How To Develop A Project Charter
What is a Project Charter?
A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. The temporary nature of projects indicates that a project has a definite beginning and end. Thus a project is a temporary organization structure and it will be dissolved when it is completed.
How do we start a project, a temporary organization? Who can give us the authority to form set up this temporary endeavor to create a unique output? The answer lies in a document called Project Charter. The Project Charter is the project’s “license to do business.” The Project Charter, usually signed off by the Project Sponsor, authorize the project to be formed. The roles of the Project Charter are:
- To get approval to proceed with the project and obtain sufficient approval for resources to move to the next phase of the project.
- To communicate to stakeholders and other interested parties the mission and the project’s objectives; and
- To communicate to the project team members what they are expected to accomplish.
The Project Charter is a key document that describes a project in a coherent way although the details about the project at this stage are still very high level and sketchy. It will be gradually elaborated, as details emerged, into a detail project plan.
Key contents of the Project Charter includes, but not limited to, project purpose or justification, objectives and related success criteria, high-level description of the deliverable, assumptions and constraints, scope, risk, summary milestone schedule, summary budget and approval requirements.
Steps of Project Charter development
Developing a Project Charter is a 3 steps process:
- Collect information
- Write the Project Charter
- Approval and Sign off
Step 1: Collect Information
To collect the information needed for a Project Charter, we can use a simple methodology of 5W1H, as shown in the following table:
The answers to the questions in the above table can be collected from a variety of sources:
- Project Statement of Work: for in-house project, the Project Sponsor would have some ideas about what the project should be doing. Usually this information is documented as a Statement of Work (or SOW). If SOW is non-existent, you can meet and interview the Project Sponsor to obtain information about the proposed project.
- Business Case (if available): A business case is document that serves as decision support and planning tool. It documents a project’s likely consequences of business actions. It contains useful information such as Cost, Budget, Assumption, Constraints and Risks.
- Agreements or bid documents: For external projects, useful information can be obtained from the agreements or bid documents from the customers.
Talk the Project Sponsor to get the necessary information if it is not available from existing documents or data sources.
Step 2: Write the Project Charter
Once you have gathered all necessary information (i.e., you have the answers to the 5W1H), you are ready to write the project charter. Writing the project charter involved two activities:
- Get a blank template for Project Charter. Usually the project organization keeps a collection of templates for frequently used project documents. Project Charter is needed for every project and thus it make sense to keep a template and this will help the project staff to develop project charter more quickly.
- Fill up the project charter template with the relevant information collected in the previous step.
Step 3: Approval and Sign off
Once the writing of a project charter is completed. It is prudent to show it to the Project Sponsor and to seek his feedback on how the document can be fine-tuned. After that the Project Charter can be submitted to the Project Sponsor for formal Approval and sign off.
Well, “A Project Is Born” when the Project Charter is approved.
An example of Project Charter
The Project Charter of a project to develop a 5-Day PMP Exam Preparation course is available at below:.
Although a Project Charter looks simple, it is a very important document. It formally declares the existence of a project. It is also the basis for the developing the project plan.