Programme plan

The schedule of projects to deliver the benefits of your change programme

"What steps do I have to take to make the changes and get the benefit?"

The Programme Plan and Project Portfolio is a key control document for the programme. It enables the Programme Manager, on behalf of the Programme Director, to ensure that a planned and controlled environment is established and maintained throughout the life of the programme.

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It provides the basis for tracking the impact of each project on the Programme’s overall goals, benefits, risks and costs.

It also enables the Programme Manager to monitor the dynamics of the inter-relationships between each project and to act when a delay in any one project might jeopardise the work of others.

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Developing and maintaining the Programme Plan and Project Portfolio requires the ongoing coordination of all the Project Plans.

The focus for programme planning is on the interdependencies between the projects and any dependencies on external factors outside the control of the programme.

It is a 'living' entity, providing a definitive and up-to-date picture of the programme from which reports can be drawn to analyse and publicise the current status of the programme.

Grouping projects

If you have a large number of projects, it is useful to group the projects around distinct step changes in organisational capability such as increasing competencies or improving the organisation's infrastructure.

programme plan, strategies for managing change,change management methodologies Grouping projects in this way requires consideration of the schedule of benefits and the network of dependencies between the projects.

Projects can be grouped by:

  • Discipline - programmes tend to be multi-disciplinary, whereas projects are often seen as single discipline.
  • Location - a multi-site project is inherently difficult to manage, largely because of the communication overheads between members of the project team and Project Management. Projects may be grouped together so the activities that can be achieved at a single site
  • Deliverables - projects can be scoped by grouping the required deliverables so that each project is responsible for a single, or closely related set of, deliverables
  • Avoiding contention for resources - any input required by a project is a 'resource' and includes people, time, materials or services. So, minimising resource sharing between projects will help prevent 'bottlenecks' occurring.

The objectives are:

  • To avoid overlaps between projects and hence promote clear accountability

  • To keep the interfaces between projects to a minimum so that central coordination of the Project Portfolio is made easier.

Shared resources

Shared resources also represent a set of dependencies between projects and needs to be coordinated at the programme level.

The programme planning process will identify a number of resources that need to be shared between projects. Typical examples are:

  • Staff - where people are involved with more than one project within the programme
  • Infrastructure or facilities - for example, where office space may need to be shared
  • Information - where multiple projects update a shared repository of data
  • Third party services - where several projects make use of a common service provider.

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Dependency network

The network of dependencies between projects needs to documented showing:

  • Description
  • Title of project responsible for delivery
  • Dependencies TO other projects and/or products
  • Dependencies ON other projects and/or products

The purpose of this is to enable the Programme Manager to schedule the projects and to analyse the impact of any potential slippages and to assess the level of "wiggle room" before a slippage by one project in turn delays another.

Project definition

Project definition including objectives, scope, deliverables and/or outcomes, any exclusions, constraints, and interfaces.

For each of the projects within the Portfolio, the following should be identified:

  • An outline Business Case for the project [indicating how it supports the programme and links to the benefits]
  • Brief description of the deliverable/outcome
  • Project sponsor responsible for the project
  • Dependencies on other projects
  • Target delivery date
  • Cost profile
  • Resource profile
  • Benefit Profile(s) relevant to the project
  • Quality expectations
  • Acceptance criteria for the project
  • Any known risks affecting the project

Project Closure

The process of project closure is an integral aspect of the Programme Plan and Project Portfolio and [supported by the Programme Manager] the purpose is to identify any lessons learned and to effect the formal hand-over of the deliverable or outcome.

The Post Project Reviews should be scheduled to fit into the Programme Benefit Review process.

Additional resources

What is Project management?

Project management principles - 10 ways to make a project fail

Project management methodologies - 8 ways to succeed

Project management skills - 8 key factors

Risk Management

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