple ‘projects’ simultaneously. Well, at DISQO, we do things differently. Technical Program Management (TPgM) here is a highly strategic function that drives focus, creates visibility, and enables strategic alignment. We combine Strategic Program Management with Technical Program Management to drive the execution of DISQO’s strategic priorities and objectives to drive impact and unlock value.
Technical Program Management at DISQO
As part of DISQOTECH (DISQO’s Tech Organization), and with DISQO being a product-led organization, TPgM is in a unique position to support DISQO’s vision by partnering with Product and Engineering to drive strategic, cross-functional initiatives and outcomes with Product at the center.
TPgM’s relationship with Product and Engineering is like a drive gear in a gear assembly; it helps both gears turn as designed. However, TPgM should not be viewed as a layer in between. There should always be an open and direct line of communication between the Product and Engineering.
Similarly, and to cite another metaphor, TPgM at DISQO is also like the connective tissue between Product, Engineering, and other functions in the company like Marketing, Sales, Customer Success and Finance. At all touchpoints, we are there to drive the delivery of intended outcomes tied to our objectives and key results.
TPgM supports and enables teams across DISQOTECH by applying the following principles:
Simplicity: Keep things as simple as possible. This enables DISQO to accelerate innovation and become more efficient as an organization. TPgM aims at adopting simple yet effective frameworks and practices.
Ownership: TPgM partners with leadership and stakeholders to identify and enable single-threaded leaders for each domain and team, and to empower them to deliver measurable impact.
Accountability: TPgM collaborates with stakeholders and single-threaded leaders to establish clear lines of accountability in the delivery of value to our audience members and enterprise customers.
Technical Program Management Focus Areas
DISQO’s TPgM supports single-threaded leaders and domains in numerous ways:
Objectives and Key Results: TPgM owns the OKR program across all of DISQO. This is the framework we use to help us set our strategic direction and to focus our teams on work that matters most. With total transparency, we empower everyone in the organization to row in the same direction to achieve our common highest priority goals. This oversight, alignment, and transparency gives DISQO the organizational agility to switch gears and course-correct when necessary. As a high-growth company working in the quickly evolving customer experience (CX) category, this ability to pivot quickly in service to our customers is invaluable.
What does owning the OKR program entail? For a start, this involves partnering with leadership to set and communicate our overarching company priorities annually, and ensuring that all teams within DISQO have transparent quarterly objectives and measurable key results that ladder up to our company priorities.
TPgM is directly involved in quarterly planning where we facilitate conversations and drive OKR setting. We facilitate and drive discussions to identify initiatives to achieve Key Results, and we partner with Product Managers, Engineering Managers, Design, and other teams to drive these initiatives, track progress against OKRs, eliminate blockers, and facilitate cross-functional collaboration.
Importantly, we also painstakingly ensure that dependencies are identified, communicated, and managed, so that nothing falls through the cracks. This happens through Technical Program Managers working directly with the stakeholders and the domains they support, and through a network of OKR Champions who help with driving alignment across the business.
Communications are key to bringing all of this together. TPgM enables transparency through OKRs, by working with OKR Champions and teams across DISQO to pulse on the status of objectives, and measure key results. Pulsing and measuring enables the business to have a real-time assessment of progress towards our business goals so we can make any necessary adjustments during the quarter. This allows us to be transparent with the business and our teams, and hold ourselves accountable to what we commit to do.
Strategic Program Management: For certain strategic initiatives or programs, more hands-on program management support is needed or requested by domain single-threaded leaders. In those instances, Technical Program Managers leverage our TPgM framework to drive the initiative, ensure strategic alignment, drive accountability, and ensure program goals are met.
The value-add of leveraging TPgM for managing strategic programs and initiatives is ensuring there is a proper framework and cadence for managing the program. TPgM ensures stakeholders are well-informed of program status. TPgM partners with Product Management and Engineering to make sure the initiative’s backlog is properly managed. Additionally, TPgM drives milestone setting and tracking, facilitates decision making, manages risks, and resolves blockers.
Dependency Management: As DISQO continues to grow and scale, teams become more dependent on each other to get things done, making cross-departmental dependency management a critical component in increasing predictability, and enabling teams to move the needle for DISQO. TPgM’s role in dependency management happens at multiple phases: from OKR planning and throughout execution. TPgM enables Product and Engineering to do what they do best: building software. TPgM manages all cross-functional work, facilitation and planning associated with dependency management.
DISQO’s unique model for TPgM positioning and support positions us to work cross-functionally with stakeholders and internally as members of the team to help identify, track, and manage dependencies. TPgM ensures dependencies are planned as needed, and that they do not turn into blockers, i.e. “no surprises.”
Transparency and Visibility: One of DISQO’s values is championing transparency among people, and TPgM has a pivotal role in driving transparency and visibility across DISQO, which comes in multiple forms. TPgM partners with leadership to provide regular updates on the health of organizational OKRs and how we are tracking toward our business objectives. This assessment at regular cadence empowers us to make critical decisions like adding resources or adjusting our plans when needed.
In our work with single-threaded leaders, the TPgM team also strives to identify and set meaningful team and domain KPIs supported by tooling and reporting that minimizes administrative overhead. We make insights easily accessible so single-threaded leaders can make data-driven decisions quickly and efficiently.
At the execution level, Technical Program Managers drive transparency and visibility through:
- dependency and KPI dashboards,
- dedicated program spaces,
- collaboration tools,
- interlock meetings that keep stakeholders up to date on the most recent priorities, updates, risks, issues, and accomplishments.
With the strategic positioning and support model DISQO has established for TPgM, everything we do is aimed at driving focus for our teams and domains. We provide the frameworks, tools, support, and thought partnership to allow teams to do what they do best: strategize, build, and deliver value to our members and clients.
Our role is to grease the wheels and keep things moving forward, while at the same time ensuring everyone is rowing in the same direction.