The Folio PartnershipOpen Business Consulting

When To Use It

Programmes and Projects

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!

Programme Project
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.

The Five Case Model in a Programme Context