Untitled%20design 5

What is Fractional Program Management?

As organizations struggle with the conflicting pressures of lean staffing and workforce agility, many are considering leveraging Elastic Talent models to source extra-organizational labor to resolve short-term organizational gaps and drive critical business outcomes.

Elastic Talent is the tactic of leveraging specialized external resources under fractional commitment models to drive highly agile initiatives. As business needs continue to become more elastic in requirements and timing, Elastic Talent solutions allow organizations to reach agile staffing postures to resolve short-term and fractional talent needs as they emerge

Fractional Program Management FAQs

What is the difference between Staff Augmentation and Fractional Talent?

Fractional Talent is very different from typical staff augmentation and labor contracting models.

Under short-term contracting staffing solutions, companies engage with 3rd party suppliers to provide a form of full-time staff augmentation for a specific period of performance. Due to the nature of these engagements, 40% or more of the talent costs are immediately consumed by contractor overhead, impacting the ability to source and retain quality talent.

Fractional Talent differs in that the labor commitments are fractional and align with the actual business needs of the recipient organization. For example, rather than hire a full-time contracted DBA for a part-time need, under an Elastic Talent model, the organization would engage a higher quality DBA resource to reserve only a fraction of their availability in alignment with the initiative's requirements. While the hourly cost of a fractional resource is comparatively higher, fractional utilization often results in a higher-quality resource operating at a lower total cost.

What is Fractional Program Management?

Fractional Program Management uses the Elastic Talent concept to apply the discipline and organization of Program Management as a part-time or "fractional" resource or set of resources. Under a fractional PM engagement, Program Management services can be delivered by a single Fractional PM resource or as a more robust and coordinated Fractional Program Management Office (PMO).

In either configuration, the goals and responsibilities of Fractional Program Management can include:

  • Defining project goals.

  • Developing project plans

  • Creating and managing project schedules

  • Identifying and mitigating risks

  • Communicating project status and progress to stakeholders

Fractional Program Managers also collaborate with team members and stakeholders to ensure project deliverables meet quality standards and are delivered on time and within budget. 

In addition, they may provide leadership and guidance to project teams, facilitate team meetings and workshops, and identify opportunities for process improvement and optimization. Overall, the role of a Fractional Program Manager is to ensure that projects are executed efficiently, effectively, and successfully while meeting the needs and objectives of the company.

Why choose a Fractional PM over a full-time PM?

There are several reasons why an organization may want to hire a Fractional PM. First, in many cases, the potential projects or programs that fall under the purview of a Program Manager may require only a fractional time commitment and would be served well by a part-time PM. Additionally, by engaging an external Fractional PM, an organization can source someone with specific domain experience relevant to the execution of a project.

For example, migrating an ERP system to a cloud-hosted infrastructure is a highly specialized effort requiring a significant technical ramp-up time for teams with limited experience. By engaging a Fractional PM, an organization can source an experienced resource with the specialized domain experience to manage and execute the effort. As a result, the organization receives immediate knowledge and experience for the duration of the effort without the overhead costs of a full-time resource or contractor.

What is a Fractional PMO?

A Fractional PMO is a solution to implement a Project/Program Management Office under a fractional time commitment. In a Fractional PMO, the objectives focus on establishing the standards, processes, and artifacts for an organization to execute projects and programs with discipline and effectiveness routinely.

A Fractional PMO is an excellent solution for growing organizations, startups, and others to establish the foundations of project and program excellence without the need to hire full-time PMO staff. As the organization grows and matures, these PMO processes can be internalized all or in part as dictated by the needs and agility of the organization. 

Best Practices for Leveraging a Fractional PM

If a Fractional PM sounds like an excellent option for your organization, there are some basic best practices to consider.

  • Establish clear expectations and scope for the PM.
    While the effort itself may be undefined, ambiguous, and agile in nature, the role of the PM should be clear. Definitions of authority, communication, reporting, objectives, and outcomes should be documented and agreed upon before starting work.

  • Fractional commitment does not mean on-call commitment.
    Fractional resources provide a portion of their time and are often committed to multiple clients and projects simultaneously. Therefore, timeframes, checkpoints, and meeting cadences should be established and followed to ensure routine and manageable utilization for all parties.

  • Agility without authority is just consulting.
    Fractional PMs become far more effective when empowered to get things done. Consider what approval processes, work tracking, and authorizations are vital within an effort and provide your Fractional PM with the tools to execute within that framework.


In conclusion, as organizations continue to face the challenges of lean staffing and workforce agility, using Elastic Talent models such as Fractional Talent and Fractional Program Management can effectively address short-term and fractional talent needs. Organizations can reach agile staffing postures and achieve critical business outcomes by leveraging specialized external resources under fractional commitment models.

Fractional Program Managers and PMOs can offer significant benefits to organizations, including specific domain experience and expertise, without the overhead costs of full-time resources or contractors. With careful consideration of best practices, Fractional PMs can become a valuable addition to an organization's staffing strategy and help ensure the successful execution of projects and programs.

Follow Us