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Closing a Programme Tutorial

Welcome to Closing a Program tutorial offered by Simplilearn. The tutorial is part of the MSP® Foundation and Practitioner course.

In the previous lessons, we have understood the lifecycle of a program starting from the identification process to the definition process. The program is executed in ‘managing the tranches’ and ‘delivering the capability’.

‘Realizing the benefits’ process focuses on the benefits. The program can be closed once all the benefits have been realized. This lesson focuses on the process, ‘closing a program’. Also, the steps involved in the process, ‘closing a program’ are explained.

Let us begin with the objectives of this lesson in the next section.

Objectives

By the end of this closing a program tutorial, you will be able to:

  • Describe the inputs, principle controls, key roles and the outputs of the ‘closing a program’ process

  • Discuss the checkpoints to verify program closure

  • Explain the reasons for closing a program

  • Explain the steps involved in the process, ‘closing a program’

  • Describe the responsibilities of various roles in this process

In the next section, we will identify the position of the process, ‘closing a program’, within the MSP® framework.

MSP Framework

In the picture of the MSP Framework shown below, ‘Closing a program’ is a part of the innermost circle of the MSP® framework.

During this process, it is verified whether the program can be closed or the program organization can be disbanded.

It also allows and ensures support for operational units that have undergone transition.

In the next section, we will focus on an overview of the ‘closing a program’ process.

Closing a Program Introduction

A programme can be closed when all the benefits are realised. In this section, we will focus on inputs, principle controls, key roles, and outputs of the ‘closing a program’ process.

Inputs to the Process, Closing a Program

The inputs to ‘closing a program’ are:

  • Management baseline information.

  • Boundary baseline information.

  • Governance baseline information.

These are documents that will be reviewed and updated during the process.

Other inputs comprise:

  • Assurance review reports,

  • End of tranche review,

  • Reasons for closure,

  • Lessons learned and

  • Warranties and contracts related to the capabilities and outcomes delivered.

Principle Controls to the Process, Closing a Program  

The steps in process controls are given as:

  • The process is controlled by the Sponsoring Group, who is authorized to close the program.

  • The governance baseline also acts as a control for this process.

  • Formal assurance review of programs and reasons for the closure of the program.

Key Roles to the Process, Closing a Program

The key roles in this process are:

  • The Sponsoring Group who endorses the closure

  • The Senior Responsible Owner or SRO who is accountable for the program.

  • The Program Board,

  • Program Manager,

  • Business Change Manager or BCM and

  • The Program Office.

Steps involved in the Process of Closing a Program

The steps involved in closing a program are:

  • The first step involved in ‘closing a program’ is to ensure that support will continue after the program has been closed.

  • Next, the program closure needs to be confirmed and notified.

  • Once the closure is confirmed, the program needs to be reviewed.

  • After the review, program information baselines are updated and finalized.

  • Feedback regarding the program is shared with corporate governance to ensure that the lessons learned are not lost.

  • Finally, the program organization and supporting functions are disbanded.

Outputs of the Process, Closing a Program

The outputs of the ‘closing a program’ process are:

  • The confirmation of program closure.

  • The program teams are disbanded.

  • Independent assurance review is conducted, which leads to updated program baselines.

  • The lessons learned are recorded.

  • The required benefits realization activities will continue and

  • The final information is handed over to the concerned teams for the same.

  • The governance arrangements are prepared for projects that have not been closed.

In the next section, we will focus on the checkpoints to verify program closure.

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Checkpoints to Verify Program Closure

A program can be closed when it has delivered all the planned capabilities and the capabilities have been measured. These measures determine the success of a program.

For each capability delivered, the realized benefits will be analyzed and compared with the estimation provided in the benefits profile. This will help in understanding whether or not the benefits have been successfully realized.

To check if the program can be closed:

  • Verify whether the blueprint has been delivered,

  • The outcomes have been achieved,

  • The business case has been satisfied and

  • The benefits are self-sustaining and will serve the organization without the program’s support.

  • The last tranche needs to be completed as per plan without outstanding issues or risks.

  • Operations need to be in a stable state, that is, it should be free from risks that are unacceptable.

There are other reasons responsible for closing a program. We will discuss them in the next section.

Other Reasons for Closing a Program

A program can be closed are:

  • If the planned business case is no longer justified and it does not make business sense to continue the program. This scenario can be a result of multiple factors which are both internal and external.

  • A program can also be closed if an organization is unable to secure the necessary funding or resources to complete the program. This could occur if key stakeholders discontinue supporting the program.

