Programme Governance Model

Copyright © Peter Wheelhouse 2014


Home Page - Overview & Introduction

1.  Scope of the Model.

This model is, at present, solely focused on Programme Governance. Many of the products referenced, & the processes to produce & manage them, are also key products for Programme Management. This is to be expected; the management of a programme must be aligned directly to the governance of the programme.


The main point here is that this model does not cover all the products & processes needed for Programme Management, only those that are directly relevant to proper governance.

2.  Open Source

This model is published on an "open source" basis. That is to say that you, as the reader, are welcome to use any part of the model for your own purposes, whether personal or commercial, adapting the contents for your specific environment & requirements. The only restriction that we place is that the website is not duplicated & fees charged to access the content.


As a courtesy, we trust that you will acknowledge the source of the material when you use any of the collateral contained herein.


As part of this "open source" basis, we invite you to provide feedback and additional content. If you do so, we will review everything that you send & provide our comments back to you. If we incorporate anything that you have sent in a future release, we will include an acknowledgement of your contribution together with your contact details, if you provide them.

3.  Applicability.

This model is geared to stand-alone major high profile business transformation programmes within mature organisations.


For smaller programmes or less mature organisations, it would be tempting to cut down the process steps, to eliminate some of documentation or to slim down the organisation structure. However, to do so will bring increased risk of failure to the enterprise.


For programmes that are within a Portfolio Management framework, some tuning may be required but most of the content will still be applicable except that the role of the Corporate Executive Board will be fulfilled by the Portfolio Board.




The roles defined in this model can be combined (e.g. Programme Sponsor & Programme Director) but the accountabilities & responsibilities of the individual roles that have been combined should be incorporated into the combined role.


Roles defined in the model can be split into separate roles (e.g. The Programme Manager role could be split into 3 separate roles of Quality Manager, Risk Manager & Programme Manager) each with a place on the Programme Executive. Care must be taken to ensure that the Programme Executive does not grow to an unwieldy size & remains sufficient agile to take decisions in a timely manner.


The accountabilities & responsibilities shown for each role in this model define the minimum that I believe is necessary for effective & efficient governance. Your organisation may wish to expand these to meet your specific situation. Please feel free to do so.


Baseline Documentation


The documentation described in this model can be merged or divided to fit with different environment & organisational needs but it is strongly recommended that care is taken not to miss out any of the detail content topics and that a logical development sequence, as illustrated in this model, is followed.


The contents shown in this model for each element of documentation are those that are typical for a major business transformation programme. Your organisation or specific situation may need other things defined in the baseline documentation and it would be perfectly reasonable to modify the templates contained herein. If you decide to remove any of the typical contents from an element of documentation, care should be taken to make sure that it is not needed.


Gateway Cycle


The gateway cycle contained in this model reflect the types of authorisations that should sensibly be applied in a major transformation programme. The assumption is for a programme that has a relatively long timescale (several years) with "Islands of Stability" where significant components of the programme come together for operational deployment. Your organisation may have its own gateway cycle. The most important thing for good governance is that there is a clearly defined gateway cycle that is clearly defined & understood by the management team.


The gates within the cycle should primarily regarded as "Entry" gates rather than "Exit" gates. It is important to validate that the exit criteria have been met for each gate but this is essentially an administrative overhead. Real value add is in validating that the Entry criteria to move on have been met.




This model is offered as a set of guidelines not a mandated collection of rules set in concrete. The contents should be used as a base from which you develop your own sets of rules, processes & procedures.

4.  Sources & Acknowledgements.

The contents of this work are based upon experience gained in managing business change programmes and draws upon bodies of expert knowledge from a wide variety of source published both conventionally and on the Internet.


In particular, material from the following organisations has heavily guided both the management work of the author and the contents of this document:


Any mistakes, errors or omissions are, however, solely the responsibility of the author.


Although I have drawn on the BoKs of CITI, OGC & APM, no assumption should be made that they endorse, or repudiate, the contents of this model. I am solely accountable for the model & its manifestation on this website.


If one scours the published world, as the author has done, to obtain a practical definition of what should be covered in a definition of programme governance, it is difficult to find a single work that covers all that is needed.


