Capital projects for utilities are on the rise in our project-oriented global economy. Whether driven by reliability needs, government regulations, infrastructure upgrades or other factors, the need for experienced program management professionals, plus qualified staff to execute projects, to safeguard these hefty investments has never been greater.

With effective program management, utilities can draw together a vast number of large, complex projects under a single management structure to guide efforts toward a successful outcome. Project owners often boast increased efficiency, improved control and reduced risk with an experienced program management team.

However, adding dedicated program management professionals to a utility’s in-house staff may be a difficult task. According to the Project Management Institute, the availability of qualified program management talent is diminishing despite the growing need.

Therefore, hiring an external consulting team may be the most effective, cost-efficient solution to reap numerous benefits.  

Access a robust team — Program management requires several essential roles and responsibilities that cannot be effectively fulfilled by one individual. From program manager and project manager to project controls manager and construction manager, each of these roles is vital to the effectiveness of the team and the programs each oversees.

Meet immediate needs quickly — Rather than dedicating valuable time to filling and training individual roles, onboarding an external program management partner can be significantly faster. In addition to collectively ramping up with a team that is already accustomed to working together, utilities can benefit from that team’s collective knowledge of technology solutions and best practices garnered from other projects throughout the industry.

Set a contract deadline — Though increasing in scale and frequency, capital programs do eventually end. This means the robust teams may oversee short-term programs that last three to five years. An external partnership allows utilities the flexibility to hire program management assistance only when needed. 

The right program management team can increase productivity and provide added value for complex initiatives. By bringing in external resources, utilities can fill the gaps they may have with qualified staff to get the job done from inception to closeout.


Ongoing transmission improvement planning for electrical infrastructure is complex. Learn how embracing an upfront commitment to planning and leveraging program management experience can meet goals within a predictable schedule and budget.

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James Duehning is a project manager at Burns & McDonnell who specializes in program management. He is experienced with supporting and leading large-scale electrical transmission programs, as well as managing teams of employees and subcontractors to deliver programs for high-voltage transmission lines and substations.