Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Managing Programmes/Programme Context

A programme is the response by an organization to the need of concretizing its mission into a series of actions. It is a framework containing planned activities (project) directed towards a common (overall) goal. A cooperation programme goal represents the meeting ground between the organizations mandate and the needs (including the need to recognize and exercise their rights) of the people for whom the organizations works.



In the background section of the Organization & sector of activity segment of a project/program plan, managers must bring the audience up to speed on how the project/program concept came about and how it got to the stage it is currently at. Some crucial questions for this section include:

  • When and where was the organization started? What was the date and state of incorporation?
  • Who are the founders of the organization? Are there any other key individuals involved? What do they bring to the project/program?
  • Where is the project/program located?
  • Why did the founders of the organization go into project/program? How was the idea for the project/program developed?
  • How did the founders identify their market? How successful have they been in penetrating the market?
  • How much money did the founders put into the organization?
  • Is there a patent or trademark for the organization’s name and/or logo?

Essentially, by the end of the background section, the reader should understand the basic history of the organization from the time of its inception. They should be familiar with where the project/program is located, what form of entity it is, and the major players involved in its history.

Current Status


Once the background for the organization has been established, managers must discuss the current state of affairs. project/program project/programs typically develop project/program plans at critical junctures in the organization’s development. Perhaps the organization needs funding to begin or expand operations. Or perhaps the organization is looking to be bought by a larger competitor and wants to explain its project/program conceit. Whatever the reason, managers must explain the current state of affairs. This includes answering the following questions as thoroughly as possible:

  • What are the organization’s overall strengths and weaknesses?
  • How much money has been invested to date? What has the source of this funding been? How has the funding been used?
  • What is the organization’s sales and service record? How is the product doing in the marketplace?
  • Does the organization have a reputation in the marketplace? Has it developed any word of mouth or positive press?
  • What kind of funding is needed at this point to begin operations or expand or improve existing operations?

The audience of a project/program plan should finish this section with an understanding of where the project/program is at this very moment. They should understand the challenges facing the organization, and the resources or investment necessary to continue the organization’s growth and development. In addition, a well-written plan will not only discuss the organization’s current status, but also provide a sense of excitement and enthusiasm about the organization’s future potential in the marketplace.

Future Plans


At this point, the project/program plan has provided a thorough summary of the organization’s history. In addition, the reader has a strong idea of the current status of the organization, the challenges it faces, and the resources needed for growth. Now, managers must share their vision of the organization for the next three to five years. This is contained in the “Future Plans” sub header with the Organization & sector of activity section. It is within this section that the author can discuss the goals the organization has over the next several years. This can include expansions of existing product lines, the targeting of additional market segments, or the addition of new staff or personnel. Essentially, managers want to convey to their audience that they have a strong understanding of their project/program and know where they want to head and how to get there. Some key questions to be answered in this section include:

  • What are the future goals for the organization? What is the organization’s strategy for achieving them?
  • What resources are needed to expand and meet the goals envisioned by the manager?
  • How will the organization change as it evolves and grows?
  • What are the chief milestones that must be met on the path to meeting these future goals?
  • What does the organization’s management see as the main opportunity for growth and expansion?

Once these questions are answered, the audience should have a strong understanding of where the organization is headed, and how they plan to get there. This is a crucial element of any project/program plan. A organization will not be able to secure financing, key personnel or other resources if they cannot convince others that their organization is on the path to success.



  Programme plan
  Guideline: How to manage programmes for a learning organization that is projectized and employee empowering.

See also


  Issue 8 ⇒ How to design and manage successful cooperation programmes?

In other sections of this handbook
  Organizational Types
  Organizational Structure
  Organizational Culture
  The projectized organization
  The learning organization
  The employee empowering organization
  The Organization’s mission
  The Organization’s vision

  Designing and Managing Projects
  The 3 level hierarchy of programme objectives
  Project Managers and programme Managers