A Project Charter, also known as a project statement of project definition, is a reference document that provides the scope, objective, and participants in the project. It is a document that formalizes a project and gives the manager authority over it. Read the article that follows to learn what are the basic sections of the project charter, plus you can download our free template to get a better understanding of it.
The Importance of the Project Charter Document
Project Charter serves as a contract that holds everyone accountable. Eric Verzuh’s book The Portable MBA in Project Management describes the project charter document in this way.
“A project charter announces that a new project has begun. The purpose of the charter is to demonstrate management support for the project and the project manager. It is a simple, powerful tool, but it is not necessarily complex. As an announcement, it can take the form of a memo, a letter, or an e-mail. It contains the name and purpose of the project, the project manager’s name, and a statement of support from the issuer. The charter is sent to everyone who may be associated with the project, reaching as wide an audience as practical because its intent is to give notice of the new project and the new project manager.”
The main goals of project charters are to help project managers to:
- Act as a contract.
- Authorize the project.
- Serve as a baseline.
- Provide shared understanding.
This document serves to help you establish the path of the project. So, never underestimate it.
Project charter is a short document that links to more detailed documents. If your organization have a standard document, you can use that one. But if it doesn’t have one, you have the right to include all information you find most beneficial to the project. In fact, project charter can be a flexible document.
The basic outline may include:
- Project Backgrounds/Scope/Description
- Primary Objectives – ‘SMART’
- Identified Risks
- Comment Section
The content of the project charter may differ because every project is different. It is important to cover the key aspects of the project.
Things to Consider
Having a lot of documents that are necessary to run a project, project charter may seem redundant for creation. The other project management documents provide details on the items they describe, while the project charter provides short descriptions. Because of this, many believe that this is an extra document.
However, it is the first phase, and should be included in the documentation. Even though it is a general document, project charter comes before everything else. It provides authority of the project manager.
Our template is a base to get started. It is modified, so you can use it in order to fit the specific project or needs of the customer. This is just a starting point. Feel free to download PM Tips template, and dive into the PM documentation.
And, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post them in the comments section at the end.