What is Programme Management?

Date: 04/06/2024| Category: Programme Management| Tags:

For the majority of enterprises managing change is the hardest challenge, and in a fast-paced and fast changing environment, the challenge is constantly increasing.
Organisations are dealing with change in different ways: some of them own a well-defined strategy to proactively deal with change, whereas some others do not have a strategic vision and only react to change (competition, development, innovation).

Programme Management: Definition

The scope of a programme is the coordination of all activities involved in a change initiative according to the company strategy. A successful programme enhances change by managing, controlling and coordinating projects that share the same objectives in terms of results and benefits.

Change is achieved through projects but Programme Management and Project Management are well distinguished. A programme includes projects enacted in different business areas, it can be a standalone programme or it can be part of a portfolio. Thus, thinking about a programme as a huge project is misleading.

Two fundamental characteristics of a programme are:

  • It has to fulfil one or more strategic objectives
  • It is change oriented, once change happens the programme is to be considered closed.

The difference between a project and a programme is not in the length: the key concept is that a project is focused on delivering a specific output while a programme may deliver ongoing outcomes and business benefits.

Programme Management: Implementation

In Axelos’ words Programme Management “exists to coordinate, direct and oversee implementation of a set of interrelated projects”. Both in Project and Programme Management the planning of the workload and tasks is essential, but in Programme Management planning is tied up with the business strategy more than being dependent on specific results (deliverables) as happens in Project Management. Moreover, Programme Management implicates all departments of the involved business areas. When change ends, the involved business areas will find themselves in a situation with a new “business as usual” (BAU) which is expected to generate benefits in contrast to previous BAU.

Programme Management: Importance for the Business?

The majority of modern and structured organisations use project management methodologies but project management alone isn’t always sufficient. Programme Management is necessary to deal with complex and extended changes, because projects with larger scope have higher risks and complexity.
An organisation can manage several projects at a time. For complex changes there could be several projects active for a long period of time. In cases like these, it gets harder and harder to manage them by utilising only project management tools. Moreover, projects usually have a short length and the project team starts working on a new project once the final output is delivered. Therefore, project teams do not always look after the benefits realisation or that the output is delivered correctly to operation teams. The inner nature of the project is focusing on the results and not on medium-long term benefits.


The pivotal importance of programme management is on maintaining visibility and control on several projects.
Thanks to programme management and project management, the organisation can count on a set of skills capable of ensuring a concrete return on investment of their change initiatives.
The role of the programme management and, of course, of the programme manager is pivotal for modern organisations which have to be well aware about the risks and impact that big projects can have on their business.

If you want to learn more about how to successfully manage programmes, read our blog on “What is MSP?”, the globally recognised framework for best practice programme management.

QRP International is an ATO (Accredited Training Organisation) for MSP (Managing Successful Programmes). Check all the available courses here. For more information contact us!

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