Programs exist to deliver tangible benefits, usually in a rapidly changing environment. A clear direction is the foundation for a successful program. Using a consistent, easily explainable lifecycle allows a program manager to communicate how the program will be managed and what success will look like once the program is completed and the changes embedded.
The following diagram illustrates the typical lifecycle of a program, starting from the definition of the strategy to be delivered by the program, and reaching a defined end point when that strategy has been achieved.
The main characteristics of the lifecycle are:
- Strategy definition: defining the business objectives to be met by the program. Clear definition of the strategy and objectives is essential before the program can progress onto the next phase
- Program definition: identifying and selecting projects to form the optimum program to achieve the business objectives. This stage includes planning the overall timescales, costs, resources and interdependencies
- Program execution: managing the total program to ensure that objectives are met through the delivery of benefits from the constituent projects. Continual assessment of the program structure is needed as well as the ability to make changes where necessary to re-align program to objectives
- Benefits delivery: deriving the total planned benefits from the program, such that the program objectives are met.
A top program manager assures that the program will deliver to its full potential – not just the sum of its individual parts. A good program delivers more by using a consistent lifecycle to ensure the right people are doing the right things in the right way to achieve the right result.
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