Strategic Context of a Programme – A Quick Guide

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Programmes don’t exist in a vacuum. They’re part of a much bigger organisational picture, and it’s this bigger picture that helps to define the programme objectives.

What drives the programme strategy and how can we make sure the programme is contributing to the high-level strategic objectives? To answer these questions, let’s first understand where our corporate strategy comes from and how it defines the programme objectives.

All organisations need a high-level corporate strategy that defines how they will meet their customer needs. To maintain their competitive advantage, businesses scan and monitor the external and internal environment for drivers that influence and shape the strategic objectives for the whole business. These strategic objectives are then pivotal in defining the portfolios that will deliver them.

Each portfolio can include a number of programmes, projects, and business as usual activities. Each of these would be clearly contributing in some way to the overall strategic objectives for the portfolio, which in turn helps our organisation deliver its corporate strategy.

For example, a car manufacturer is facing increased external pressure from customers to produce more eco-friendly cars. They’ve defined as part of their corporate strategy that within 10 years, they will no longer manufacture cars that run on fossil fuels. They have commissioned a portfolio to design a range of cars that run sustainably and phase out manufacturing fossil fuel cars. The portfolio will consist of two or more programmes. One will look at the development of a new range of cars with alternative power sources. Another will look at improving the current manufacturing processes to meet eco standards before phasing these out. Both of these programmes will consist of a number of projects to deliver the objectives of the programme. So for example, one project will be to design a range of new cars with alternative technology, and another to put in place the production line to deliver the new car designs. While these programmes are delivering the corporate changes, the car manufacturer must continue with their day-to-day business as usual activities and keep delivering cars to their customers.

As you can see, each project, programme, and portfolio is focused on achieving the overall corporate strategy and before starting any of these initiatives, the alignment will be checked as part of the overall business justification. This way, your organisation will consistently and effectively realise their strategic objectives.

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