Setting up a Strategic Program is no easy feat and requires buy-in from all levels in the organization. Over-complication and a rush to set up a program office can lead to failure and confusion. By thinking through the process and being properly prepared you can set up a Strategic Program that will truly reach its goals and deliver measurable value to the business.

Involve an extended team

The success of a Strategic Program is dependent upon ownership from the top – down. Without executive buy-in it can be hard to enforce deadlines and require updates from the employees who are leading strategic initiatives. Executives must make it clear that the on-going updates and monitoring of these Programs is essential to making decisions and moving towards their goals. However, it is also important to keep in mind who will be making these updates and invite them to provide ongoing feedback as to how they believe what and how these data points should be captured. This helps to heighten their own sense of ownership and understanding of how their updates impact the Program on a whole. In the end, the goal is to increase dataflow that allows key decision makers to take a pulse on the Program and identify areas of success and weakness.

Set goals, collect artifacts and layout the Program lifecycle

With so many ideas out there and whitepapers describing how a Strategic Program should be set-up, keep in mind what are the goals of your Strategic Program. While there are general guidelines, your Program is unique and so it should be customized to fit the needs of your organization.

Set your goals– what do you want to accomplish and what do you want to deliver. Determining the output of the Program will help guide a top down design focus to make sure core requirements are present.

Collect artifacts (if any)- use your current success as a starting point and learn from what hasn’t worked. By leveraging existing artifacts, you can have a better grasp on terminology and structure already present in your organization.

Layout the Program lifecycle– take a step back and imagine how these initiatives will flow through your Program and how they will evolve from start to finish. Will your Program require formalized stage-gating? Will there be different requirements at the various stages of an initiative’s lifecycle? How is an item deemed as complete or successful?

Don’t over complicate it!

By thinking through what the process looks like and your Program’s deliverables, you should be able to identify what information is essential to an initiative’s success versus what is nice to have. Overcomplicating the process will confuse contributors and impact your overall data quality. Often times, the people providing these updates are managing a much bigger process, so keep what you need of them as clear and straightforward as possible. Layout a clear timeline of tasks and requirements at each stage in the process and provide clear trainings and feedback. Sure, a new Strategic Program might be an opportunity to capture everything- but do you really need everything?

Monitor and Continue to improve

Make a commitment to meet with key contributors on a fixed basis to see how everything is going. Weekly meetings at first could be useful, moving to monthly or quarterly check-ins. Each reporting cycle could be an opportunity to review and enhance- do you need more training? Are things missing? Not useful and can be removed? Use your newfound knowledge to guide you as you continue to finetune your Program in the years to come.

Leverage your Success

Setting up a Strategic Program is no easy feat so why not use the structure you’ve created as the blueprint for any future Strategic Program at your organization. Whether or not you are directly involved in this new venture, the knowledge sharing will be an invaluable part to setting up any future Program. Having a similar structure will also make it easier for team members to move throughout the organization as well as allow for an overarching view of all Strategic Programs active in your organization at the very top- the ultimate goal.

Along with our partners, we’ve jointly delivered hundreds of successful strategic programs. If you’d like more information or to discuss live, please reach out.