agile chartering

Last modified: October 18th, 2013

We want the community that is delivering our product and/or project to understand the why, how, and who of the initiative – Why are we building this product? How will we know if it is successful? Who is the project community?  By having a Chartering session, we bring the team together to create a common understanding of the product, its vision, and its goals.  This leads to a higher level of engagement for the team members and provides a richer context for all involved.

A chartering session starts off with the product owner or business sponsors explaining in a few statements (elevator pitch) what the product is and why it is valuable.  This establishes the why.  Next, the team starts discussing success criteria.  This can be driven by the product owner or sponsor with feedback from the rest of the team.  This grounds the how of the product in success metrics and appropriate expectations.  Finally, we look at the overall product community (sponsors and senior management, subject matter experts, and delivery team) and engage as necessary.  Other items discussed at this point, if the product and team are ready, could include working agreements, iteration length and review process, standup times, etc.  This last practice identifies the community and helps identify any potential gaps in understanding or skill.  

Chartering happens prior to release planning.  The chartering sessions may also help the product owner understand any limitations, business constraints, or special considerations that need to be accounted for or monitored during the project.

Don’t get hung up in the practices of a chartering or strategy session, rather focus on using them as a way to ground your product community around a common understanding of the vision, goals and work to be done.  This is always a case of do what works for you, your organization, and your team.

Agile Chartering Blog Post (Simon Baker)
Agile Chartering Cartoon  (Elizabeth McClellan - open space artist)
What's in an Agile Charter? (InfoQ)
Agile Chartering (projecttimes)
Developing a Charter (TheAdaptivePM)