There are publications that describe the theory of governance and provide guidance on what needs to be defined under the topic of programme governance. It is also possible to find practical descriptions of specific areas of programme governance.


However, the author failed to find anything which pulls together all of the elements of programme governance into a single entity; it should be noted that this may have been due to failings in the research undertaken by the Author and that there may, in fact, be works which provide detail guidance on programme governance; if this is so, the Author unreservedly apologises for such an oversight.


My views are based on what works from my experience of directly managing major transformation programmes & of providing consultancy services to the same.

5.  Disclaimer.

Any use of this model or any part thereof is at the sole risk of the user. No warranties or guarantees are offered nor can be implied with respect to the model or any of the content on this website.

6.  General Principles.

  1. Programme Scope

    A change programme needs to encompass all relevant and associated transformation initiatives and to have authority over them.


    It is rarely, if ever, possible to effect major change in an organisation through disparate and independent initiatives.


    Although it would be theoretically possible to manage a programme to completion by managing all the delivery activities as dependencies, the complications and risk involved would almost certainly result in a sub optimum conclusion, if not complete failure.


    Ideally, the change programme should have no external dependencies and should have direct control and authority over all relevant delivery agents.


    This is not always practicable and it is sometimes necessary to ‘sub-contract’ parts to external agents; this is often the case with programmes which have a large technology component.


    If it is not possible to bring all dependencies under the direct control of the programme, it is advisable to minimise such external dependencies and to ensure that the delivery agents have a significant stake in the success (or significant pain in the failure) of the programme.


    The programme does not need to include business as usual activities but does need to take cognisance of business as usual commitments and needs.

  3. Purpose of Governance.

    Although the term governance originated to cover the actual process of government, it is used widely in business environments and it is within that context that it is used here.


    The purpose of Good Governance is to provide the environment that facilitates, or even forces, the right decisions to be made by the right people at the right time.


    What "good" and "right" mean will be different for different organisations and circumstances and and may change over time, even for a single organisation.


    For a Western democracy, Good Governance and the Right People are completely different to that for a despotic dictatorship, at least as perceived by those in charge of the government.


    Equally, within a business environment, Good Governance and the Right People will vary according to the circumstances and the specific organisation structure to which the term is being applied.


    However, this is not intended to be a philosophical coverage of governance but a practical guide that can be used and adapted for business initiatives that are organised as "Programmes".


    Governance needs to be aligned to the objectives of the Programme so that the appropriate balance of control and empowerment is in place to optimize the probability of success.

  5. Programmes & Governance.

    There are many different ways in which programmes can, and need to be, organised and governed. This is not intended as a substitute for individual initiatives to define their own governance structures and processes but it does offer a blueprint that can be used and modified as needed for specific situations and environments.


    Change Programmes are about driving change to deliver business benefits. The prime purpose of the governance regime is to ensure the benefits are achieved and to provide the tools to measure performance, direction, and threats to the benefits together with a set of tools to ‘tweak’ the Programme as necessary.


    Thus the governance of a change programme needs to establish and implement the functions, processes and procedures that define how the programme is set up, managed and controlled.


    Change Programmes involve a substantial amount of change for individuals, staff, operations, support services and the business environment. Governance arrangements need to be established to provide a framework for the upheaval and transformation that will take place. Programme governance provides the ‘backdrop’ for all activities of managing the programme and achieving the programme’s outcomes.


    Within a change programme, each sub-programme project and initiative should have its own direction-setting and decision-making processes, with individuals responsible for leading and managing these processes.


    Governance for these ‘chunks’ within the programme needs to be integrated with programme-level governance to ensure they remain aligned to the objectives of the programme. The programme level should focus on dependencies (cross initiative and external) and the risks and issues that may affect the programme as a whole.


    The following principles should be adopted in the governance of change programmes:


    • There should be a single vision, stated as the Programmes desired end-state,
    • The vision is developed and owned by the programme executive team,
    • The vision will be achieved through a consistent approach across all change initiatives,
    • The governance empowers the programme team members and stakeholders to exercise their authority to meet their objectives within a clearly understood and visible framework.