Essential Steps for Delivering Successful Programs -
Steps 5 & 6
5. Adopt Integrated Program Planning
Because of the complexity of programs, program managers must adopt a highly
integrated approach to planning to properly reflect deliverable, resource and
external dependencies. To achieve a detailed program definition and execution
schedule, a number of vital intermediate steps are needed to ensure reliability
- Define and verify scope roll up from projects to program
- Identify and define all cross-project interfaces
- Develop the integrated master schedule
Integrated planning begins with a program charter - which is more detailed
than the business case and provides high-level program scope, objectives and constraints.
The charter provides the foundation for scoping each of the component projects.
The program manager should define boundaries for each project as unambiguously
as possible to avoid gaps on the one hand and overlaps on the other.
The program manager or a member of his or her team must then develop a work
breakdown structure (WBS) for each project to the lowest appropriate level of
detail. Following that, project schedules should be examined for cross-project
interfaces. These interdependencies must be fully defined, matched and linked
to arrive at the detailed, integrated program master schedule.
6. Use Scenario-Based Execution Simulation
With programs, scenario analysis techniques are key to evaluating possible
program outcomes and maximizing credibility with sponsors and governance boards.
Two primary methods I advocate are alternative execution strategy assessment
and probabilistic forecasting and analysis.
Alternative execution strategy assessment reshapes the integrated master
schedule to consider alternative execution approaches. Here, the WBS and schedules
will likely need to be adjusted to assess a number of changes, such as alternative:
- Technical approaches
- Sourcing approaches
- Program funding scenarios and related program scoping variations
Probabilistic forecasting and analysis provides extremely important
answers to two fundamental questions that a program manager and steering committee
will inevitably ask:
- What is the most likely completion date?
- How likely are we to finish by the target date?
Answering these questions honestly and realistically is a key step in the life
of a program.