Programme Management Uncovered – Part 2

What is involved in the Programme?

The first essential here is to have a clear set of Programme Objectives which will enable the Business Vision to be achieved.  They may be similar in intent to the words in the Vision but will be captured in a more pragmatic, clear, more detailed, more implementable way.  Examples of these might be:

  • To develop and implement a new target operating model in order to move to a significantly higher level of business performance.
  • To improve staff morale
  • To increase customer satisfaction
  • To implement management information systems to provide better MI to improve decision making
  • To design and implement new, more standardised and simplified processes and controls
  • To reduce duplication and improve efficiencies leading to cost savings
  • To implement new IT/ERP systems – or to integrate existing systems more effectively
  • To deliver focused information, on line and real time
  • To improve decision making support to the business
  • To implement new performance management and reward systems.
  • To embed a new xxx philosophy into the provision of xxxx services
  • To create a xxxx function which is more effective and adds shareholder value
  • To become an organisation of superior performing people
  • To move to a business partnering model
  • To implement new clearer accountabilities
  • To implement a new values based way of working
  • To ensure consistent governance across the whole business
  • To build a platform which is scalable and ready for future growth
These will typically be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) in the same way that individuals’ objectives should be set – but this can only be done in a “live” situation.

Transformational Leaders









The next key element to agree at an early stage is what is in Scope and what is not.  The different dimensions of this can include:

  • Geography – here it is vital to spell out which territories and businesses are to be included – global, regional, country based or entity, even down to divisions if necessary;
  • Business areas – these are often broken down into “Customer facing” activities (e.g. marketing, sales, and customer services), Logistics and distribution, or “back office” (Finance, HR, Procurement, IT, etc).  It is more common nowadays for businesses to think in an “end to end process” or joined up way. For example, people talk about (Purchase to Pay (P2P), Order to cash, Record to Report (R2R) etc;  my recommendation is that you should definitely try to look at this matter from an end to end process point of view – and list out the detail of what is in scope;
  • Value based analysis – The typical value pyramid has strategy and policy at the top, decision support and Management Information in the middle and transaction processing at the foot – so the key here is where you should draw the line. Many organisations go for the big prizes or quick wins first and these are often in the Transaction processing part of the model – but not always.
  • Temporal – what is the time phasing of the programme and the key priorities/dependencies – this may depend on other business priorities.

As well as defining what is in scope, it is equally important to be clear and communicate what is “out of scope” – try not to leave anything ambiguous.

One of the main reasons programmes and projects fail is that management fail to discuss and agree what the actual “Requirements” are that are to be included in the scope and for solutions to be found.  This sounds very basic and is at the heart of many programmes and projects (but often dealt with badly).  Typically there are three levels of requirements:

  • Business Requirements – these identify the company’s high-level objectives; your business requirements are often the ‘driver’ of the project’s success. After all, the project was probably initiated to address gaps or needs in the business operations;
  • User Requirements – these describe how the user (i.e. the person who will use the application in the real world) wants it to work. It has nothing to do with the underlying technology or business needs; it’s how the user want the system to perform. Most business analysts capture these in process flow diagrams using a tool such as Visio or Business Optics;
  • Functional Requirements – once we know what the user wants, we can describe how the software/hardware/device will function in the functional requirements document (FRD). To do this correctly, we list each behaviour that the software must exhibit, for example, what it needs to start a process and what it delivers on the other side; and, we also need to capture non-functional requirements.

The requirements should be prioritised – ideally into “essential” and “desirable”.  And again, it is useful to capture anything major that is not required – at least not at this stage.  There are many checklists and examples available on the Internet – or see the attachment.

It is really helpful at this stage to define as much as possible what the outline “Solution” looks like – this should be possible, at least at a high level, if the vision is clear.  A useful tool/graphic is to build a “rich picture” capturing the various components of the solution graphically.  This can be very powerful and helps with many of the next stages and gets people thinking on the same page.  The components are likely to include Customers, suppliers, the Target organisation model, people, something on systems, measurement, etc.   The best way to generate this rich picture is to get all of the relevant people with a facilitator and brainstorm the components and then build the picture.  This may be an iterative process and may need to involve others so can take time, but is seriously worthwhile when completed.   This rich picture and the words behind it can then be shared with other team members, senior management, solution providers etc and helps enormously to get people “on the same page”.

There are many “Design” questions at this stage, some of which are linked to previous and future parts of this approach, and include such topics as objectives, economics, approach, etc.  My preferred tool is to use the 7 levers of change here – the 7 levers being vision, organisation, culture people, process, technology, and performance measurement.  This is a very versatile tool which can assist with design and problem solving- see attached graphic.

When looking at Organisation, many organisations try to define “the best” (see chart) or “what does good looks like” or to describe what the success factors around the solution – and often a combination of these works very well. As an example, here is a list based on a “mission for Finance”:

  • Always strive to add value
  • Support the business – treat internal people as customers
  • Look for operational excellence – quality in everything
  • Be professional
  • Look after, and grow, your staff and teams
  • Look to harness and exploit technology
  • Meet the corporate governance needs
  • Look to communicate well
  • Reposition and improve perceptions.

A significant component of change programmes is always Technology. Organisations have normally invested heavily in systems and have a plethora of legacy systems, local applications and a host of un-integrated systems and tools.   A useful starting point is a sound description of the existing landscape setting out the architecture, the core systems, links to external systems/customers/suppliers/banks etc, data warehouses, and decision support systems. The next step is to review the IT strategy, the proposed (and current) IT infrastructure and architecture, the existing IT capability, any outsourced arrangements, third party support contracts, backup arrangements (including disaster recovery planning).

Linked to this is the requirement for new and better management information which comes from these systems.  Typically this can be shown on value pyramid with Strategic MI, often using the Balanced Business Scorecard technique at the top, essential KPIs and decision support/MI in the middle, and detailed operational and transactional data at the foot.

A useful summary at this stage is the proposed outputs (or deliverables) – some examples are:

  • Clear vision and strategy
  • Scope and requirements defined
  • Outline solution
  • An outline business case
  • A Transformation Map
  • Milestone plan and ideally a detailed plan including dependencies
  • Possibly something at this stage on process definition
  • IT constraints and opportunities
  • Change management strategy
  • Communications plan
  • Resources and skill requirements
  • Governance proposals
  • etc

I wish to leave Critical Success Factors till the “How” section in Part 5.

Large European Travel company – Transformation Programme
The goals of this cross business transformation programme were to improve customer service levels, to reorganise the business into a single UK entity and to drive efficiency.The key factors in making this a success were:

  • New UK MD involved on a daily basis
  • Board directors owned the programme and  its constituent parts
  • Regular stakeholder meetings


Message – Stakeholder engagement is vital to success.
Central Government Department
The department’s challenge was to find a better, more cost effective way of delivering IT/ERP systems based on either SAP or Oracle.There were many potential solutions including an in-house function, moving to a software-as-a-service model, outsourcing to another large government department or outsourcing to a commercial third party.Each solution was analysed in detail and the pros and cons of each identified and costed.
Message – the devil is in the detail.
Large Shared Services Programme
Big team – 120 – mostly consultants and contractors – from six different providers/suppliersChallenges – different roles, different ways of working, different values – different expectationsSolution – clarity of roles, detailed plan, weekly progress meetings, many joint workshops, lots of communications
Message – Build a robust approach and get people to buy in to it.
Global Professional Services Company
Turnaround programmeClear visionStrong leadershipSenior stakeholder supportFocused change management strategy including change agentsLots of communicationsFrequent programme progress meetings
Message – strong leadership and visible sponsorship with accountability and values are the keys to success.