Figure 1: Programme Management Framework.
This framework will provide the following:
Within this framework, there are four stages.
There are four stages in programme management:
These stages take the programme from initiation, based on strategy and a desire for change, to the final realisation of a defined business objective or benefit.
This stage is a high-level process where the strategy and direction of the organisation are decided. From this, the programmes required to realise these strategies are determined. A document for each programme is produced outlining the business case, alignment to strategy, scope and the expected business objective or benefits. All benefits should be graded by their importance. I suggest three grades, A, B, and C. A's are those benefits that are of the highest value. Often 20% of the programme delivers 80% of the benefits. The B's are those benefits that are seen as important but not essential. The C's are those benefits that, if not realised, will not prevent the programme from being declared a success.
The programme manager uses this grading to assess the degree of success achieved at the end of the programme.
The planning stage is where the design of the programme takes place. In establishing the programme, the programme manager will:
It is vital at this stage to identify adequate levels of resources for the early projects and the requirements for later projects.
At this stage, the individual project managers run the identified projects. The programme manager's responsibility at this stage is to monitor progress, assess risks and report progress to the steering committee or leadership. The programme manager has a view across all projects and must ensure that the programme stays aligned with the overall objectives and strategy of the organisation.
Like projects, programmes have a finite life and are closed once they achieve their defined business objective or benefit. Before the programme is closed, the programme manager must demonstrate to the steering committee or leadership that the desired benefits have been realised, often called 'benefits realisation'. These benefits are those that were identified in the first stage, programme identification. As these have been graded, it is easy to quantify success. For example, 100% of 'A' graded benefits are delivered. As a final task, the programme manager should review the entire programme and document any lessons that have been learned that will enable future programmes to be run more effectively.
To summarise, a group of related projects not managed as a programme will likely run off course and fail to achieve the desired outcome. It is, therefore, important that programmes are run within a framework that ensures a focus on the overall strategic objectives. By applying the four stages of programme management within the framework outlined, organisations will have created an effective environment in which they can monitor and control the progress of their programmes, improving the chances of bringing them to a successful conclusion.
This article is retained for archival purposes.