What is a program? and how can you tell it from a project? This video discusses the five most common characteristics of programs that will identify whether you have a program or project. Once you know it is a program, you will need to define it and plan it based on benefits to be realized. Missing the point and managing programs like projects could result in failure and disappointment to your sponsor. Program Management has its own best practices based on performance domains that are needed in order to ensure a successful program outcome.
Hello my name is Edward Shehab today I want to talk to you about programs and how different they are from projects a lot of people work on different initiatives some are large some small and they’re not really sure if these are programs or projects now you may be wondering you know what difference does it make does it make any difference if this was a program or a project in reality it does because projects are planned the way we’ve been trained to plan them we identified we start with the project Charter identify stakeholders collect requirements and then you go and develop the scope to schedule the budget now programs are a little bit different they’re actually defined in terms of the outcome so let me just expand on what projects are and then we’ll talk about what programs are so projects these are one-off you know they deliver a product service or result an example would be what you see here it’s a house so you build a house and you hand it over and it’s done the profit or the gain from this property isn’t really your responsibility as a as a project manager you just hand it over to it whoever asked for it or it could just be yours so you see that projects aren’t really focused on profits that profit is really the operational aspect of it programs on the other hand there are much larger and they have multiple components and they are there to deliver a benefit so a benefit that would probably happen over time they’re not you know something that you get the total outcome at the time of handover so if I build a house and I hand it over to you that doesn’t guarantee that you have anything to gain programs I’ll give you some examples they could be like large oil and gas production programs for example I want to be able to have a throughput of that many barrels per year or for a month the program could also be some like beating plastic pollution program there is no one project that you can work on that will beat plastic pollution you’re probably all aware that to be plastic pollution there’s gotta be some legal aspects where laws are instituted and then there’s gonna be some engineering aspects some change of habits for people some may be retail related like restrictions where they’re not allowed to use that plastic as well as cleanup processes or cleanup initiatives that need to be implemented so you can see that there’s a lot of parts to this it’s not just one product that you have to deliver what about if you had a program for senior support so for example the seniors in your community you want to keep them healthy you want them to have activities you want to provide nursing care you want to provide you know a partner someone that could you know take them out for a walk or keep them busy maybe some you know work-related stuff where they can still contribute to society minimum amount of work so there could be some programs instituted and it’s never going to be just one thing that you handle when you say here’s your senior support item there’s no such thing all right now it could also be a large IT role as for example the rollout of 5g that’s a program that’s going to take a lot more than just one project it’s going to be number one regulations adoption of this new technology changes in engineering maybe multiple ports or satellites or whatever 5g takes for it to happen and then has to be adopted by retailers like AT&T and you know other local providers telecom providers then there’s the hardware that needs to happen so it’s going to require lots of pieces and parts for 5g to actually be rolled out so what if you’ve been assigned a task and you’re not really sure if you have a program or project what I have here is a checklist of five different characteristics that you could look at that will tell you that something is more likely a program and here they are number one programs are defined in terms of benefits let’s think about the pollution program right if you’re trying to reduce the use of plastic this is not going to happen by you know devising one machine and hand it over this is going to be a lot of legal work change of habits change in ways that companies produce products how they package them new engineering that needs to come into play and enforcement by legal authority so if you look at all these pieces they tend to give you a benefit but it’s not going to be immediate the day I hand over all of the pieces and say here I have all of the components ready for you they don’t immediately give you an outcome you need to wait a year two or more to start to see these benefits so we say that the benefits don’t happen immediately they happen over time number two programs have a longer duration they tend to last for several years projects tend to end in about a year year and a half to two years programs can last like five ten years a charity program that we set up could go forever as long as the program can be supported it can go on and on an educational program can go on forever any programs that are beneficial may be awareness you know when this program at work or work-life balance program if that’s successful that program can last you know can last for many years or programs tend to last for a much longer time than projects but they do end at some point number three programs are made up of two or more major project components so a project in itself would not have underlying projects yes you can outsource pieces of a house to subcontractors but the pieces are not usable on their own like you don’t use the plumbing on its own it does not exist unless the house actually exists electrical work doesn’t exist on its own and survive unless you had a house where the electrical work is going but programs have separate pieces that live on their own so for example for the pollution example if we set the rules or the laws regulations these can suffice on their own but and also the engineering aspects if we do them alone and we come up with a new material that is used instead of plastic that can survive on its own and can give some benefits so their composure of a program can give you benefits on their own but the combination of all of the components is what gives you the total benefits of that one program now you may ask what if I don’t design the program correctly what if there are pieces of this program that are missing well if we leave out any piece of the program the program will still be partially successful it would still hand over something usable think in terms of this pollution program right what if all we do is set laws and regulations we will get a reduction in use of plastic what if all we do is clean off the oceans we also get a benefit but it is better if we can change the habits of people if we can get companies to develop new material that is biodegradable and add those components to it so that the more the components are designed to have a complete solution the better the outcomes would be over time but the outcomes definitely would not happen immediately they happen over time but you’ll get more results if you have off the components in well what if you’re not getting the results that you want can you change the scope yes you can in a program you can easily change the scope you can cancel initiatives projects at operational activities in order to get better results so if this pollution program for example does not give us the results that we’re looking for we can easily add additional initiatives and then really measure at the end of another year and then check therefore again the results that we’re looking for so that’s what programs are and that’s that’s how different they are from projects if you have an initiative on hand just check it across these five characteristics and if you see that it matches these characteristics you may want to look into how to define it better programs are defined a lot differently from projects they have a business case although projects would have the business case programs rely heavily on the business case they have a road map you know maybe like a vision plan of what you can expect over time but most importantly is that they have the benefits defined as a game over time or decrease over time that the organization that started the program fields are strategically important that’s quite different from projects that don’t really have anything associated other than what the deliverable should look like hope this was beneficial and helped you understand difference between programs and projects I do have additional videos on programs and projects please feel free to go check them out if you like this video please give me a thumbs up like it if you think others could benefit from it share it and if you haven’t subscribed please subscribe and hit the notification button so you’ll be notified when I have additional videos thank you for watching and hope to see you on the next video bye bye