  • Next, a program can be closed if it becomes unnecessary due to external circumstances. An example will be a program to host commonwealth games, which had to be canceled due to a bad weather forecast for the entire month.

  • A change in organizational strategy such that the program does not suit the organizational strategy may also lead to program closure.

  • The 80/20 rule states that if the cost of the remaining program does not make business sense when compared to the additional benefits it will, then the program can be closed with whatever it has achieved so far.

  • Finally, a program can also be closed when alternative, cost-effective means to deliver the same outcome are available.

In the next section, we will focus on the steps involved in the process, ‘closing a program’.

Steps to Close a Program

The steps involved in closing a program are as follows:

Step 1:

Before closing a program, first, confirm whether ongoing support is available. This support is necessary to ensure that benefits realization is checked even after the program is closed.

Multiple checks need to be performed before deciding to close the program. These checks will be discussed in detail in the following sections.

Step 2:

The second step is to confirm whether the program can be closed.

Step 3:

Post-confirmation, the third step is to notify program closure to all the stakeholders.

Step 4:

In the fourth step, the program is reviewed to understand how successful it has been in delivering the planned benefits.

Step 5:

Post review, in the fifth step, the program information is updated and finalized for all the governance, management and boundary baseline documents.

Step 6:

The sixth step is to provide feedback to corporate governance. This feedback is based on the varied experiences during the life of a program.

Step 7:

The final step is to disband the program organization and support functions.

In the next section, we will discuss the first step of ‘closing a program’, that is, ‘confirm ongoing support’.

Step 1: Confirm Ongoing Support

How will the business operate without the support of a program? When a program is active, it supports the changes and resolves conflicts and issues that arise during the transition. Hence,

  • Planning is required to support changes and resolve conflicts after closing a program.

  • During the program lifecycle, there might be a lot of changes in terms of stakeholders and business operation and communication methods. These may lead to the identification of new risks that will need to be managed even after closing a program.

  • After closure, embedding changes in business-as-usual environment must continue to ensure a smooth transition.

  • It might be required to establish support for the outcomes affecting external stakeholders, as well.

  • Furthermore, the required transition activities need to be identified and defined.

  • Finally, the transition activities need to be handed over to the required business operations.

In the next section, we will discuss the second step of ‘closing a program’ and find out how and when program closure can be confirmed

Step 2: Confirm Program Closure

To confirm program closure, it needs to be formally confirmed that:

  • The business case has been satisfied

  • All projects planned in the projects dossier have been satisfactorily completed.

  • Furthermore, it needs to be confirmed that business performance is stable after the transition activities and

  • The remaining transition activities have been defined and assigned to relevant business operations.

If the program closure is premature, the remaining live projects still required by the organization need to be reassigned to business management or other programs.

The Senior Responsible Owner or SRO proposes the closure to the Sponsoring Group and if the Sponsoring Group is satisfied with the outcomes, they will endorse the recommendation to confirm the closure.

In the next section, we will discuss the third step of ‘closing a program’ and understand the steps involved in notifying the program closure.

Step 3: Notify Program Closure

The activity of notifying program closure begins after the Program Manager is certain that the program will be closed. This involves two steps:

  • The first step is to notify all the stakeholders and the Program Office.

  • The second step is to produce instructions and a timetable for closing activities and program review.

For planned closure, the instructions for communication will be available in the program communications plan.

In case of premature closure, better communication and stakeholder engagement must be ensured so that early closure does not have an adverse effect on the program achievements.

In the next section, we will discuss the fourth step of ‘closing a program’, which is to review the program.

Step 4: Review Program

The reviewing activity must be able to assess and evaluate the performance of the program and its management processes with the aim to identify the lessons learned.

As part of ‘closing a program’, a formal review must be conducted to assess:

  • The delivery of the complete blueprint,

  • The realization of the overall benefits and

  • Achievements of the program’s business case.

The final review may be a consolidation of the previous findings of benefits reviews. Reviews may be internal or external in nature and further reviews need to be planned after the closure, to provide a complete assessment of the realized benefits.

In the next section, we will focus on the fifth step of ‘closing a program’, which is ‘update and finalize program’.

Step 5: Update and Finalise Program Information

The ‘update and finalize program information’ step involves certain considerations:

  • Program information must be reviewed and updated to ensure that all remaining issues, risks, and outstanding actions have been appropriately dealt with.

