In the same way we use project milestones to manage projects, we use program milestones to manage programs. Different organizations will have different program governance in place and therefore use different program milestones for their programs, but the milestones I want to look at today are those defined by the PMI, which map relatively easily to the milestones I’ve seen in use within different organisations. The program lifecycle defined by the PMI is shown below:
From the diagram above we can see that the program lifecycle consists of 5 key milestones (or gates), and thus 5 key phases which happen before each gate:
Let’s look at each of these phases in turn, to see at a high-level what they entail.
The main objective of this phase is to establish a firm foundation of support and approval for the program. This will include the following activities:
At this stage the program has received “approval in principle” and we can move to set-up the program. During this stage we should:
This phase establishes the infrastructure that will support the program and its constituent projects as they deliver the expected benefits of the program. This will include the following:
This is where most of the work gets done. In this phase we initiate the projects which comprise the program and deliver the incremental benefits. Key activities in this phase include:
In this phase we shutdown the program in a controlled manner. This includes the following key tasks:
We use milestones within the program governance to ensure we are where we need to be as the program is executed. It would be possible to write much more about each specific stage, but I hope this has given you enough of a flavour of each stage to enable you to apply this within your own organization.
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