So what is programme management anyway?


I like the concept of a reverse eureka moment. Rather than a sudden realisation of discovery, a reverse eureka moment is when you suddenly realise that something you had talked about for ages, commented on and even been part of, is in fact a bit of a mystery: take Programme Management for example.

I spoke to a client recently who had experienced this.

“I have used the phrase Programme Management many times. I have heard it talked about in meetings, and seen it as an action point in various strategies. But it was only recently when I went to define it that I realised I don’t actually know what it really means!”

A classic reverse eureka moment. And to his credit that he could admit to it.

So, what is Programme Management?

The best definition is something like:

The action of carrying out co-ordinated organisation, direction and implementation of a dossier of projects and transformation activities (in the programme) to achieve outcomes and realise benefits of strategic importance to the business.

In other words, having control and oversight of a range of separate but linked projects to make sure they work together to benefit the organisation.

Programmes can be vison led (from the top), emergent (from the front line), or compliance (must dos). But whatever they are about and wherever they have come from, a number of key principles remain true.

Programme Management: the key to successful transformation

Programmes must remain aligned with the corporate strategy; they must lead change; communicate a better future; focus on benefits; add value and prioritise learning.

There are other important elements: clear roles and decision making routes; agreed success criteria; stakeholder engagement and a blueprint for delivery that can inform an overarching programme plan. And to put the argument in one place, you need a business plan and a close look at any risks you can see and need to plan for.

Of course any big programme will cause tensions. There is the need to maintain the day to day job and ensure business as usual carries on. There is a need to keep communicating and informing people so that they know what is happening and what is changing in their world.

But above all else, Programme Management is not just about the details, the processes, the governance and the plans.

It is about transformation.

Successful companies and organisations are always transforming themselves. Changing, innovating, trying new things out. Not everything works first time, but all ideas are worth at least considering. Programme management, properly understood and applied, helps this happen. It makes change safe and transformation possible.

If you would like to find out more about how to make your transformation possible through effective programme management have a look at the Sirius programme and project management page HERE or call us for a chat.

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