  • All risks and issues for which the different business operations have accepted responsibility must be handed over to them. The accountability of these risks remains with the SRO.

  • Strategies, plans and boundary documents must be reviewed to assess their effectiveness and appropriateness and to identify and consolidate the lessons learned for future programs.

  • Finally, the information must be archived as per corporate and legislative governance norms.

In the next section, we will discuss the penultimate step of ‘closing a program’, which is ‘provide feedback to corporate governance’.

Step 6: Provide Feedback to Corporate Governance

The step ‘provide feedback to corporate governance’ is important for the following reasons:

  • Programs are developed out of strategic needs. Providing feedback is necessary for strategists in corporate governance.

  • Feedback from the program will help the organization develop more informed strategic decisions.

In the next section, let us focus on the final step of ‘closing a program’, which is ‘disband program organization and supporting functions’.

Step 7: Disband Program Organization and Supporting Functions

The activities in the final step of ‘closing a program’ are as follows:

  • The program infrastructure and management processes are disbanded and resources are released from the program. This is necessary so that the resources can be assigned to other operational roles or programs.

  • Staff redeployment must be planned in advance according to their updated skills.

  • Any contracts used by the program need to be finalized or handed over to the relevant business management team.

In the next section, let us discuss the roles and their responsibilities in ‘closing a program’.

Roles and Responsibilities

Let us focus on the responsibilities of the Senior Responsible Owner or SRO, Program Manager, Business Change Manager or BCM, and Program Office in ‘closing a program’.

The roles and their responsibilities in ‘closing a program’ are as follows:

  • Senior Responsible Owner or SRO: The accountability for all activities lies with the SRO.

  • Program Manager: Responsibilities are shared between the Program Manager and the Business Change Manager to confirm program closure. The SRO depends on the inputs from the Program Manager and the BCMs and consults them before taking the final decision.

  • Business Change Manager or BCM: Reviewing the program is always the responsibility of the BCM.

  • Program Office: The Program Office is notified during all the steps of ‘closing a program’. But during the steps of ‘confirm ongoing support’ and ‘update and finalize program information’, the Program Office is actively consulted for inputs and possible support.

In the next section, we will focus on an example based on the concepts discussed.

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Closing a Program Problem Statement

Kylie Honkele, the CFO of Nutri Worldwide Inc., is the Senior Responsible Owner of the program, Nutri Snack. Multiple projects have been outlined for successful completion of this program. The projects undertaken are as follows:

Project 1: Creating a new recipe

Project 2: Advertisement and marketing

Project 3: Identifying the sellers and

Project 4: New production unit

The Program Manager and the Business Change Manager have completed all the tasks in the transformational flow.

In the next section, let us discuss if the program, Nutri Snack, can be closed.

Closing a Program Solution

Completing the projects in the program is not enough to ensure closure. To check whether the program can be closed, you must verify that:

  • The blueprint has been delivered,

  • The outcomes have been achieved,

  • The business case has been satisfied and

  • The benefits are self-sustaining and will serve the organization without the program support.

  • You also need to check that there are no outstanding issues and risks that are unacceptable to operations.

After the above criteria are verified, a complete program review is performed. All program documents are updated and feedback is provided to corporate governance. After corporate governance approves, the program can be closed.

Summary

Let us summarize what we have learned in this closing a program tutorial:

  • Some of the inputs to ‘closing a program’ are management, boundary and governance baseline information.

  • The ‘closing a program’ process is controlled by the Sponsoring Group.

  • The key roles in this process are the Sponsoring Group, SRO, Program Manager, Program Board, Business Change Manager and Program Office.

  • One of the outputs of the process is confirmation of program closure.

  • Delivery of blueprint, achievement of outcomes and other parameters can be tested before deciding to close the program.

  • A program can be closed if it is realized that the planned business case is no longer justified.

  • The steps involved in closing a program are ‘confirm ongoing support’, ‘confirm program closure’, ‘notify program closure’, ‘review program’, ‘finalise program information’, ‘provide feedback to corporate governance’ and ‘disband program organization’.

  • To confirm program closure, a formal confirmation that the business case has been satisfied is required.

  • The accountability for all closure activities lies with the SRO.

  • Reviewing the program is the responsibility of the BCM.

Next, we will look at a few questions based on the lessons covered so far.

Conclusion

With this, we come to an end to Closing a Program Tutorial.

  • Disclaimer
  • PMP, PMI, PMBOK, CAPM, PgMP, PfMP, ACP, PBA, RMP, SP, and OPM3 are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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