A project charter is an elevator pitch of your project objectives, project scope, and project responsibilities in order to get approval from key project stakeholders. In the charter, you should provide a short, succinct explanation of the main elements of your project before you get started. By creating a project charter before getting started on other, more in-depth project planning documents, you can get approval or course-correct if necessary.
10+ Project Charter Samples
1. Project Charter
2. College Project Charter
3. Training Project Charter
4. Sample Project Charter
5. Simple Project Charter
6. Company Project Charter
7. Basic Project Charter
8. Formal Project Charter
9. Project Charter Format
10. Business Project Charter
11. Printable Project Charter
What is the Purpose of a Project Charter?
- It defines the goals, objectives, and basic purpose of the work (all of which will ultimately feed into your project plan).
- It creates a shared understanding of the project’s goals, objectives, and resourcing requirements, before you start scoping these out further and in more depth.
- It allows you to present all of the above to the project stakeholders in order to get buy-in, investment, and authorization to go ahead.
How to Create a Project Charter?
1. State the Project Information
This first section in your project charter is where you’ll include your project’s general information, such as its name, description and who are the project sponsor, project manager, team members and stakeholders.
2. Define Project Team Roles & Responsibilities
An important function of a project charter is to document who are your team members and what their roles and responsibilities are. You should also identify the main stakeholders. It’s always crucial to note the stakeholders in any project for they’re the ones who you’ll be reporting to and, in a sense, managing their expectations. The sooner you know who they are, the sooner you can build a productive stakeholder management plan.
3. Identify Project Goals and Project Objectives
It’s important for project managers to differentiate between these two. Project goals are the high-level benefits that the project should generate, while project objectives are the specific milestones or steps that are needed to complete them. If you don’t have a clear target your project is going to miss the mark.
4. Present a Business Case
A project charter needs a business case because it essentially states the reasons for undertaking the project. It helps project managers explain what are the business needs that the project will meet and what are the expected financial benefits and return on investment for project stakeholders. A good way to sell the project is to have a sense of what good the project will bring to sponsors and stakeholders. Figure out what those benefits are and list them here.
5. Outline the Project Scope
What are the in-scope and out-of-scope items? Scope is the boundaries of your project, such as its start date and when it concludes. So, what are the in-scope items, such as those parts of the project process as opposed to tasks or actions that lay outside the step-by-step process of the project? Outline your key project deliverables and milestones. Later, during the planning phase, you’ll need to create a scope statement that describes the project scope in more depth.
6. Create a Project Timeline
A project timeline is a simplified version of your project schedule. This project timeline should show key deliverables, milestones and project stages, so that stakeholders understand the big picture.
7. Build the Project Budget
While you’ll go into greater detail when you create the project budget, here is where you want to get a ballpark figure on what project costs you expect. Define the budget for the project and who will have spending authority. Include the estimated costs for the tasks you’ve defined, but be aware that new project requirements and tasks will require adjustment of this budget.
8. Note Key Assumptions & Constraints
It’s important to write down all the assumptions or constraints that can have an impact on the development or execution of your project plan. Noting key assumptions is very important for stakeholder management, as setting clear expectations is key to success. You also want to have at least an outline of how you’re going to deal with project constraints. If you don’t cover it now, you’ll have to play catch-up later.
9. Log Key Project Risks
Identify all potential risks that could arise in the project so you’re not taken by surprise. Here you’ll want to highlight the most probable or impactful risks so that stakeholders are aware of them early on. This should be followed up by a risk register and risk management plan in your project plan, where you detail how you’ll resolve those risks and who on the team is responsible for catching and fixing them.
10. Define Project Requirements and Success Criteria
The project management team and project stakeholders must reach an agreement in terms of success criteria. The most common aspects to determine project success are the triple constraint elements, time, cost and scope. But depending on the project, there can be many project requirements such as risk tolerance levels and quality standards.
What is the difference between a project charter and a business case?
A project charter and business case have the same fundamentals: these are both tools to pitch a project to the appropriate stakeholders. The main difference between a project charter and a business case is scope.
What are the benefits of a project charter?
It helps create a project roadmap. One of the main purposes of your project charter is to establish expectations for the project. Whenever the team has doubts about the project’s direction, they can look to the project charter for guidance. It is also used to market the project to stakeholders; a well-drafted project charter serves as your project’s principal internal marketing document, which you can show to stakeholders, managers, executives, and clients to help justify the cost, secure resources, and gain buy-in.
Writing a project charter requires a bit of time and attention up front, but the investment will be well worth the effort. Your project charter will serve as a guiding document that keeps the team aligned to a common vision and boosts stakeholder confidence in your project. To help you get started making the project charter, download our free sample templates above to use as your guide!
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