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An integrated program plan is what a manager needs to successfully coordinate a complex program with multiple phases or underlying projects. Once developed, the program plan requires constant updating so that the ones in charge can accurately communicate the work status to clients and executives at all times.
Creating a clean, accurate high-level program plan can be difficult, but it will help professionals and non-project audiences alike to view the complete picture of the program, how it is structured, and how the different sub-teams contribute to its execution.
To help you better understand how program plans are effectively conceived and properly put to use, we’ve answered here to the most frequently asked questions on the topic and also included a professionally-designed program timeline template that can be easily customized into your very own visual.
A program management plan, or simply called program plan is an essential tool for any manager that deals with a collection of correlated projects as it enables them to co-manage, execute and track all the component initiatives in a successful manner.
Unlike a project plan (which is directed at producing a final deliverable for one main project), a program plan focuses on creating benefits to the organization with synergy resulted from the co-management of multiple projects.
To sum up, while a project plan outlines the roadmap to delivering a product or a service, a program plan helps to collectively manage multiple projects to get benefits that cannot be achieved individually.
Since a program plan defines the process by which a program is conceived and brought to fruition, here are the main steps to take in order to create an effective one:
If you want to learn how to make a timeline for various types of projects using office tools like PowerPoint or Microsoft Excel, please check out our step-by-step tutorials.
Here is a checklist of the essential data items that should be included in a well-crafted and coherent program plan:
The professionally-designed program timeline template included here was created to help program planners and managers to:
Managers and coordinators who wish to simplify the planning process can use the free program plan template, which is a downloadable native PowerPoint slide designed to be easy to understand and update. The template was built as a timeline visually split into blocks or stages, and it links the planned activities directly to the program’s deliverables or milestones. Such a layout enables managers to create a roadmap through the program and provide logical break points for review, decision-making, and team alignment.
Effective internal, cross-team and external communication is key for the successful execution of a program. Each project within a program has its own plan to outline goals, tasks and deliverables, and program managers need to integrate all individual plans based on shared dependencies. By communicating often and constantly reviewing the program plan, teams can identify potential problems, prevent conflicts, and get a clear picture of the whole process.
Built for PowerPoint, the program plan template can help communicate essential data through a simple, familiar channel that both functional teams and non-project audiences are comfortable with. The graphic can be updated and shared by anyone who has Microsoft PowerPoint installed. This means that teams can collaborate on the plan and maintain the timeline, while clients and executives can open and review it at a glance.
The graphic can be customized manually, changing texts, colors and shapes just as with any other slide, or it can be edited automatically with the free Office Timeline plugin for PowerPoint. The add-in is a light and intuitive planning tool designed for professionals who need to create high-level Gantt charts and timelines quickly. Using the Pro+ Edition’s import, refresh and sharing functions, program managers and teams can work together on revising the program plan to have it ready for important communications as fast and as often as needed.
Use the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in to quickly update any of these timeline templates or create your own project visuals. Easily change the texts, dates, colors, shapes and styles of your timeline, right from inside PowerPoint.