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This Charter module consists of five steps. Click on Get Started to learn more about this module.
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All project charters must be in writing and signed off by the appropriate stakeholders. If your current project does not have a formal, written project charter, then one should be created immediately. It would then be submitted to the project sponsor and other key stakeholders for review, revision, and written approval.
What Every Project Charter Should Include
While charters are to be uniquely written for each specific project, they should contain at least the following aspects:
1. Project Authorization
A brief written statement that will identify the authorized project by name and/or number.
2. Project Manager Authorization
The name of the project manager, including a description of their responsibilities, should be clearly identified.
3. Key Stakeholders
All key stakeholders identified in the project proposal should identified. These stakeholders are those people or departments that can positively or negatively influence the success or failure of the project, Their functions and roles must also be defined clearly to avoid role confusion as the project goes forward.
4. Project Goal(s)
A clear, agreed-upon, goal statement is vital to the success of the project. The goal statement in the project charter must be identical to the goal established in the approved project proposal. The goal must be SMART:
- Relevant [to the corporate strategy]
5. Project Priorities
A list of the project priorities (time, cost, scope, etc.) must be included and ideally listed in the order importance. These priorities should remain constant throughout the project. The importance of conveying project priorities at the onset of the project to the project manager cannot be stressed enough.
6. Scope Statement
A scope statement describes the major activities of the project in such a way that it will be evident if extra work is added later on. Sometimes it is also advisable to include what is not in the scope of the project. The scope statement in the project charter must reflect the approved scope described in the project proposal, although it may further expand on its details. If a scope statement is not included in the project charter, it will then need to be developed as part of the project scope planning efforts.
7. Product Requirements
Product requirements are generally identified either by marketing personnel or the customer–what the product is expected to do and how it must perform. Requirements at this stage are preliminary and will be further defined during the project planning processes. Remember, often customers will not know what they want until they know what can be provided, so initial product requirements can be considered “soft.” Product requirements ought to be consistent with those outlined in the approved project proposal. They are sometimes separately detailed in a document referred to as the Marketing Requirements Document (MRD).
8. Project Assumptions
Any and all assumptions related to the project should be clearly described to prevent disagreements later. These assumptions may include the availability of specific resources, information, funding, and project personnel skills.
9. Project Constraints & Boundaries
Any constraints or boundaries placed on the project should be clearly detailed. These constraints could include budget/funding limits, time constraints, regulations, or quality standards that must be met.
10. Initial Project Risks
Any identifiable obstacles or risks that might prevent successfully achieving project goals must be considered. Each risk must be analyzed, quantified, and prioritized as much as possible given the information available at the start of the project. Risk responses, including mitigations, risk sharing, risk avoidance, and risk tolerances should be described.
11. List of Deliverables
The project charter should include a list of deliverables that will be produced by the project for eventual submission to a customer or a production manager for acceptance. There can be both intermediate and end deliverables.
12. Cost Estimates
Any cost estimates that were developed and approved in the project proposal should be reflected in the project charter. These estimates may address:
- How fixed is the budget?
- Why was it set at ($$$)?
- What margin of error (how far over the budget or how late on delivery) will still allow the project to be considered successful?
- Was there enough known information to consider this estimate reliable?
13. Schedule Estimates
The project charter should also include any project duration estimates that were developed and approved in the project proposal. These might address the following aspects:
- How was the project deadline decided?
- Why does the project need to be finished by the desired deadline?
- Is this a reliable estimate?
14. Integrated Change Control
The project charter should also outline how changes to the project charter, or the approved project management plan, will be managed. In addition to identifying what types of changes may be allowed, detailed information on who has the authority to accept or reject changes should be made clear.
15. Success Criteria
In addition to the project goals the project charter needs to describe the success criteria of a project. Even if a project does not finish on time, on budget, or with the full scope completed, it still may be considered to be a success. Sound success criteria help keep the project team motivated.