Do you want to avoid the endless discussion about how to do things when you are working together in a program? Our advice is to spend time to discuss this way of working in the start-up phase of your program. This saves time later! If you don’t agree on the way of working at the start, our experience shows that these discussions later on will take more time and repeat themselves.  

Many managers will recognize the need to adapt frequently to changing market conditions. Therefore, projects are set-up and programs are initiated. To run programs successfully, it is important to use a holistic methodology. The challenge is not to set up multiple projects, the challenge is to set up multiple projects that run in parallel within a coherent program that brings the company into the right direction in a controlled and successful way!

The BearingPoint Transformation Bridge is a holistic methodology, that guides you through the set up (or assessment) of transformation programs.

Way of working

One of the elements of the Transformation Bridge is to define the way of working. The way of working contains decisions on:

  • A delivery methodology: will we work in an Agile way? Or waterfall?
  • Processes around testing, acceptance management, knowledge management, risk management
  • Procedures regarding administration, reporting, risk management, roles, responsibilities, and governance
  • Code of conduct: how will we work together? What are the team ground rules?
  • The tooling and/or templates that support the above decisions.

Why is it relevant to define the way of working in advance?

If you want to drive a successful transformation, it is important to think in advance about the way of working: How will we communicate? What will be managed on program level, what will be managed on project level? Who will be responsible for quality of delivery? Who is accountable for sign-off?

Defining the way of working is important for:

  1. The primary process of the program
    Within the program it is important to agree on how delivery is being managed. Relevant questions are: will we work in an Agile way, and if so in what way? How will we incorporate acceptance management? How do we organize testing?
    Agreeing on these essential steps at the start of a program focusses the energy of program members during the delivery of the program towards the content instead of discussing the process of running the program.
  2. The supporting processes
    Agreeing on a joint way of working facilitates communication among program components and members, as formats and processes are similar. Complex transformation programs often involve many resources for a longer period and, just like in a normal organization or department, it is important to set up supporting processes like recruitment, time writing, escalation management etc.
    We never hesitate to do this for normal (departments in) organizations, but for programs, especially those that can be quite large (50+ people involved) and lengthy (lasting for more than 1-2 years), this is a necessary step as well.
  3. The culture of the program
    Not only the process set up should be thought through, it is also important to think about the way people will work together: what behavior rules do we agree to? what is acceptable? what is the code of conduct? Agreeing on a few rules as a team, creates a shared identity, makes cooperation smoother, easier and creates a strong cohesion within the program.

How to create one way of working

There are many ways to work together within a program. Some companies work in an agile way and use Scrum as a method. For other companies, a more waterfall approach is more effective, and other companies have a combination in their organization.

For successful programs, there is no single solution that works everywhere. It is even possible to agree to use different approaches to different components of the program (i.e. some components use agile, whereas others are delivered using more traditional project management tools).

The most important things are:

  • to choose a way of working that fits to the goal of the program, the (possible) different ways of working within an organization
  • to agree on how the two work together.
  • to ensure all team members know and understand the way of working

In our experience, programs fail not because they chose the “wrong” way of working, but instead, they lacked identifying a joint way of working.


Choosing the way of working on program level helps to drive a successful transformation program. It supports both your primary program process as well as your supporting processes and culture of the program. The exact best way of working for your purpose is always a tailor-made decision, important is that there is one way of working throughout the program.


Annelieke Hoenderkamp
Senior Manager