The implementation of a project from its initial phase to completion involves numerous documents, and one of the most important of them is the project charter.
Mastering the skill of writing a project charter and other essential project and business documents is not easy, and there is no room for compromise regarding the quality of them.
That’s why we have prepared a text for you explaining a project charter, its significance, and, most importantly, how to compose a flawless one. Let’s get started!
What is a Project Charter?
Before initiating a project, you must undertake several actions, such as refining the idea, project planning, establishing a budget, and defining the project scope. These actions accompany numerous decisions and documents, including a project charter.
A project charter is a legal document that initiates the start of a project and selects a project manager. Wondering why legal? Well, to gain authorization and be considered valid, the project charter must receive approval from an authorized individual, usually the company owner or project financier.
Only after their signature can we assume that we have a project and a project manager, which signifies the beginning of work on project implementation. As for the number of pages your project charter should have, it largely depends on the project’s complexity.
What Should Be Included in a Project Charter
Take a look at the list below to find out what your project charter should include to be considered well-crafted:
- Project goal: Clearly articulate the project’s overarching goals, outlining the desired outcome or result to be achieved within a specified timeframe.
- Project participants: Identify and list the key individuals or teams directly involved in the project, highlighting their roles, responsibilities, and contributions.
- Project stakeholders: Identify and involve all relevant project stakeholders, including individuals, groups, or organizations with an interest or influence on the project.
- Project milestones: Define significant checkpoints or events throughout the project timeline that mark the completion of essential deliverables, enabling effective progress tracking and evaluation.
- Requirements: Clearly state the specific criteria, conditions, and constraints that must be met to successfully deliver the project, encompassing both functional and non-functional aspects.
- Deliverables: List the tangible or intangible outputs and outcomes the project is expected to produce, providing a clear understanding of the results to be delivered.
- Risk: Identify potential risks and uncertainties that may impact the project’s success, assess their likelihood and potential impact, and propose strategies to mitigate or respond to them.
- Cost: Estimate and outline the anticipated financial resources required to complete the project, including budgets for labor, materials, equipment, and other relevant expenses.
What is the Purpose of a Project Charter?
The purpose of a project charter is to provide a clear overview of a project, outlining its objectives, scope, and key stakeholders. Here are the most important reasons why creating a project charter is a good idea:
- Establishing project vision and objectives: The project charter serves as a roadmap for the project, clearly defining its purpose, goals, and desired outcomes. By outlining the vision and objectives in the charter, all team members and stakeholders gain a shared understanding of what the project aims to achieve.
- Defining project scope and boundaries: The project charter sets the scope of the project, determining what is included and excluded from its scope, which can minimize potential misunderstandings and scope creep.
- Identifying key stakeholders and their roles: It identifies the main stakeholders who are interested in or will be affected by the project. It also outlines their roles and responsibilities, ensuring all necessary parties are involved and aware of their contributions.
- Assigning project leadership and authority: This document designates a project manager responsible for overseeing the project’s execution. It outlines their management and decision-making powers, providing a transparent chain of command.
- Securing project resources and support: The project charter is an excellent tool for gaining support and securing the resources needed.
Project Charter vs. Project Plan
When we mentioned the numerous documents created during project implementation, we referred to the project charter and project plan. The project charter is an initial, formal document defining the project objectives, vision, scope, stakeholders, team members, and roles.
On the other hand, the project plan is a more technical document that, in simple terms, elaborates on the project charter and determines how to achieve project objectives. It contains similar elements as the project charter but provides a more detailed breakdown.
Project Charter vs. Business Case
A project charter and a business case are two distinct documents that serve different purposes in project management.
While a project charter defines the project’s purpose, identifies vital team members, and establishes authority and boundaries, a business case outlines the rationale, justification, and expected benefits of a proposed project or initiative. It provides a comprehensive analysis of why a particular project should be undertaken.
Based on this, relevant stakeholders can conclude that what they will gain from the project aligns with their aspirations and that the investment-to-result ratio is proportional.
How to Create a Project Charter
The following steps will show you how to create a flawless project charter:
#1. Write Down General Project Information
This initial section serves as an introduction, providing essential details about the project.
