Program Charter

Program Charter (DOCX)

Purpose of Program Charter

The purpose of the program charter is to clearly outline what is to be done and authorize the Program Manager to proceed and apply organizational resources.  The charter provides the opportunity to authorize the program based on measurable objectives in relation to a business need and identified strategic benefits.  The program charter is not meant to approve the program, which was done through intake, nor to document how things will be done, which is done through planning. It also charters and plans for the component projects. It is simply documentation around the authorization provided to the Program Manager for that program. The program charter is part of the Project Management Office’s program definition phase.

The program charter shares the vision to achieve consensus between key players and components (projects and initiatives) of the program.  Each component project should have its own project charter that aligns with the overall program charter.

Program Charter Participants and Approvers

Input into the program charter may come from many different sources including, but not limited to, Sponsor, senior leadership, program intake form and/or business case, organizational and/or business unit strategic plans and initiatives, component project documentation (if already in progress), initial analysis/research done when proposing the program, subject matter experts within business unit(s), and other stakeholders (such as staff, students, faculty).

The author is typically the Program Manager for the program.  If somebody else authors the charter, the Program Manager will still provide a signature that they agree to execute the program according to the documented parameters.

The approver of the program charter is the Sponsor


  1. Research and understand program information by reading any prior documentation (such as intake form(s), business case(s), and research/analysis) and speaking to Sponsor and other stakeholders.  A program business case will have already been approved and will contain information with regards to justification and strategic alignment.
  2. Create the program charter with input from applicable stakeholders and Sponsor by filling out the sections in the template.  The green italic text contains instructions for filling out the template and can be removed for the final version of the document. 
  3. Review charter with applicable stakeholders for accuracy and completeness, if required.
  4. Obtain appropriate approval for program charter to indicate agreement between the Program Manager and Sponsor about the parameters of the program and authorizing the Program Manager to begin.
  5. Scan the signed program charter and upload to the document repository being used by the team.

Next Steps

Once the program charter has been approved, the Program Manager can begin framing the program in more detail, using a program management plan, stakeholder register, communication plan, details on the benefits (documented in a Benefits Register), and a benefits realization plan. Based on the Program Manager’s understanding of stakeholders, he/she can then talk to Functional Managers to negotiate time from their resources for the program, initiatives, and projects to schedule a program kickoff meeting.  The Program Manager can also start documenting the risks in a program risk register.