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Program planning

The following article is a sample from the full BVOP™ Ultimate Guide and is part of the preparation for the BVOP™'s modern Agile Certified Project Manager Program.

Considerable program planning activities may include:

  • Prioritizing projects for realization by business value and dependencies
  • Defining the high-level scope of the projects
  • Analyzing and planning resources
  • Projects realizations planning
  • Planning milestones
  • Communication planning
  • Escalations planning
  • Projects release planning

Prioritizing projects for realization by business value and dependencies

Based on projects dependencies and the business value of each project, prioritization of projects is the first needed step before further planning activities are put into action.

Prioritization ensures visibility of which projects are to be implemented first and require planning, investment, and general focus. 

Defining the high-level scope of the projects

The scope of each project needs to be described at a high-level. These descriptions of the scope of each project may be a base for detailed scoping in further or parallel project management activities.

Analyzing and planning resources

The status of the current materials, resources, tools, and people need to be identified.

If the program requires more resources and workforce or additional tools and technologies are needed, these needs are defined and planned for provision.

Projects realizations planning

May include high-level planning of estimated resources and the time needed to complete projects.

Planning milestones

Important events may need to be defined, described and scheduled. Such events may include:

  • Gathering requirements
  • Scope finalizations
  • Approximate start of a project
  • Design phase start and end
  • Development phase start and end
  • Releases of product samples
  • Testing or validations phase start and end
  • Repairing defects phase start and end
  • Acceptances start and end
  • Major Releases
  • Deliveries
  • Marketing campaigns

Planning projects realizations, resources, budget, and milestones should take into account phases that may go beyond predicted time frames such as testing, validating, defects repairing and acceptances. These considerations are valid for both program and project management activities and both program and project management roles may need to plan buffer time between different phases and milestones.

Communication planning

The communication process is exceptionally important during the entire program planning and realization.

Program communication planning may include:

  • Defining communication needs
  • Establishing a communication channel for program and project management
  • Communication needs with other roles of the organization
  • Escalations planning
  • Planning communication needs and channels with external parties

Defining communication needs

Defining communication needs may include:

  • Defining all communication topics like meetings, status reporting, tests, risk discussions, resources, projects release planning and etc.
  • Defining and agreement on the importance level of topics.
  • Agreement on communication frequency and details.

Establishing a communication channel for program and project management

Program management and project management roles may need to discuss, agree and establish their communication channels that may include the physical environment, software or technologies.

Communication needs with other roles of the organization

May include defining and planning communication needs with roles outside of the program and project management offices.

Escalations planning

Emergent issues and incidents may need immediate attention and actions. Escalation planning may include:

  • Defining parties and roles that may be involved in emergent issues.
  • Training parties and roles of the importance of the escalation process.
  • Training parties and roles in proper and fast reacting.
  • Preparation of potentially needed instructions, and references needed for different types of issues.
  • Preparing potentially needed environments, tools, software.

Simulations or potential scenarios may also be conducted if such may be predefined as part of the escalation planning and training.

Planning communication needs and channels with external parties

All external parties interested in the program need to be involved in the communication. Channels and frequency of communication need to be defined and agreed between all parties.

Projects release planning

Projects release planning may include:

  • Defining all roles involved in project releasing and their responsibilities.
  • Defining and describing the steps needed for every project release.
  • Defining resources, materials, and tools needed and planning their provisions.
  • Testing and analyzing the status of current tools, environments, and materials.
  • Notifying all potentially involved parties of the plans, procedures, tools, environments, and materials.
  • Potential training.
  • Preparing all documentation templates that may be needed.
  • Defining and planning post-release needs and activities.
Program planning, Planning milestones, Communication and Projects release planning
BVOP Community Reviews
  1. Bronislaw Adamowicz, BVOP Product Owner

    Program planning is the next logical step after analyzing the dependencies between the projects.

    I would like to add a few words about prioritizing projects according to their business value (excluding dependencies). I want to remind you that business value does not mean financial gain. Or at least not just that. BVOP imposes the idea and emphasizes that business value has many dimensions and includes people and products.

    Consider what will be the benefit to your clients if your project is realized. How will you improve their professional and personal lives? Look for value in potential results. Think beyond financial and marketing analyzes. Try to imagine the life of your clients and users, as well as all the people in your organization. What will be improved and what will change to worse or better?

    The planning of projects and the program according to the business value is truly unique and changing the thinking of people and companies.

Comments of our guests
  1. Donovan Thomas
    Thanks for the post. In my previous comment, I wrote that analyzing project dependencies is a very important part of planning the program and all the projects that will be delivered. One advice from me. When planning milestones and a new release, always check that a project does not depend on another. Recall your dependencies. Something may surprise you at the last minute.
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