Organizational Developmental Consultant

Back by popular demand: The What, When and How of Project Charters

January 12, 2018

“I’ve been asked to lead a change project within my company, but I’m not really sure what is expected. What should I do?”

What is a Project Charter?

A Project Charter is a one page document that describes the new project’s:

  • Objectives
  • Measures and targets – both financial and non-financial
  • Deliverables
  • Assumptions re: support requirements, risks, inter-dependencies, etc.
  • The Project Sponsor (the leader ultimately accountable for the project’s success) the Project Manager (the person who leads the project on a day-to-day basis), and Team Members (people assigned to the project either full or part time), and the time required for their participation
  • What is in and out of scope

The Project Charter serves as the written agreement between key stakeholders, the project sponsor, the lead and the team. Having this agreement up front avoids conflicts and confusion later on, and will increase the likelihood of success from the very start.

When to use Project Charter

  • When you want to make sure that your project is very clearly defined and agreed with key stakeholders from the start
  • When you want to assemble a special project team to accomplish a specific goal

How to use Project Charter

  1. The Project Sponsor and Project Manager agree the categories in the charter template, draft the Project Charter and gain input and alignment with key stakeholders.
  2. If there is an Executive Steering Group (ESG), the ESG should sign off on the charter.
  3. Use the Project Charter to create a more detailed project plan, with support from and alignment with the Project Team.
  4. Refer back to the charter from time to time to ensure that the direction of the project remains consistent with original expectations.

A Project Charter example and template are below.

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In Summary:

A Project Charter is a great way to gain agreement on the objectives and parameters of a new project.

  1. The Project Sponsor and Project Manager agree the categories in the charter template, draft the Project Charter and gain input and alignment with key stakeholders.
  2. If there is an Executive Steering Group, the ESG should sign off on the charter.
  3. Use the Project Charter to create a more detailed project plan.
  4. Refer back to the charter from time to time.

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