Introduction to the Hierarchy of Program

The Hierarchy of Program is a framework of inter-related programs which vary in detail and are created to suit the different applications of the program. The framework is defined by Project Controls during the Project Establish stage. The Hierarchy must satisfy the business, project and client requirements of the project.

The hierarchy of program is a hierarchical structure used to determine

  • The types of programs to be developed
  • The inter-relationship with other program types
  • The typical roles that are accountable or responsible for its development
  • The applicable processes for its development and operation

The industry has a number of know hierarchy conventions ranging from three (3) to seven (7) levels, if not more. The most common convention for projects to follow is a five (5) level structure, with each project varying the levels of detail to suit.



Level 1 – Summary Schematic Program (SSP)

  • Key high-level document to communicate overall project execution strategy and critical / near critical paths as captured in the L3 IMP
  • Schematic or graphical in nature and used mainly for reporting purposes
  • Dependent on Level 3 program
  • Developed by the Planners.

Level 2 – Summary Reporting Program (SRP)

  • Summarised Master Program typical rolled up to the work package level or higher
  • In Gantt format and used mainly for reporting purposes
  • Dependent on Level 3 program
  • Developed by the Planners.

Level 3 – Integrated Master Program (IMP)

  • Cross-functional strategic program to project completion
  • Underpins forecast final cost and should basic risk-adjusted
  • Sets framework for Level 4 and Level 5.
  • Developed by the Planners.

Level 4 – Target Execution Program (TEP)

  • Mid-term execution program developed at the Package or Area level to support the coordination and delivery of logistics to enable field execution of construction.
  • Planning parameters set by L3 IMP and typically operating on a rolling three-month look-ahead or till completion of the phase or stage.
  • Should incorporate more aggressive targets and exclude non-specific risk or buffer.
  • Developed by the Planners and Project Engineers.

Level 5 – Production Control Program (PCP)

  • Short term planning program developed at the Team level to enable coordination of construction activities on site.
  • Production Control to achieve L4 TEP targets and is typically operating on a rolling four-week look-ahead.
  • Developed by the Project Engineers, Site Engineers, Design Team Leaders, Cost Engineers

Standard Program Naming

Within the above hierarchy, the following additional standard program names have been identified.

  • Design Execution Program (DEP) – (Level 4 and Level 5)
  • Procurement Execution Program (PEP) – (Level 4 and Level 5)
  • Construction Execution Program (CEP) – (Level 4 and Level 5)Planning-HierarchyOfProgram-Relationships


It is important to note that the Level 3 program plays a pivotal role in linking the various programs.

It is not recommended to simultaneously run with multiple what-if programs. These should be done at a specific point in time and then either implemented or discarded.

It is of contractual importance that all actuals from L5 are correctly recorded at all levels of the Hierarchy. This is to ensure that all backup data when claims are made align.

Program Types

Depending on the nature of the project, as well as the anticipated audience of the programs further program types may be required to control the distribution of the program.

Typical Program Types include a Contract Program (CP) for distribution to the Client, a Forecast Program (FP) for distribution to internal management and a Target Program (TP) for distribution to the internal teams. While each project may manage these differently the Contract Program is usually “Contractual” and may only show the information that the Contract requires. While the Forecast program may have more detail, such as the internal costing, which would not be shared with the Client. The Forecast Program is used for costing purposes as it usually has an allowance for activity and team-based risk. The Target Program is typically the more aggressive program and should stretch the teams. The Target Program typically does not allow for any risk and is also sometimes referred to as a Nett Program.

A more specific purpose and a process must be set for each of these types during the Project Establish phase.


Responsible Party

A Responsibility Matrix for the Hierarchy of Program must be created and maintained for all required programs. This document should be referenced and kept up to date to ensure all parties are aware of their responsibilities.

Andre Montauban

For over 15 years I have gained diverse experience serving in multiple roles on large Commercial and Infrastructure Projects from the ground up. I have genuine commitment to improve the industry while working in a challenging and dynamic environment.

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