Program Life Cycle Management: An Overview

A program is made up of multiple related projects and its success is determined by the success of its individual projects.

Managing a program involves going through several phases of transformation, each allowing the program to progress until it reaches completion. The program lifecycle is similar to the project management lifecycle.

However, while program management focuses on achieving results and benefits for the organization, project management focuses on delivering products on schedule and achieving customer satisfaction.

In the next section of the program lifecycle management tutorial, we will delve into the specific attributes of the program lifecycle.

Program Life Cycle Attributes

The program life cycle mainly focuses on the following three main attributes:

  • Stakeholders of the Program
  • Benefits acquired from the Program (the deliverables)
  • Rules governing the development of the program lifecycle

Program Life Cycle Management Overview

The program officially begins when funding is approved or a program manager is appointed, typically during the formulation phase.

Programs go through three main phases: program definition, benefits delivery, and closure. The program manager is responsible for coordinating the activities of the program and its components throughout the different phases of the lifecycle.

It is important to understand the phases and typical activities in each phase as it informs the responsibilities of the program manager.

To learn more about the process groups involved in the program management lifecycle, refer to the Process Groups document in the “Additional Reading” section. In the next section, we will discuss the life cycle phases in more detail, starting with program definition.

Program by Definition

As the name implies, program definition involves defining the purpose, goals, and approach of the program. In this phase, two main activities are performed, which are further detailed in sub-phases.

The first activity is outlining the business case and desired outcomes and translating them into the program’s strategic objectives. The second activity is creating a high-level plan to achieve these objectives.

The key output of the program definition phase is the program management plan. The program definition phase is divided into two sub-phases: program formulation and program preparation.

We will discuss these phases in more detail in the next section of the program lifecycle management tutorial.

Program Formulation and Preparation

Now let’s examine the two sub-phases of program definition in more detail. As previously mentioned, a program goes through multiple phases during its lifespan.

In program lifecycle management, a phase is a designated time frame in which a series of events and activities take place as part of the program’s development.

There are five main phases that are crucial for the program’s success

  1. Conceptualization Phase
  2. Set up Phase
  3. Construction Phase (Building Program Management and Technical Infrastructure Teams)
  4. Implementation Phase
  5. Closure Phase

In the next section of the program lifecycle management tutorial, we will discuss the Conceptualization Phase.

1. Conceptualization Phase

This phase establishes the program’s objectives and goals, which are fully supported and approved by the executive committee, stakeholders, and the portfolio management committee.

Before approving the program, the board, composed of executive and stakeholder members, conducts a selection process by creating a mandate to evaluate the pros and cons of implementing the program within the organization.

The program mandate, also known as the program brief, includes the minimum objectives of the program, the benefits it provides, and how the program aligns with the organization’s strategic goals.

The key elements involved in selecting and initiating a program include

1. The program’s objectives that align with the company’s long-term strategic goals

2. An analysis of the risks involved in implementing the program

3. Resource management in terms of funds, personnel, and technology

4. Budget estimation for launching the program

5. Benefits to the organization.

The discussion of the conceptualization phase will continue in the next section of the program lifecycle management tutorial.

2. Set Up Phase

The set up phase is the second sub-phase of the program definition phase, and it is dedicated to establishing the organizational structure, governance and processes, and the resources needed for the program.

In this phase, the program management team is formed, and the roles and responsibilities of each team member are defined.

The program manager is responsible for recruiting and assembling the team, and creating a clear and effective organizational structure.

This includes defining the lines of communication, decision-making processes, and the relationships between the program management team, the project teams, and the stakeholders.

The program management plan is also developed in this phase, which outlines the program’s objectives, scope, deliverables, timelines, and budget.

The plan also includes the risks and issues that need to be managed, the governance and control processes, and the monitoring and reporting mechanisms.

3. Construction Phase

The construction phase is a critical phase in program lifecycle management as it establishes the program management and technical teams and the rules and regulations that govern the program.

The program managers, project managers, and team members strictly adhere to these rules and regulations to consistently perform their duties and achieve the program’s objectives.

The program manager uses various organizational tools to track activities and manage the program. Some commonly used software include program and project tracking software, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, expense reporting software, and time reporting software.

We will continue discussing the construction phase in the next section of the program lifecycle management tutorial.

4. Implementation Phase

The implementation phase is where the program begins delivering its objectives and benefits. The program management team, project teams, and stakeholders work together to execute the plan and deliver the required outcomes, monitor progress, mitigate issues and risks.

The program manager is responsible for managing the program’s budget, resources, timelines, and ensuring that program stays on track and within budget.

The phase concludes when all deliverables are completed and program objectives and benefits are realized. It may last from a few months to several years depending on the size and complexity of the program.

5. Closure Phase

The closure phase is the final phase of the program lifecycle management, it marks the end of the program.

The program management team, project teams and stakeholders are involved in this phase, final activities like closing out contracts, completing final reports and documenting lessons learned are performed.

The team ensures that deliverables are accepted and program objectives and benefits have been met. Financial records are closed and any remaining funds are allocated or returned. Equipment and resources are returned or reassigned.

The program is evaluated in terms of performance against original objectives and any lessons learned are documented.

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