[Project Charter] What? Why? & How? – All You Need To Know

What is Project Charter?

A Project charter is a central document that defines fundamental information about a project like Scope, Objective, Stakeholders, and Objective etc. It can be called as Project introduction which is used to take initial authorization to proceed with the projects.
Some people call it with the different term like Business Case, Statement Of Work, Estimate Response Document etc. I mean, the purpose of these documents are similar and used to describe the overall project in short so that everyone involved in the project is aware of its purpose and objectives..
“A project charter is a document that states a project exists and provides the project manager with written authority to begin work.”.

Why Project Charter?

Project Charter provides a picture of project i.e. where is it going? Why is it required? What is the budget? Who will work? Who will be involved in an overall project? What is the scope of the project? What is the duration? What resource will be required? Etc. the charter not only establishes basic information but also that it reflects the key stakeholders’ common vision. It avoids miscommunication problem drastically and saves lot of time.
It helps the project manager to keep everyone on the same page before starting and while implementing the project. It’s a short but enough to understand the project overview and its purpose. It’s very important because it is short and written in the very simple language without any technical jargon, hence easy for managers/senior managers/Project Sponsors to understand and provide signed off for project approval i.e. green signal to start. Once created, the document is rarely (if ever) amended.

When should it be prepared?

As explained earlier, Project Charter used to describe the project overview and fundamentals to take the initial project sign off from project sponsors to go ahead with the project, hence a Project Charter is created early in the project lifecycle (before the project is staffed and the business is running for a delivery date). It is usually created collaboratively as a team and shared with stakeholders upon completion.
Usually, it’s a first action item in the project plan to make every contributor on the same page before starting the project.
Please be advised that a project charter is an interactive process and should be revised after project participant’s feedback.

Who should be involved in Project Charter preparation?

A Project Charter is described overall project and project fundamental, hence it is advisable to include the full team to create. In some of the project, only project manager work on it alone and later share it with everyone but it’s not a good practice. It should be created by the team so that each aspect of the project is covered clearly before it is out of Project Sponsor’s sign off.

How to prepare Project Charter?

There is no standard template for Project Charter. It can either short or long detailed document but it is always advisable to make it short because people usually avoid reading long documents. Hence, keep Project Charter to the maximum of 5 pages long. I prepare the maximum of 3-4 pages to keep it simple.
It’s a document but it could also be prepared in presentation and it’s totally projected owner’s choice to choose the document type.
To prepare the Project Charter, one should be able to identify major elements/sections of the document.
#1. Background It should describe the project example, Why this project is required? Which problem encouraging starting the project? What are the opportunities available? This section should be articulated properly and any person should be able to understand your view easily. Basic elements of your project should be described in this section.

#2. Goals It should explain the detailed GOAL of your project i.e. What benefit it will produce to the client? It should be always in numbers to add high weight age on project’s need.It’s essential that upon reading project goals you clearly understand what you consider to be a successful part of your project and how you measure that.
#3. Scope It should explain the team’s deliverable in project i.e. What actions will your team will perform and what actions will not? It helps to make everything clear and also to eliminate any confusion in the future.
#4. Key Stakeholders Make a list of people involved in your project with their title i.e. Manager, Developer, QA, BA etc. If you don’t know names of individuals, list the title of the required position and department. Also, mention other people who will be directly affected by the project and need to know about the project’s progress.
#5. Project Milestones Establish significant dates of your project: start date, end date, invoicing dates. It’s important to understand that these dates are merely guesses. When writing the charter you don’t have the final date of each activity.
#6. Project Budget Explain the cost involved in the project and try to make note of non-recurring and monthly recurring costs separately. This is required to know the return on investment for managements.
#7. Project participants Mention what people need to be involved in the project and clearly, highlight their roles.
#8. Constraints It’s nothing but the bottleneck in the successful implementation of your project i.e. the limiting factors that impact your project in a particular way. For example, when developing a new website the number of available programmers and technical limitations (platform, coding language, etc.) must be considered.
#9. Assumptions Factors that you are relying on in order to succeed in your project. These factors are considered to be true, but without including proof. Example, Resources will always be available in each phase of the project etc.
#10. Risks & Dependencies Carefully identify and clearly articulate the risks involved in the implementation of your project.
A few examples:
1.Tight time-frame
2.Technical risks
3.Dependencies with other parties
4.Lack of Resources or Knowledge
#11. Communication
Describe the communication plan i.e. how the project manager will communicate with project owners, participants, and stakeholders through the project.