So, start by introducing the project’s name and explaining the idea behind it, as it holds significance in representing the core concept and bringing it to life.
Introduce the project managers responsible for leading the project, providing their names and contact information. The aim is to provide an overview of the project, setting the stage for further discussions.
#2. Define Project Team Roles
Identify all the individuals who will be involved in the project’s execution. Introduce your team members and provide an overview of the entire internal organization, outlining each person’s role and responsibilities within the project.
This segment is crucial for fostering collaboration from the outset by establishing a solid foundation and ensuring everyone knows their respective roles and responsibilities on the project.
#3. Identify Project Goals
Clearly articulate the project goals and the desired outcomes you expect to achieve through project implementation. This segment encompasses not only the project’s ultimate objective in terms of the final product but also the expectations regarding the journey toward project realization.
For example, you may outline the desired team dynamics, dedication to tasks, quality of work, communication, honesty, and promptness in seeking clarification. Well-defined goals are crucial as they ensure that every project participant is familiar with the organization’s requirements and expectations.
#4. Introduce a Business Case
After identifying the project’s goal and desired outcome, present your business plan. Explain how you intend to approach the project’s implementation, including the methodologies, resources, and strategies you plan to employ.
Articulate the benefits you expect the project to bring and identify potential threats that may arise along the way. Additionally, outline your strategies for addressing potential challenges during the project’s execution.
#5. Define the Project Scope & Timeline
The project charter should clearly define the planned activities, key project milestones, and their respective deadlines. Establishing an appropriate project timeline is essential to ensure adequate progress monitoring and alignment with the project plan.
By outlining the activities and their anticipated completion timeframes, the charter provides an overview of the planned execution, allowing stakeholders to assess the alignment of the project timeline with their vision and requirements.
#6. Present the Project Budget
Present the expected budget for the project by clearly allocating funds to specific areas. This step entails identifying the areas where investments will be required, such as equipment, machinery, materials, and personnel.
By providing a comprehensive breakdown of the budget, project financiers and stakeholders gain a clear understanding of the projected costs. Additionally, this enables experts to identify potential modalities that can optimize resource utilization and achieve cost savings.
#7. State the Project Stakeholders
Identify the project’s stakeholders, including individuals who have an interest in or are affected by the project in any way. Define their roles and significance and engage them throughout the project implementation.
By keeping stakeholders informed about the project’s progress and considering their perspectives, the project team can ensure that their requirements and expectations align with the project’s direction.
#8. Specify Project Risks & Constraints
Dedicate a section within the project charter to address the challenges you anticipate encountering. Disclose potential risks that may arise during the project’s journey toward its goal to your team. This way, the team can monitor progress and proactively identify and address potential issues.
Risks may include challenges related to specific resources, such as budget, time, and other project requirements, that could threaten the project’s successful completion.
6 Best Practices for Creating Project Charters
When creating a project charter, remember the following practices to facilitate the creation of the charter. They will enable you to cover all the essential aspects of the project and its execution, ensuring the successful initiation and completion of your project.
#1. Keep it Short
The project charter should be clear to all project participants. Avoid complicating the creation process, yet simplify the stages you expect to encounter on the path to project completion. For each element of the project charter, focus on capturing its essence and conveying it effectively.
#2. Use a Template
Utilizing a template when creating a project charter will make the process easier. Because of numerous planning and decision-making aspects that must be considered, a predefined template helps you stay on track and focus on what matters most.
Using a template, you cannot miss any of the critical components of the project—it serves as your guide throughout the project’s execution.
#3. Design an Implementation Plan
Having an idea is one thing; translating that idea into reality is another dimension altogether. Therefore, outline everything you will need to transform your idea into a tangible outcome.
Create a plan of activities encompassing project fulfillment, identify the necessary resources to carry out these activities, and determine the budget required to acquire the identified resources.
#4. Get Insights From the Team
Achieving project goals and successful functioning relies on the engagement, dedication, responsibility, understanding, and quality of the entire project team. Therefore, review the key points, activities, and tasks expected during the project’s execution with your team.
