During the 2014 IPMA World Congress in Rotterdam, Theo van der Tak, Björn Prevaas and Hans Cremer introduced a new concept for designing a program by using a “Program Canvas”. During a workshop with about 50 experts the canvas was further improved and in 2016 a book as well as a toolset with poster, templates and website were published. The authors consider programs as a temporary complex of activities aimed at striving for unique and coherent objectives and dependent on people cooperating with limited resources in relation with the strategy of the participating organisation(s). Based on this definition, program management can be seen as a way of managing work that is necessary to design and implement a program. In this way, program management is clearly distinguished form other ways of managing work, i.e. project management or process management. Goals and connected terms as objectives, benefits and impacts are viewed as an important part of programs. Program management supports people to perform change in a transparent way.
The Program Canvas guides the users swiftly along the most important elements of a program. Designing a program is a joint effort of the program manager, the team and the sponsor, principal or the executive. By doing that the program manager and the team cooperate to create a common approach for the program. This enhances the commitment of the key players. Also other stakeholders can be involved in designing the program. The Canvas consists of 16 basic elements that have to be addressed before deciding to start a program. These 16 elements contain answers to the following questions: Why this program? How are we going to realize it? What are specific objectives and activities of the program? What does the program not cover? Within what constraints will the program be executed? Who is doing what in the program and with which resources the program will be implemented. The website elaborates on these questions and helps to design a program in a systematic way. It is an easy-to-use approach and fits well in similar approaches like the business model canvas or the project canvas.