In every company, having a clear program management plan is vital to maintain sustainable projects. With a proper plan, companies can better organize and monitor every activity or effort contributing to success. They are also able to analyze if an action is worth the time and result when deciding for the next project.

After all, every company strives to continue its business for a long time. Therefore, planning for program management is key to achieving the business goal.

Program management vs. project management plan

Although it may look similar, program management isn’t the same as a project management plan.

A program management plan is a format to outline and document how a program can be well executed, managed, and monitored. Since a program itself is a compilation of various related projects, organizing them is vital to achieving efficiency. Hence, having a program management plan can help businesses keep every project on track.

Program Management Plan

Project Management Plan

Deals with multiple related projects in a group

Involves only one project

Pursues a larger goal from a view of business’ perspective

Works on completing a specific project goal

Uses a long term strategy

Uses a short term strategy

Has a flexible deadline as pursuing a bigger benefit

Sticks to the deadline and is strict about meeting the timeline

Has an extensive program scope that includes various related projects

The scope is around the project itself

Requires more workforces to complete an entire program

Only needs a few members to handle one particular project

Keep in mind that creating a program management plan is entirely different from making a project plan. A program plan solely focuses on receiving benefits for the company without considering its time frame. On the other hand, a project plan is more focused on meeting the deadline to have specific outcomes.

The importance of having a well-designed program management plan

In a company, program managers will take care of various projects and manage each of them effectively. A thought-out program management plan allows you to strategically plan, monitor, and handle all related projects to optimize their efficiency. 

You can figure out how to execute a group of projects simultaneously while also keeping other projects at hand.

Since program management involves running projects, it’s essential to create a proper plan to achieve a long-term goal.

With a well-design program management plan, you’re able to:

  • Monitor every ongoing project to see whether it makes sense and runs on the right track to achieve a company objective
  • Perform day-to-day management activities more effectively
  • Oversee the implementation of the program plan itself, which includes budgeting, scoping, and program governing 
  • Handle the communication and resources between teams and stakeholders
  • Organize every program plan and its documentation to ensure that everything is in line with the initial purpose

Five stages to create an effective program management plan

Define a goal

When planning program management, you need to determine what objective you’re trying to achieve. A goal is essential in ensuring that your work is on the right path.

Here are the best steps.

Do research 

Program management handles a group of related projects to achieve the greatest return on investment. With this in mind, you need to oversee the project you’re going to monitor for the next couple of months. Figure out what’s and what’s not on the project that can affect the entire plan for your business objectives. 

Ask for feedback

After doing research, it’s crucial that you ask for a second opinion on whether your ideas make sense to the company. Your team, superiors, clients, and stakeholders have different but valuable insights into the program.

Collecting actionable feedback and building a strategy based on that helps.

Consider your stakeholders

You can then have a meeting with the stakeholders who are involved in the project. Stakeholders often have their own perspectives. Getting their opinion may help you set a realistic goal for your program plan.

Know your priority

As a program manager, your voice is inherently vital when making a decision towards the plan. Although you’ve seen others’ perspectives, you need to identify and prioritize the best action for the entire program. Hence, considering your knowledge to maximize the program management plan. 

program management framework

Image source:nextforge.com

Set a program baseline

A program baseline is crucial for managers when making a program management plan. It includes almost every vital point that a plan should engage. 

Here is the short blueprint you need to follow. 

Budgeting

Budget is one of the most important aspects of every program plan. Before establishing a program, a manager would consider its budget plan in the very beginning. The finance director won’t quickly agree on a program plan if it doesn’t provide a huge benefit to the company.  

Moreover, budgeting is not just about the money a program requires. It also includes the time spent executing the plan, manpower, and other resources. The main goal is to keep the budget efficient. 

Scoping

When you define goals, figure out how to execute your master plan. Sometimes, an ambitious goal doesn’t meet the desired outcome because it forces your team to work harder, which is not worth the time.

You need to know your limit and how far your team can stretch the program to reach the initial goal. With program scoping, you can minimize disjointed, random things that happen during your process.

Keep your program scope handy. Sketch out all the big and small details so you stay within a framework. 

Deliverable

Since a program management plan requires the input of everyone in your organization, you need to communicate to them the outcome your company wants to achieve. By telling them the company goals, you make it easier to assign a workflow that everyone can follow.

With a deliverable plan, your stakeholders and clients can expect something from your company as they are more likely to see the outcome and build more trust. 

Finalize your plan

After completing the documentation that includes establishing a goal and program baseline, it’s time to finalize your plan. Send the finalized details to your team members and stakeholders with their feedback.

Inform them of any potential issues that may arise during the implementation of the project and how they will affect the overall program plan. If they identify possible problems, they can give you another opinion to improve the plan. 

At this stage, you may as well assign roles to your team members. This phase allows every stakeholder and member to identify each responsibility. They can then connect with the right member when discussing the project.  

You can provide this information in a slide explainer video for detailed documentation and use a Gantt chart to share the completed program plan with your team members and stakeholders. 

Source: gantt.com

This is a Gantt chart, an example of how you make a program plan for your organization. You can allocate each project within a certain timeline and schedule it much more efficiently as you can monitor it from time to time. 

Distribute the final program management plan

You can finally distribute the program plan to everyone. Sharing the documentation will initiate action. Once you’ve finalized the program plan, everyone involved in the related projects can start their work right away. 

You will then also begin with monitoring your program plan. As it consists of various projects, it’d be hard for you to go back and forth gathering the data. You need a tool to manage the program more efficiently and effectively.

With visual task management and bug tracking tool such as zipBoard, you’re able to see every running project and the team involved with it. You can monitor who is working on what, what needs to be done next and everyone’s feedback in a prioritized manner. The tool also enables you to quickly identify when an issue arises.

Make a program post mortem

Program management post mortem is vital for measuring the business objective. It’s a process to evaluate whether the plan has succeeded in achieving the goal. With a program post mortem, you’ll find out every bump that clogs the process of various projects.

You can start answering these questions to help you figure out the delivery of the overall program. 

  • Did you miss the deadline?
  • Is there a postponed project that severely affects the entire program plan?
  • Did the assigned members fix the problem, if it occurred at all?
  • Can the problems that occurred be prevented?
  • What went well and what didn’t with the team?

Answering these questions allows you to evaluate the plan much more effectively. Comparing the post-mortem to the original plan can help you figure out what is derailing your team from achieving its goal.

The post-mortem program is a reflection of the activities of the entire project. Whether or not you achieved the desired goal, evaluating the program plan will allow you to create a better plan for the following projects. 

Conclusion

A program management plan is essential for every company targeting a new achievement. Without a clear plan, it’s hard to achieve the goal and receive the utmost benefit a company desires.  

Since a program is made of many projects, making a program management plan will significantly help a business track its progress. You need to map out the details of your projects to give you an idea of their value to your business. 

Follow the steps above to better create a program management plan. Good luck!

About the Author

Andre Oentoro is the founder of Breadnbeyond, an award-winning explainer video company. He helps businesses increase conversion rates, close more sales, and get positive ROI from explainer videos (in that order).

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