6 Tips for Building Large and Complex Programmes

6 Tips for Building Large and Complex Programmes

With the gap between IT and “The Business” being virtually non-existent and the pace of technical change increasing, building efficient and dynamic programmes of change activity is becoming more and more important. Leadership teams, stakeholders and internal customers are becoming more demanding, expecting corporate change to reflect their tech experience at home whilst on cloud supported mobile devices. All of this makes early planning complex and equally crucially important to get right. To help programme managers and business leaders with shaping and building large and complex programmes, CCM have identified some key considerations to help with organising and scoping:

1. Understand your objectives & scale back where you can

Statistically smaller change initiatives have a greater likelihood of success than larger ones. Economies of scale do exist but can also act as a drag on delivery and increase the risk of delay in realising key business benefits.

2. Be comfortable with iteration

Knowing everything and how you’ll approach everything before you start is a great aspiration, but unrealistic. Achieving this comes at the cost of lengthy delays whilst you build up understanding and create detailed long-range plans. There’s a level of wasted effort in trying to know too much early on. Reach a point where you know enough to get started and use your risk and change control processes to manage gaps in knowledge. Create well publicised “Last Responsible Moment” (LRM) milestones and decision gateways and show these in the high level plan to demonstrate to management and stakeholders that decision-making continues through the lifecycle.

3. Plan for a marathon not a sprint

Large programmes require investment of time, money and resource, and therefore thought should be given to creating a robust team, strong governance and essential stakeholder management processes. Whilst early planning should align with the business strategy so should planning throughout the project. Maintaining alignment and buy-in is a constant area of focus for the programme’s management team.

4. Building the right team

Straightforward task management processes will not be sufficient for the added complexities of a large programme. Organise the management team by assigning the following responsibilities:

  • Programme Management
  • Technology Management
  • Risk Management
  • Change Management
  • Business Analysis
  • PMO

Finally, at task management level and reporting into the management team are the project managers, who will deliver projects and workstreams.

5. Strong sponsorship and management buy-in

Leadership is key. The business environment will have competing strategic and operational priorities meaning multiple activities that will touch, conflict or otherwise interface with the programme. The sponsor should be sufficiently empowered and sufficiently engaged to provide direction on “key” risks and issues resulting from the wider business environment. Look at the structure of the governance model – will it manage stresses from the business, can it handle escalations efficiently, are the right people in the right roles?

6. Create a solid business case and strategic plan

Build a clear business case with defined outcomes and benefits. Obtain sign-off from all impacted parts of the business and keep in mind the longevity of the programme that the business case is governing. Build a high level plan showing links to business strategy and bake this view into management and stakeholder communication as a reminder of the high level direction of the programme.

Building large and complex programmes – where to find out more

If you’d like to know more about building a successful programme, please get in touch with us, we can help with building large and complex programmes.

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