What is program execution?

Program execution is where we drive progress and gain traction.

Without the progress within program execution, a program is just a nice idea, a dream. Effective execution turns ideas into reality.

This is the phase where the program team works to deliver the program as planned or pivot when necessary. This includes coordinating the efforts of the various teams and stakeholders involved in the program and managing risks and issues that may arise.

Program execution is where you'll spend most of your time. The effectiveness of a technical program manager will primarily be viewed by others by how well they can drive the execution of constructed plans.

Inputs and outputs

Let’s look at the inputs and outputs of this phase.


The inputs to execution are a combination of the results from initiation and planning:

  • A program charter to guide you on how to operate as a program team.

  • A program plan to use as your execution roadmap to ensure continual progress.


  • Sustainable program momentum and progress.

  • The ultimate outputs of program execution are the completion of milestones and delivery of outcomes.

Maintaining program momentum

Program execution is where we start to get traction to deliver outcomes. However, there are many things throughout program execution that can either accelerate or stall progress.

When managing a program effectively, you deal with these issues or opportunities to maintain program momentum. Sustainable and maintained program momentum is a visible outcome of your work as the technical program manager.

Maintaining momentum refers to:

  1. Driving progress forward

  2. Keeping the program on track to meet its objectives

  3. Appropriately adjusting the program without losing momentum

As the TPgM, you need to maintain a healthy momentum for the program. Go too slow, and progress will begin to stall. Go too fast, and you'll burn out the program team and stakeholders. Setting a healthy momentum builds trust across the program team.

Program momentum: an analogy

Think of it this way: running a program is similar to running a marathon.

Many long-distance races, like a marathon, include support staff called pacers. These people are not competitors. There could be several pacers in a race. Each pacer will run at different paces: one pacer might run at an 8-minute mile pace, another at a 10-minute mile pace, and another at a 12-minute mile pace. Runners will often follow pacers as a way to stay focused and complete the race at their desired pace. This enables the runners to be challenged to keep up and avoid overexertion. A pacer gives the runners certainty that they will succeed at a specific pace. The pacer is a type of leader.

You are the pacesetter for program execution. How quickly are we moving? How are we ensuring that we are helping the program team avoid burnout? Are we keeping up the necessary momentum to reach our goals?

Using sync vs. async

You can think about managing momentum by thinking about two general categories:

  • Synchronous activities (Sync): These are things that cannot happen in parallel with other things and usually require many people to be involved. These activities cost more in terms of time (a team meeting).

  • Asynchronous activities (Async): These are things that can happen in parallel with other things. These activities cost less in terms of time (a biweekly status report).

Utilizing activities in both these areas will help you maintain program momentum. We'll dive more into this in the "Communication Management" lesson.

Program management skill domains

There will be many things attempting to slow down the momentum of your program.

This is where the program management skill domains come into play. On a daily basis, your core job will be spread across these core skills:

  • Stakeholder management

  • Communication management

  • Staffing and resource management

  • Risk and issue management

  • Dependency management

Get hands-on with 1200+ tech skills courses.