Project Charter

A document that formally authorizes a project, outlining its objectives, scope, and stakeholders.

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What is a Project Charter?

A project charter is a critical document in the project management space, as it establishes the foundation of any project. It describes the project’s purpose, scope, aims, and the stakeholders involved, thereby outlining the direction and structure of the undertaken activity.

Derived from the tenets of project management, the Project Charter marks the formal beginning of a project. It provides guidance and a reference process throughout the project’s lifetime, aiming to achieve clarity, direction, and focus for all participants.

Origins of the Project Charter

The concept of a project charter arose from the field of project management, where it is used to duly authorize the existence of a project and provide the project manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to the project’s activities. The project charter is the result of this phase. In most cases, it is a document prepared by the project sponsor or initiator.

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Why are Project Charters Important?

Project charters are indispensable in guiding projects to success. They embody the role of a foundational document (a backbone) that defines and shapes the entire course of a project. Let’s explore some more key reasons explaining the importance of project charters.

  • Clearly and concisely defines the project’s scope, ensuring everyone understands its aims and boundaries.
  • It grants the project manager authority to allocate resources and make critical decisions.
  • Acts as a central reference, guiding all project activities and decisions.
  • Prevents aimless execution, reducing inefficiencies and potential project failure.
  • It is essential for effective stakeholder communication, aligning all parties with the project’s objectives, scope, and deliverables.
  • Serves as a roadmap, outlining key objectives, deliverables, and milestones to keep the project on track and aligned with its goals.
  • Provides a framework for project control, aiding in monitoring and managing performance against set standards, timelines, and budgets.
  • Enhances stakeholder engagement by aligning expectations and reducing misunderstandings or conflicts during execution.
  • Empowers the project manager with decision-making capabilities and resource management, essential for effective leadership and achieving objectives.

What are the 10 Components of a Project Charter?

A project charter typically includes several key components, each crucial in defining the project. Essential elements like the project’s purpose, measurable objectives, high-level requirements, and assumed risks create a comprehensive blueprint for project execution.

A project charter may include the project’s budget, key stakeholders, approval requirements, the project manager’s authority, and a communication plan.

The intricacy and depth of these components are tailored to suit any project’s unique nature and complexity, ensuring a unique approach for each initiative. Let’s delve into these pivotal components to understand their role in shaping and guiding a project.

1. Project Purpose or Justification

The project purpose or justification is a critical component of the project charter, offering a clear explanation of why the project is being undertaken. This section outlines the project’s necessity and its anticipated benefits, helping to align the project with the organization’s strategic goals.

2. Measurable Project Objectives and Success Criteria

Measurable objectives and related success criteria form the backbone of the project charter. They provide specific, quantifiable goals that the project aims to achieve. They are benchmarks for evaluating project success and guiding the team’s focus.

3. High-Level Requirements

High-level requirements in the project charter define the fundamental needs that the project must fulfill. This section outlines the essential expectations and constraints, offering a broad view of what the project should accomplish.

4. Assumed Risks

Identifying assumed risks in the charter is crucial for proactive project planning. This component outlines potential challenges and obstacles the project might face, preparing the team for effective risk management strategies.

5. Summary Milestone Schedule

The summary milestone schedule in the project charter provides a high-level timeline of key project phases and milestones. This schedule acts as a preliminary roadmap, guiding project planning and execution.

6. Project Budget

The charter often includes a project budget detailing the estimated costs associated with the project. This financial outline is essential for resource allocation and financial planning.

7. Key Stakeholders

Identifying and listing key stakeholders in the charter is vital for effective communication and engagement. This section lists the individuals or groups with a vested interest in the project, highlighting their roles and influence.

8. Project Approval Requirements

The project charter outlines the project approval requirements, specifying the criteria and processes for gaining formal approval. This ensures clarity in decision-making and project progression.

9. Assigned Project Manager and Authority Level

The assigned project manager and their authority level are defined in the project charter. This section establishes the project manager’s role, responsibilities, and the extent of their decision-making power.

10. Stakeholder Communication Plan

A stakeholder communication plan in the project charter outlines how information will be shared with stakeholders. This plan ensures timely and effective communication throughout the project life cycle.

How to Create a Project Charter in 5 Steps

Generally speaking, several steps are used in creating a project charter template. These include determining the purpose or justification for the project, establishing the project’s objectives and deliverables, developing a list of participants, defining the project’s scope, determining the stakeholders, and defining the project’s budget and schedule.

1. Define the Project’s Purpose or Justification

The first step in creating a project charter is to define the project’s purpose or justification. This involves identifying the business need or opportunity the project intends to address. The project’s purpose or explanation should be clearly defined and aligned with the organization’s strategic objectives.

2. Identify the Project’s Objectives and Deliverables

The next step is to identify the project’s objectives and deliverables. The project’s goals should be clearly defined and measurable, providing a clear roadmap for the project’s execution. The project’s deliverables should be clearly defined and aligned with the project’s objectives.

3. Define the Project’s Scope

The next step is to define the project’s scope. The project’s scope should be clearly defined, outlining the project’s boundaries. The project’s scope should also include the project’s deliverables, the work required to produce these deliverables, and the project’s boundaries.

4. Identify the Project’s Stakeholders

The next step in creating the charter is identifying the project’s stakeholders. The project’s stakeholders are individuals or groups interested in the project’s outcomes or are affected by the project’s outcomes. The project’s stakeholders should be identified, and their roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined.

5. Outline the Project’s Budget and Schedule

The final step in creating the charter is to outline the project’s budget and schedule. The project’s budget should be clearly defined, outlining the resources required for the project’s execution. The project’s schedule should be clearly defined, outlining the project’s milestones and deadlines.

Project Charters: A Foundation for Project Success

In conclusion, the project charter is a critical tool in project management. It clearly defines the project, establishes the project manager’s authority, and serves as a reference point for all project activities.

Creating a project charter involving the collaborative efforts of project sponsors, managers, and key stakeholders is a fundamental step in initiating any project.
This process encompasses defining the project’s purpose, setting clear objectives and deliverables, outlining the project scope, identifying stakeholders, and detailing the budget and schedule.

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