Program Charter & Management

It is symantically important to understand the difference between a Program & a Project. Projects are all rolled-up into an overarching Program as seen in the following example:

  • Program Wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP) Roll-out 
    • Project1 Demographic Analysis 
    • Project2 Product development (analysis & definition) 
    • Project3 Wireless Radio Access Network (RAN) design & deployment 
    • Project4 Network Operating Center (NOC) design & deployment 
    • Project5 Points of Presence (POP) designs & deployment 
    • Project6 Customer Premises equipment (CPE) design
    • ...
    • ...


Each program on your roadmap should start with a charter that gives your expectations & success factors for the project. In addition to its value as a planning tool, the project charter provides much of the input to the statement of work/service level agreements (SLA) & provides the foundation required for effective project management.

The program charter includes:

  • An explicit statement of the program scope, assumptions, and constraints
  • A project justification statement detailing:
    • How the program aligns with and advances your corporate strategy
    • The success factors for the program & each subsequent project & how they will be tracked & measured
  • A cost-benefits analysis that includes the project budgets & full exposure of all hidden costs
  • An organizational plan that gives the composition, roles, & responsibilities (see RACI, left) of your onshore & offshore project teams
  • A requirements management plan that details how requirements are to be created & shared with the offshore team
  • A change management plan for all aspects of the project including requirements, scope, transition, & project logistics
  • All resource requirements for the projects including the version control system, bug tracking system, & other required software licenses & hardware
  • A communication plan that details:
    • The schedule of all regular meetings, their agendas, & the required attendees
    • The communication channels to be used & how communications will be tracked
    • All status reporting & feedback mechanisms
  • A training plan consisting of:
    • The knowledge transfer plan and content
    • The cultural intelligence training programs for the onshore & offshore project teams
  • A work breakdown plan for all stages of all projects including requirements definition, design, development, quality assurance, delivery & acceptance testing
  • A detailed risk assessment & mitigation plan. A high-level view of this should already reside in the strategic assessment
  • The quality assurance plan detailing:
    • The criteria, methods & procedures to be used to control quality during development, integration testing & acceptance testing
    • How defects are to be tracked & communicated between the teams
    • A review process that enables each team to benefit from improvements discovered by the other
  • The project schedule with explicit, measurable milestones

The Program charter provides a framework for managing the projects. The program manager is charged with ensuring that the project teams adhere to all of its provisions & that all project milestones are met. Some aspects of the charter, especially requirements definition & change management, require special attention. Even experienced project managers may need mentoring & guidance from the Program Management to successfully make the transition to globally distributed development & delivery.

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As background: The RACI methodology is a matrix of roles in any given project. RACI is actually an acronym:

  • Responsible - Those who do work to achieve the task. There can be multiple resources responsible.
  • Accountable - The resource ultimately accountable for the completion of the task. There must be exactly one A specified for each task.
  • Consulted - Those whose opinions are sought. Two-way communication.
  • Informed - Those who are kept up-to-date on progress. One-way communication.