The Programme Board has a key role in supporting the Senior Responsible Owner in making decisions and providing both challenge and approval on issues affecting the progress of the programme.

Purpose of the programme board

The Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) is responsible for providing approvals and decisions affecting programme progress and delivery throughout the programme. To fulfil these responsibilities, the SRO may require the support of a programme board (‘the board’). Sometimes the sponsoring group may also assume the role of programme board and an SRO is appointed from within the group. If the board is to be a body other than the sponsoring group, members of the board should be formally appointed by the SRO with the agreement of the sponsoring group. The board has a specific remit to set the direction for the programme, support the SRO in decision-making and oversee the overall progress of the programme.

The board should be chaired by the SRO, who takes executive responsibility for decisions relating to the programme. Its membership should include a single individual who represents each group of those senior managers who have an interest in the programme and whose activities will be affected by the programme. This individual should also represent the end users to promote their concerns and interests. It may be the case that the board also takes on direct responsibility for some or all of the projects within the programme. If this is the case, note should be taken of a typical project board’s responsibilities under PRINCE2.

In addition, a senior representative of the supplier or delivery agent can be invited to provide their perspective and expertise (this reflects typical user and supplier representation as recommended for PRINCE2 project boards). Depending on the nature of the programme, other people's expert opinion may be sought to provide input to decisions made by the SRO and the board. For example, the views of corporate management, technical specialists, other key stakeholders (perhaps from other agencies) may be required.  

The board provides the SRO with stakeholder or technical input to decisions affecting the programme or project. Ultimate authority and accountability reside with the SRO.

As a general rule, the board must be an effective decision making body and, while it is important to represent the views of all major stakeholders, too many members can seriously undermine the board’s effectiveness.

Specific responsibilities of the programme board

The programme board is responsible for:

  • appointing a programme manager (and programme director if applicable) - if these roles are combined, agreeing remit and delegated authority
  • approving programme identification and definition, signing off relevant documentation, for example programme brief or programme definition
  • agreeing all major plans
  • confirming and communicating the programme vision
  • approving the programme blueprint (how the programme vision is to be achieved) and the means of achieving it
  • authorising any major deviations from the agreed programme stage (tranche) plans
  • signing off the completion of each tranche, including the deliverables, and giving approval to start the next stage
  • communicating information about the programme or projects to organisations and stakeholder groups
  • ensuring the required resources are available
  • resolving any conflicts escalated by the programme or project teams, client, supplier or delivery agent
  • agreeing programme or project tolerances for time, quality and cost
  • providing overall strategic direction for the programme
  • risks associated with the programme including those escalated from project level
  • quality assurance for the programme and its associated projects
  • approving end-project reports including lessons learned reports
  • approving plans for post-project reviews and overseeing these reviews within the programme
  • ensuring that a post-programme review is scheduled and takes place
  • resolving deviations from plans or escalating as necessary
  • resolving conflicts between programme and project teams, end users, suppliers and delivery agents or escalating as necessary

Skills and attributes required by programme board members

Board members should be able to:

  • understand programme and project plans and monitor progress
  • own and communicate the programme vision
  • understand and act on those factors that affect the successful delivery of the programme and its projects
  • broker relationships with stakeholders within and outside the programme
  • provide delegated authority to ensure the programme meets its objectives
  • be aware of the broader perspective and how it affects the programme
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