Assembling the Core Program Team

Learn how to assemble your core program team and classify other related stakeholders.

Who is the core program team?

Getting the necessary stakeholders involved early on accelerates the initial velocity of your program.

Your first focus in program initiation is to assemble the 1st-degree stakeholders and the core program team. This team will own most of the engineering and product decisions.

One of the most important, straightforward things to remember: not all stakeholders are the same.

We'll explore stakeholder management in a future lesson, but during the initiation phase of a program, it is essential that you:

  • Partner with the executive sponsor. It may not be an actual executive, but this person takes primary accountability for the program's outcomes. This is often the person who initiated the program.

  • Partner with engineering leads. Early partnership with engineering is necessary. There is likely a small group of engineering teams that will be core contributors to the program. Begin building relationships with the managers of these teams at the earliest opportunity.

  • Partner with product leads. Product managers help connect the program to the customers or the expected outcomes. There should be at least one primary product representative to assist in roadmap creation and help the program team know how to measure success.

  • Identify other necessary domain experts. Often, you'll need input from many other teams, like design, impacted engineering teams, lawyers, HR, sales, cyber security, and data privacy.

  • Document stakeholders by degree. The initial list of stakeholders may or may not be easy to come by. In the initiation phase, you should prioritize finding the 1st-degree and some critical 2nd-degree stakeholders.

The first three steps in the list above start with the words "Partner with." This means you begin conversations with them during the initiation phase, not after.

The final two are more focused on identification and documentation. Figure out who you'll need to make this program successful, but you'll start building those relationships in program planning and execution.

Keep track of this list of stakeholders. You'll need it when you schedule the program kick-off meeting.

Stakeholders by degree

As a technical program manager, you are the glue connecting many cross-functional organizations and teams. This reality should highlight the importance of your role in stakeholder management.

Some stakeholders will make frequent contributions during execution, and some will merely want to be informed. Think about stakeholders in terms of degrees of separation.

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