Project Management

Introducing Program Maps

Greg Fabian, PMP has over 30 years experience working on IT projects as a project manager, PMO project management consultant and technical strategist with the federal government.

A program map is a diagramming technique used for showing the relationship between various components (usually operations and project-type activities) of a program and program events plotted against time. Rather than making your stakeholders sift through pages of confusing Gantt charts or reading through voluminous plans, they can see what’s in store using a program map.

There is no need to purchase special software to produce program maps. You can use diagramming tools like Microsoft Visio and presentation software like Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, Libre Office, and others to create them.

Programs maps are loosely based on the transit map created by Harry Beck for the London Underground. Figure 1 shows an updated version of the London Underground transit map (you can see the latest version here).

Figure 1: Map of the London Underground

Mr. Beck could have taken the easy way out and superimposed the subway lines and stations on top of a map of London. Instead, he developed a representation showing the spatial relationships between the stations and the rail lines in dependent of their actual location. What you see as a grid pattern in the map is not close to the real configuration of London’s subway system. Despite this “distortion,” you can easily find your way around Greater London using this transit map. …

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