Driving Clarity at the Program Level

Learn about program management, scope, impact, and boundary definition to ensure clarity.

We'll cover the following

Now let's discuss in more depth how to manage a program. As discussed earlier in this course, program management builds on the foundations of project management and utilizes the same key management areas. However, there are some differences, due to the larger scope and broader impact that a program has compared to a project within it, so both of these concepts play a substantial role in defining the differences in management techniques for each.

We’ll explore the following aspects of how to manage a program:

  • Driving clarity at the program level

  • Deciding when to build a program

  • Tracking a program

Let’s begin!


In order to drive clarity at the program level, we need to understand what sets a program apart from a project: scope and impact. Let’s look at what each of these means in the context of program management:

  • Scope: The scope of a program or project is the set of requirements that will be met by the goals. It’s easy to dismiss this as being the same as the full set of requirements that are given, but that isn’t always the case. Going back to the project management triangle, both time and resources can impact the scope. It is a negotiation process between the TPM and the stakeholders as to what the right balance is going to be. Other factors, such as technical feasibility, may also hinder the ability to meet a requirement. This is especially true in cases where those setting the requirements are not technically inclined; they may ask for a feature that sounds feasible but is not something that can be achieved.

  • Impact: This refers to the set of stakeholders and systems that are affected by achieving the goals of the program or project. Every service, application, or device that the scope will involve is affected by the changes. Going beyond that, any client of those same systems is also affected and must be considered when making the changes. These clients may be internal as well as external, such as users.

The figure below uses the Mercury program to illustrate where the scope and impact exist.

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