Seven top tips for programme management

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For many the number seven is deemed to be lucky while for others it has religious significance. There are seven wonders of the world, seven colours in a rainbow, and seven pillars of wisdom. The human working (short term) memory can usually (just about) cope with seven items. So why not have seven top tips for programme management?

So what merits inclusion in the top tips list?

The best thing about the internet and living in ‘on-line’ Britain is that there are a wealth of reports from trusted sources instantly available concerning the progress of those really high profile programmes.  At the top of the pile is London 2012, but there are others such as Edinburgh Trams, the Cardiff Millennium Stadium and Heathrow’s Terminal 5 all of which have all been subject to independent audit or Parliamentary scrutiny.

So what can be gleaned from these very public programmes; both good and bad?

Surprisingly it isn’t difficult and certainly not rocket science to compile the following list:

  1. Vision:  Does you programme have a vision as clear and compelling as London 2012:  a) to deliver world class games b) regenerate the East End c) leave a legacy of sport for the UK.
  2. Organisation:  Are roles and responsibilities in your programme clearly defined and do you have people with the right skills and experience?
  3.  Benefits:  Is your programme delivering or likely to deliver benefits?  The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is not just an iconic sporting venue, it has been an integral part of the city centre development.
  4. Business Case:  Does your business case show that the benefits exceed the costs + risks + the timescales?
  5. Risks:  Is risk management being applied to every aspect of your programme; not simply construction.  Cast you minds back to the security guard shortfall just before the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
  6. Change management:  Are you attending to those critical change management issues?  The Transport Committee of the House of Commons highlighted this and other issues with the opening of Heathrow’s highly impressive Terminal 5.
  7. Communications and stakeholder engagement:  The interim findings of Audit Scotland about the progress of the Edinburgh Tram Programme underlines the significance of effective communications.

I would be interested in your views?  Do you agree with my tips or are there others you would like to include?


Posted by James Dale on 30th Aug 2012

About the Author

Dr Jim Dale is an independent project management consultant, mentor and advisor. He is an APM accreditation assessor, an RPP assessor, a PQ facilitator / assessor and an IPMA verifier. Jim has a professional doctorate in change management (University of Portsmouth) and  MBA (pass with distinction) from CASS Business School and has achieved practitioner status in a suite of APMG methods. Jim’s early project background is in policing where he has managed several multi million pound transformational change initiatives, including setting up and delivering tranche 1 of Forensics21, leading a major root and branch review of Sussex Police and managing the introduction of a new call centre, digital telephony, a single non emergency number and ‘e’ contact for that force. Jim is a long standing committee member of ProgM and was the secretary for many years. Several feature articles written by Jim has been published in academic and professional journals, including Project magazine.

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