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Creating a project charter is essential for managing and tracking a project. It helps to identify who is responsible for what, assigns deadlines, and sets expectations. It’s time to get project planning underway! And what better way to start than by learning about the essentials of a project charter?
It’s essential for every project — big or small — to ensure effective and efficient project management. In this reading, I’ll try to explain everything you need to know about creating a good one. From understanding a project document to understanding its various components, you’ll be well on your way to ensuring successful project outcomes. Thanks for reading!
How to create a good project charter?
Creating a good project document is key to ensuring that your project succeeds. This document outlines the critical components of a project — from its purpose to who will be responsible for it.
While creating the charter, it’s important to keep stakeholders in mind — ensure the document is clear and concise so everyone understands what needs to happen. This document helps you organize vital project information and communicate it effectively to stakeholders.
Knowing how to create it, is one of the essential skills of a PM. A project charter is your first formal agreement with your customer, so it’s something that should be carefully crafted and reviewed before delivery.
Additionally, ensure that all stakeholders are on board with the plan from the beginning to be aware of their responsibilities. Because you are preparing this document during the initiation phase, you will write a draft initially. Still, following email and video conversations with stakeholders, there will be room for adjustments to ensure it will guide you to your project goals.
What is a Project Charter?
This is a formal document that clearly defines the project and outlines the necessary details to reach the project’s goals. You, as project manager, create it during the initiation phase, which is the first phase of the project life cycle.
Projects can be a lot of work, and ensuring that stakeholders are on board from the beginning is key to success. That’s where this project document comes in — a document that helps you organize your project and ensure everyone is satisfied with the final product.
By following these simple steps, you can create an effective document to help you navigate the project smoothly. As the document outlines vital project milestones and requirements, it also helps to clarify who is responsible for completing the project and when it will start. So, get started on your next big project — with a project charter, everything will run more smoothly!
What are the components of a project charter?
Projects can be a lot of work, and the last thing you want is to get bogged down in details. It contains key information about a project, like the summary, goals, and deliverables. A good project charter should be concise but detailed enough to provide clarity to all stakeholders. When creating your document, consult with an advisor or team member before starting work on the project. Here are some of the guiding questions:
The primary components of the charter:
The summary aims to provide an overview of the project and outline the goals you hope to accomplish. Summaries should be brief — just a few sentences at most and to the point; after the summary comes project goals and deliverables.
- “Why are we doing this project?” Remember, project goals should be SMART.
- Why do stakeholders want to do this project?
- What will the project resemble when completed?
- How will you know the project is done and when it is done?
- How will you know the project has been completed successfully?
Deliverables are specific tasks and tangible (or intangible) outcomes that enable the team to meet project goals.
- What physical or digital items will the project produce?
- Where in the conversation do the stakeholders discuss outcomes?
- What are some keywords in the conversation that tells you about project deliverables?
Consider words like output, outcomes, delivery, tasks, and responsibility.
Scope refers to the boundaries of the project. In other words, an agreed-upon understanding of what is included or excluded from a project. This includes understanding precisely who will be delivered the project and who will use the project’s end result.
You must also have a good understanding of the project’s complexity. Is it simple, with an achievable task list? Or will a lot of work, many iterations of approvals, and a large-scale procedure that will take years to finish be required?
The project’s scope also includes the schedule, cost, and resources. You must clearly define these in order to ensure that you are working inside those constraints and that the project is genuinely feasible. Poorly specified scope or significant modifications to your scope might cause budget, timing, or even project outcome issues.
Benefits & Costs
Answer the below questions when determining the benefits and costs of this project:
- What is the biggest problem you are trying to solve?
- What defines “success” or “completion” to you?
- What are the biggest risks for this project?
- What are the resources and timeline needed?
- What are the outcomes?
- What is the indirect or long-term impact?
- Who is the audience or beneficiary?
You can include misalignments here for future references. A charter can also include other sections, such as budget, costs, risks, KPIs, stakeholders, and success metrics.
Here you can see a typical project charter example:
Why do you need a project charter?
Creating a project charter is essential for any project — big or small. It helps to ensure that everyone involved with the project is on the same page, understands their role and the timeline, and is aware of the project’s objectives, goals, and deliverables. It’s also a document that can help project management, assurance, and legal teams. Keep in mind:
- The charter helps you organize vital project information,
- It helps create a framework for the work that needs to be done,
- Communicate those details to the necessary people.
- It’s also useful as a reference throughout the project life cycle since it can help stakeholders realign on the project scope, goals, and costs.
What are the benefits of having a project charter?
Project charters are valuable because they provide clarity around what needs to be done. They can also help you organize your thoughts by defining what actions will be taken on behalf of your organization or client base.
Projects can be a lot of work, and ensuring everyone is on the same page and accountable for their part can make the process much smoother. It ensures that all stakeholders are on board with the project’s vision and objectives and that everyone knows what is expected of them. Having a project charter in place helps to ensure that the project is successfully completed and that all stakeholders are happy with the final product. By being clear from the start, misunderstandings and potential conflicts can be avoided.
To conclude, a well-written project charter will give you insight into how others perceive your projects, which can help shape future efforts for greater success. Also, having one place where all this information is stored makes it easier to access when needed.
Pro Tip: Before you get started, make sure all stakeholders are on board with the goal of the project. This includes backers and sponsors. In addition, make your project charter available to all stakeholders and your project team, and review it as needed during the project initiation phase.
To recap, with a good project charter in place, the project can finally start moving forward! After that, it’s time to write the document. Use an easy-to-read, easy-to-understand format that outlines the project goals, who is responsible for achieving them, and when the project should be completed. Remember that the project charter is a living document that should be amended to reflect the ever-changing project goals and team composition.
Finally, make sure you keep all stakeholders updated on project progress and milestones so they can be fully aware of the project’s progress.