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Programme Management Essentials

Programmes exist to deliver improvements in outcomes, and the Programme Board is responsible for ensuring that it delivers.  The Board acts as the key decision-making body for the programme, with responsibility for:

  • monitoring progress - usually via Traffic Light Reports
  • agreeing/quality assuring key products and communications
  • managing programme-level risks
  • managing programme-level issues
  • managing (inter)dependencies between sub-programmes or projects
  • committing (or sourcing from elsewhere) resources to enable the programme’s activities to be successfully achieved

Programme Board meetings should be short, focused, and lead to clear decisions which are immediately recorded, communicated and actioned.

In order for the Board to fulfil its role effectively, it's also important that everyone involved should be clear about what the relevant outcomes, objectives, targets, priorities, resources, risks, stakeholders etc. for the programme are. Each programme should therefore complete and keep up to date a Programme Definition Document, containing the following information:

Strategic Fit

  • Outcomeswhat the programme is aiming to achieve and how this contributes to the Council’s strategic priorities
  • Outcome Measureshow these outcomes will be measured and monitored
  • Outcome Targetsapproved or proposed targets against the outcome measures and relevant timescales
  • Objectives - how the programme will achieve these outcomes
  • Priorities - and how these were identified and approved
  • Programme Structure - how the programme relates to other activites in the Theme and/or Directorate

Portfolio Management

  • Outputs - what the programme is intending to deliver and when
  • Project Portfolio - the projects which will deliver these outputs

 Organisation and Governance

  • Governance - how decisions relating to the programme are made, ensuring that these are in accordance with the Newcastle Charter and protocols for Delegated Decisions
  • Progarmme Board - membership and meeting dates
  • Reports and Approvals - any significant reports and approvals completed to date and required in the future (confirming that they have been included in the relevant Forward Plans)
  • Partnership Arrangements - any significant partnerships involved in delivering the programme and how these are coordinated or managed (including any details of any Memorandum of Understanding in place or needed)
  • Document Management - arrangements for managing information and documents generated and used by the programme, including version control

Resource Planning and Management

  • Financial Resources - required and secured
  • Funding sources - actual or anticipated funding sources
  • Staff resources - including role and FTE
  • Additional resources - any other resources needed
  • Value for money - how the programme will ensure value for money

Consultation and Engagement

  • Stakeholders - internal and external
  • Communications - the communications plan for the programme
  • Member involvement - consultation or input to date and further involvement needed


  • Risks - any significant programme-level risks
  • External links - any significant contribution that this programme will make to other programmes or activities
  • External dependencies - any inputs that this programme will need from other programmes or activities
  • Internal links and dependencies - any significant relationships between the projects within the programme
  • Quality - how the progrmame will ensure that the project outcomes meet the required standard for the intended outcomes to be achieved
  • Reporting - how, where and how often will the programme report progress?