In our work with many clients from across the public sector, a recurring problem is the failure to differentiate between programmes and projects. This was also identified as one of the common causes for project failure in a major study undertaken by the Office of Government Commerce and the National Audit Office. (See useful links). All too often business case developers and project teams are attempting to write a business case for a project that in reality comprises multiple complimentary schemes – a programme. Imagine writing a single business case for the Olympics!
|Focus on the achievement of outcomes and the realisation of benefits
|Focus generally on delivery of outputs
|Recognise intended end-state but path not clear
|Defined start and end points
|Typically longer timescale (5 – 10 years)
|Shorter timescale (1 – 5 years)
|Many aspects uncertain at the outset
|All aspects clearly defined e.g. SMART objectives
|Portfolio of coordinated projects and an overall programme management approach
|Clearly defined in most aspects and managed as a project
The Five Case Model structure and approach works equally well for a programme but requires a different focus within each case.