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Quick Tips For Setting-Up and Running Strategic Programmes

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Businesses are constantly setting-up and running programmes in order to encourage growth and address issues, whether that be: solving company crises; meeting the changing needs of clients, or even implementing new and innovative technologies. 

However, despite a prevalent need for innovative programmes, many companies fail to get these initiatives off the ground. The cause of why this might happen varies with every business. It may often seem that a programme lacks good leadership. However, over time I have noticed that a failed implementation can also be caused by the absence of certain critical stages.
In this blog, we’ll explore 5 of the many quick tips available, that will help you to set-up and monitor a successful programme.

Problem Statement/Opportunity Statement
To resolve an underlying problem or identify the potential of a new opportunity, it is essential that project teams and stakeholders collaboratively document the initiative. A problem statement will allow you to determine how to move forward, outlining what the problem or opportunity is, as well as how you might go about achieving a solution. 

When creating a problem statement, make sure to: 

  1. Specify what exactly will be worked on;
  2. Identify what the challenge/opportunity is;
  3. Include information on competing companies, products, finances or technology (the more data that you provide, the clearer your next step of action will be);
  4. Evaluate the data to see what insights you can gain. 

From an executive’s viewpoint, a programme needs to meet specific objectives. A programme must be focused or centred around the company’s objectives, have challenging targets that cannot be achieved during business as usual, and create results that are measurable and make a noticeable impact. To meet these specific requirements, it is crucial that you workshop the problem statement with the leadership team. Doing so will ensure that the problem statement is well defined and that all questions are addressed.

Define the Programme Structure and Organisation
A single business unit is more than capable of implementing business programmes. However, a programme may also require collaboration between multiple units – utilising talent from a range of different sites, cultures and time zones. Once you have documented the problem or opportunity that you would like to address, it is time to build a structure that will support the programme and encourage communication within the unit/s. 

You can start building your programme structure by defining who will be involved and designating particular roles, which includes identifying decision-making authorities. This action will help to establish a clear process, avoiding mistakes and confusion, as well as ensuring that the right people are making decisions.

At this stage, it is also important to consider programme office resourcing – how will you support the coordination of works? And if applicable, what CRM or ERP systems can you implement? How can you utilise AI and automation to cut out any unnecessary steps ?
As you are all working to contribute to business objectives, there will inevitably be an overlap of resources. Consequently, it is vital that you plan accordingly to ensure the business doesn’t lose essential resources. Having a project board consisting of responsible senior managers helps with this.

Clarify Goals and Objectives
Strategic corporate goals will define critical milestones and achievements in your organisational strategy. These goals will also help you to identify what you’re working towards, not only as a programme, but as an organisation as well. 

The most effective way of identifying and defining your goals or objectives is through SMART Goals, which I touched briefly upon, here. Although SMART goals may seem like a simple technique, utilising this method ensures that every strategic corporate goal you set is both realistic and achievable. 
Setting metrics in place is also key if you want to be able to measure the programme’s progress and your team’s performance. Metrics are an essential part of any business and trigger behaviours that will drive a business forward towards their goals and aspirations.

The final step of establishing goals and objectives is to ensure that (a) the team understands any goals set in place as clearly as the leadership team does, and (b) that they agree with it. It is a popular belief that this issue will get resolved as time progresses. However, the reality is that it doesn’t, meaning that adopting this method can often lead to other complications. 
Investing time, early, to clarify goals and fully engage team members will pay off in the long run and will help you to avoid any miscommunication.

Establish Governance Framework
The success of your programme relies upon the notion that the setting of SMART goals that you have set in place can and will be met.
As the programme progresses, it is vital that you track overall performance and perform status checks. Doing so will help you to identify how every decision and action is contributing to the goals and objectives that are needed for a successful outcome. 

Ask yourself, are the initiatives delivering the results? If not, what needs to be tweaked? And when you have found your answers, you will need to adjust actions and review cycles accordingly. 
Governing a programme may also include providing guidance and coaching to team members as required – supporting the talent is vital to the success of the initiative.

In some circumstances, however, it may be best to call out for additional support where needed. There may be gaps in your team’s knowledge or skills, and it’s essential to address these issues if you want to avoid any potential problems. The earlier you train your team and ask for assistance, the more successful you will be.

Communicate Often
“Communication must be HOT! That’s Honest, Open, and Two-way.” – Dan Oswald.
It is imperative that you launch communications as soon as the programme begins, utilising your ERP system or CRM and innovative technologies, as well as consistent meetings. With these tools set-in place, contact will be more proactive and consistent, throughout.

However, this communication needs to be transparent if you want to build trust, not only with your team but with the company’s investors and stakeholders too. You can build-upon the trust of your stakeholders by continuing to provide them with the correct level of information they require, whether that be with reports, progress updates or regular meetings. Doing so will keep stakeholders engaged and well informed.

Although communication with stakeholders and the leadership team is vital, you should never underestimate the benefits of receiving feedback from the ground up. Customer-facing staff, in particular, can offer valuable insights (such as consumer preferences and feedback) that may otherwise have not been available to you.

There are many more factors to consider when planning and implementing a programme, such as the number of initiatives to keep open. However, I wanted us to focus on less-talked-about items. Ultimately, looking back at the insights I have gained while working with fellow business leaders, it is clear that all projects are only as good as the people behind it. In any case, following these steps is a sure way of ensuring that the people within your team and the decisions that you make will lead your business to success.

Would you recommend any more steps that might help a business successfully launch a programme? What do you find most challenging about implementing a plan, and how do you like to overcome these hurdles?

Shivendra is a highly regarded inspirational leader, well known for his collaborative work with businesses. With over 12 years of leadership experience working for reputable organisations such as Siemens and the Downer Group, Shivendra is equipped with best-in-class practices that will transform your business and deliver high impact outcomes. For more information, visit