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Spending proposals are often described incorrectly as ‘projects’ when they should probably be ‘programmes’.  Similarly, programmes often incorrectly describe organisational groupings rather than how a programme would be described in a business case context as ‘a collection of inter-related projects’.

Programmes should be supported with a Programme Business Case (PBC) and subordinate project business cases.

The programme should be part of a much wider consideration of needs in the round, which in itself may be part of an even wider consideration of other policy areas.  These issues might be considered in strategy documents backed up by feasibility studies and manifesto commitments, creating the strategic impetus in the first place to consider developing a the programme.   This is shown in the diagram below:

The ‘delivery pyramid’ shows that there are different hierarchical levels in the path to delivering outcomes from the ‘vision’ at the highest level which is likely to be divided into several ‘portfolios’, describing an organisational grouping such as ‘rail portfolio’ or ‘roads portfolio’.  Several portfolios may therefore contribute to delivering the ‘vision’ with each containing a number of programmes which in turn contain a number of inter-related projects.

The key point is that investment proposals should make ‘strategic sense’ in the wider context.  If they do not, then you have to ask, ‘why are we considering this investment?’

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