How to get started - managing a programme
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  • 1. How to get started – managing a programme
  • 2. Introduction
    This guide is aimed at those responsible for planning and managing a programme, either in a programme management role or implementing best practice in programme management via programme or portfolio office activities.
    This guide is based on the processes within Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) and identifies key activities in starting a programme:
    What questions to ask
    What actions to take
    The ideas in this guide have been written by experienced programme managers who know how to get a programme underway quickly, based on best practice and capable of demonstrating real progress and quick wins in a short timescale.
    © Maven Training 2011
  • 3. What is programme management?
    “The coordinated management of related projects, which may include related business-as-usual activities, that together achieve a beneficial change of a strategic nature for an organization.”
    © Maven Training 2011
  • 4. Programme lifecycle
    Programme lifecycle
    Project lifecycle
    Business change lifecycle
  • 5. First steps - direction
    In the MSP® best practice approach the vision for the programme must be established and agreed to by those sponsoring the programme before any further programme planning can be undertaken.
    In reality, the vision is the product of a great deal of discussion, research, pilots and trial runs and evolves over time.
    If you are asked to manage a programme your first task is to establish how far through the process of Identifying a Programme senior management have got. Ask the following questions to clarify your understanding:
    Has the vision of the programme been defined yet?
    How much of the organisations strategic objectives appear to be included in this vision?
    If so, is there broad agreement about what the programme is trying to achieve?
    If not, what are the main sticking points?
    Who are the most vocal sponsors of the programme and why is this?
    Has anyone expressed strong opposition, and if so why?
    Has someone formally accepted the role of programme sponsor (SRO) and if so, what is their level of support within the organisation?
    © Maven Training 2011
  • 6. First steps - structure
    Programmes are the mechanism for realising strategic objectives. They can be highly political, with those in the programme manager and programme sponsor (SRO) roles having authority over significant levels of resource (people and money).
    Most organisations have a way of managing strategic work, so before you get started ask:
    Is there an organisation wide framework for programme management?
    Does the organisation have expertise in project management that will support the delivery of the projects within the programme?
    Does the organisation have a formal pool of project managers that can be assigned to key strategic projects?
    Does the organisation have an approach for managing change that you will need to incorporate into the way in which you manage the programme?
    How does information flow between those responsible for change and those responsible for ‘business as usual tasks’ – what are the reporting lines, what are the tools to support communication?
    © Maven Training 2011
  • 7. Next steps – defining the scope
    In the MSP® best practice approach once the vision for the programme has been defined, there are a number of deliverables that are created to establish the details about the programme and which form the contents of the programme plan:
    The Blueprint establishes, in more detail than the vision statement, exactly what the programme is going to deliver.
    In some cases the Blueprint will identify the tranches of the programme i.e., the step changes in capability that are to be achieved as the programme moves towards its final outcome.
    Each capability described in the Blueprint costs money and delivers benefits. As the ideas are defined on the Blueprint, costs and benefits are identified and added to the Business Case.
    © Maven Training 2011
  • 8. Next steps – defining the scope
    © Maven Training 2011
    • This is an iterative process as ideas are added and removed to achieve the greatest benefits for the least costs i.e., the strongest programme Business Case possible.
    • 9. As a result of the Blueprint, you can begin to identify all of the projects that need to be delivered as part of the programme. The Blueprint gives you a top down approach to achieve this, but remember that there are likely to be a number of projects already underway in the organisation that you want to draw into your programme, or ideas for projects that various business functions would like to see included – so you are unlikely to have a blank sheet of paper to work with.
    • 10. Finally once you know the projects and the order of the programme tranches you can begin the programme plan.
  • Next steps – planning
    The programme plan has to define all the expected tasks and activities associated with each of the planned projects BUT it will constantly change as projects are added and removed, deadlines and resources for each project change and the prioritisation of the projects is amended to respond to the needs of the business.
    When deciding on the format and structure of the programme plan, remember that:
    There is a wide audience all interested in different aspects of the programme plan e.g., senior managers who are interested in the realisation of the benefits; project managers who need to understand where their projects fit in relation to other programme initiatives; business managers who have to release their resources to work on the different projects.
    © Maven Training 2011
  • 11. Next steps – planning
    © Maven Training 2011
    The programme plan provides the content for the project plans, and is also impacted by the information from the project plans. To facilitate this two way exchange of information, consider a common format for all levels of plan and define what type of information needs to appear on which plans.
    • To maintain confidence in the programme and to generate senior management support, the programme plan must include quick wins, short, medium and long term actions.
    • 12. This timeframe must match the expectations and culture of the organisation. For example, in some commercial organisations medium term is only 18 months, long term is 2-3 years but in the public sector these timeframes might be much longer.
    If you would like to develop your programme management skills we recommend this entry level course: MSP Foundation
    If you would like to discuss how to develop programme management skills within your organisation, please contact us to arrange a free business review.
    Call today on 020 7089 6161 to discuss your requirements or email us at or visit the Maven website for more information.