Complete Guide to Making a Clear, Effective Project Charter

Struggling with creating a project charter? In the text below, we give you a complete guide!

The business culture in the older days was an arbitrary affair. Deals were pushed ahead, with managers pitching projects without defining a specific direction for their team. It was all unpredictable regarding which strategies to employ for achieving the goals set by the organization. Here is where the project charter comes to run the projects seamlessly.

To have clarity on the project to be pursued is of utmost importance if you are a contributor or an investor in a company project. After all, you must know the resource requirement of the project before signing it. A project charter accomplishes exactly that.

The time you utilize for forming a thoughtful and all-inclusive project charter will always pay off in saving your time down the line. It essentially lays out the objectives and scope of the project. Additionally, it also reveals the responsibilities and roles of the project team members. PowerPoint presentations often form the best companion to display a comprehensive charter.

Before diving into their crafting, let us explain more about project charters and their uses.

What Is a Project Charter?

Project charter

A project charter formally outlines the project details in an organization. It contains the project scope, the team members involved, budgets, milestones, and potential risks.

It authorizes any project’s existence and proves an imperative source for future reference. Without a project charter, your Scrum meetings would not have a definite direction.

An effective project charter bestows a sense of purpose on the project from start to end. It incorporates the – Why? Who? What? Where? How? for the forthcoming project. It assists the project managers in harnessing organizational resources for accomplishing the project objectives.

Every effective project charter:

  • Outlines the project objectives, aims, and scope
  • Ensures the alignment of all stakeholders and project sponsors on the project
  • Displays a lucid reference for the responsibilities of the team
  • Helps project sponsors grab the approval of investors

Who Constructs Project Charters?

Team creating project charter

The project charters are often crafted by the project managers of an organization. They hold the responsibility to initiate and conduct the project as smoothly as possible. Hence, a charter is the first document to be developed before any project commencement. It is often formed even before the start of project planning.

These project charters then get signed by the sponsors, stakeholders, clients, or other higher-ups who view the project guidelines and approve them. The project initiator’s or manager’s signature on the charter authorizes the document management.

Uses of a Project Charter

A strategic project charter helps the investors and team to perceive the business value of the defined project. It also becomes their prime reference to understand the project alignments with organizational goals.

The four uses of project charters include:

  • Project authorization – It provides authorization to the project and commitment of organizational resources towards it.
  • Project manager assignment – It designates a project manager to lead the team for successful project achievement.
  • Project goals – Every project charter defines high-level goals. It also exhibits the chief project risks and risk mitigation strategies.
  • Team management – Your company’s daily standup becomes hassle-free with it as team members know their responsibilities.

Benefits of Project Charters

Person showing thumbs up

A project’s success depends on a compelling project charter. It builds a foundation for all the projects undertaken. It is a splendid communication tool for the project investors and offers a unified direction for the project. Let us explore in detail its merits for both the organization and clients.

Merits for the team and organization:

  • Provides authority to the project managers
  • Portrays clear project guidelines
  • Determines the project value
  • Gives out budget clarity for the projects
  • Time management
  • Escalates the team morale

Merits for the clients and stakeholders:

  • Transparency and accountancy
  • Shared understanding
  • Effective marketing tool

Elements of Project Charters

An influential project charter comprises adequate information and richness of clarity for the project advancement.

What renders it effective is its ease of understanding for every individual ranging from the manager, team, or the stakeholders.

Here are some essential elements that every project charter must contain:

  • Statement of need – It covers the introduction and the scope of the project to be included in the document. Also, it mentions the project dates, sponsors, managers, and other basic details.
  • Milestones – Along with the high-level milestones, it covers the project start and end dates. You can easily portray them with a professionally tailored project management slide deck.
  • Stakeholders – For any project, stakeholder management is an imperative part of project planning. The charter takes care of stakeholder management.
  • Approvals – It deals with the approval or disapproval of the stakeholders for the project charter.
  • Project limitations – This section focuses on the assumptions and drawbacks of the project signifying its pros and cons.
  • Budget clarity – This part of the charter highlights the budget spending and the cost estimates of the required resources to be gathered for this project.
  • Team members – This section of the charter forms a vital part for appraising the team members of their project duties. It assigns project development responsibilities to them and their roles in the project.
  • Success benchmark – Every charter is incomplete without it glorifying the success criteria for the project. It incorporates the criteria for the success of your project.
  • Key deliverables – It comprises every project requirement.
  • Risk assessment – A key section of the charter that delves deep into the threats and risks that a project can face during its term. Alternatively, some risk mitigation tactics are also penned down.

Golden Tips for Writing a Project Charter

Use a Template

Leverage presentations with an eye-catching PowerPoint template to craft beautiful and neat project charters. The graphical appeal of the slide decks makes it easy for your audience to digest all the charter elements. All you have to do is edit these templates and customize them as per your need.

Team and Client Discussion

Man holding presentation

The project manager must hold a meeting with all the professionals and stakeholders involved in the project before its approval. It will help him to make the best decisions for the project for its smooth run. Onboarding the key members will also make everyone feel valued and involved in the project.

Cater to the 5 Ws; while drafting the project charter, address the 5 Ws before getting it approved:

  • What is the timeline of the project?
  • Will there be a new system for the project or an existing one?
  • Who will carry out the project?
  • What will be the communication channel?
  • Will the project need constant maintenance?

Get It Approved

Ensure to run the project charter with your team, clients, sponsors, and the management before getting the project approved. Host meetings and explain the project, proceeding with striking presentations. It will guide them to comprehend the project holistically. Finally, get the project charter signed, and you’re ready to launch your project!

A project charter offers a bird’s-eye view of the tasks and project in hand by stating a preliminary framework.

It describes everything that needs to be accomplished for a successful project. An effective project charter displays the project commitment to the organization and stakeholders alike. Once created correctly, a good project charter will help you to get your project on the right path.

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Published on April 13, 2021 by Peter Hughes; modified on November 9, 2021. Filed under: , , .

Peter Hughes is a digital marketing consultant and author. Peter has more than 10 years of experience in SEO and Internet marketing.

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