Find out and understand their perception of the project’s flow, consult with them, and have discussions. That way, you may discover overlooked factors or better organizational strategies.
#5. Define Clear Success Criteria
Success criteria represent measurable elements or benchmarks that demonstrate the project’s accomplishments. For example, consider the quality of the produced product or application, usability, design, resource utilization, time, scope, and more.
Clear success criteria provide a basis for evaluating project performance and ensure that everyone understands what constitutes a successful outcome.
#6. Regularly Review and Update the Charter
A project charter should be active. As the project progresses, reviewing and updating the charter to accommodate new changes and requirements is essential. Doing it ensures that you stay on track and are prepared for potential new developments, enabling you to adapt and respond accordingly.
Project Charter Template
To simplify matters when it comes to creating a project charter on your own, we provide you with a template:
[Your Organization’s Logo]
Project Sponsor: [Name]
Project Manager: [Name]
Project Start Date: [Date]
Project End Date: [Date]
Project Overview: Provide a project summary, including its objectives, scope, and desired outcomes.
Project Deliverables: List the specific deliverables that the project team will produce.
Stakeholders: Identify the key stakeholders involved in the project, including their roles and responsibilities.
Project Milestones: Outline the major milestones and their corresponding target dates.
Project Scope: Define the project’s boundaries, including what is included and excluded.
Project Constraints: Identify any limitations or restrictions impacting the project’s execution.
Project Risks: Highlight potential risks, their impact on the project, and mitigation strategies.
Project Communication Plan: Describe the communication channels and frequency for project updates and stakeholder engagement.
Project Resources: Specify the resources required for the successful completion of the project, including personnel, equipment, and materials.
Project Budget: Outline the estimated budget, including cost constraints or financial considerations.
Approval: This project charter requires the support of the project sponsor and relevant stakeholders.
By signing below, we acknowledge our understanding and support for this project’s objectives, scope, and constraints.
[Project Sponsor’s Name] [Date]
[Project Manager’s Name] [Date]
[Your Organization’s Name] [Address] [Phone Number] [Email Address] [Website]
Project Charter Example
Now, let’s take a look at an example of a project charter as well:
Project title: Expansion of customer support services
Project purpose: This project aims to enhance our customer support capabilities to improve customer satisfaction, reduce response times, and accommodate the growing customer base.
Project manager: Full name
Project sponsor: Full name
Project start date: Start date
Project end date: End date
- Increase customer satisfaction scores by 20% within the next 12 months.
- Reduce average response times for customer inquiries to less than 24 hours.
- Expand our customer support team by hiring and training three new support agents.
- Implement a new customer support ticketing system to streamline operations.
- Develop a comprehensive customer support training program.
Project Scope: This project will improve customer support operations across all channels, including email, phone, and live chat. It includes the implementation of new software, hiring and training of new staff, and the development of improved customer service processes.
- New customer support ticketing system.
- Three trained and onboarded customer support agents.
- Reduced response times and improved customer satisfaction scores.
- Updated customer support process documentation.
- Comprehensive training program for existing and new support agents.
- Delays in hiring and training new support agents.
- Technical issues during the implementation of the new ticketing system.
- Resistance to change from existing support staff.
Project Timeline: The project is scheduled to start on [Start Date] and conclude on [End Date], with regular progress updates provided to stakeholders.
Budget: The budget for this project is $XXX,XXX, which includes software costs, training expenses, and salaries for new hires.
Approval: This Project Charter has been reviewed and approved by the sponsor, [Sponsor’s Name], on [Approval Date].
[Signature of Project Manager] [Signature of Project Sponsor]
Date: [Date of Charter Approval]
Once an authorized person signs the project charter, your project receives the green light, and you can proceed with its implementation. However, for this to happen, the project charter needs to meet the criteria and standards that we have outlined for you in this text.
That’s why you need to be concise and systematic when determining project goals, scope, budget, roles for stakeholders, and other vital elements of the project and project charter.
Ultimately, once you incorporate all the necessary elements, be sure that the project charter will be your ally and guiding star throughout the entire project implementation process!