A3 ProgramStep™ Process Model

There are many different models for managing programs. Although most of the fundamental information is similar, they all have unique ways to organize the program management work, as well as unique roles, terms and philosophies. There are a number of key points to the ProgramStep Process Model.

Overall ProgramStep Model (A3.P1)

  • Initiate

  • The ProgramStep process assumes that are managing a program. You can validate this by referring to the first step of Program Initiation - 0.1.1 Determine if the Work is a Project or Program. If it turns out that you have a project instead of a program, you can refer to the TenStep® Project Management Process for information on project management. If you have a program you can finish the Initiation work to establish a financial framework.

  • Plan

  • You then proceed to Program Planning. The work for planning the program includes:

    • Defining the program

    • Building the program schedule

    • Building the program budget

    After you have completed this work you gain approval for all of your major deliverables. This will include the Program Charter and Program Management Plan.

  • Manage

  • The program is then ready to proceed to execution. For a program this means that the underlying projects are approved to start as defined in the Program Work Breakdown Structure. While the projects are executing the program manager manages the overall program. This includes the following.

    • Manage schedule

    • Manage budget

    • Manage issues

    • Manage scope

    • Manage communication

    • Manage risk

    • Manage procurement

    • Manage stakeholders

    • Manage governance

The program management processes continue as long as there are projects executing within the program

  • Close

  • At some points the projects within the program will all be completed. At that point the program will come to a formal close.

The "Steps" do not Imply a Sequential Order (A3.P2)

ProgramStep contains four major program management phases.

  • Initiate

  • Plan

  • Manage

  • Close

It is important to recognize that the “steps” of the ProgramStep process do not imply a sequential progression. It is true the program management phases (Initiate, Plan, Manage and Close) do imply an initial sequence. So steps 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 are generally executed first, followed by the rest. However, the work in steps 4.0 through 14.0 is done in parallel. This means that a program manager will be managing the schedule (step 4.0), managing scope (step 7.0), managing procurement (step 12.0), etc., all through the program.

The Processes Are Reoccurring (A3.P3)

Even though the Initiate and Plan process phases come first, this does not imply they are executed only once. Some of these processes may be re-visited as needed throughout the program. For example, you might create a Communications Management Plan during the initial Planning Phase. However, later in the program you may realize that the plan is insufficient. This will require you to go back to the Planning Phase to update this document. Just because the program was planned once does not mean that the initial plan will carry through for the entire program. It is likely that many aspects of the initial Planning Phase will need to be revised as the program progresses. Similarly the Initiate Phase may need to be revisited as well.

Project Management is Different Within a Program (A3.P4)

The TenStep® Project Management Process is a full methodology for managing work as a project. You might think that the TenStep process would still apply to projects within a program. In fact, most of the approach and guidance for managing projects within a program is the same. However, there are some differences.

Managing scope is a good example. On a project, the approval of scope changes is within the control of the project sponsor. However, in a program the projects are interconnected. A scope change on one project may have an impact on other projects within the program. Therefore changes to project scope cannot be made at the local project level. Instead the scope change needs to be identified at the project level, but raised to the program level for approval. The program level better understands the impact of the scope change across the program.

For each section of the ProgramStep process, there is a sub-section (X.3) that will provide guidance on any differences between managing independent projects and managing projects within a program.  

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