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How to Write a Project Charter?

write a project charter

If you work in the project management domain, starting a new project may sound exciting. However, there are few steps that you need to take before you can propose or initiate the project. Yes! We are talking about a project charter that you can present to your stakeholders and others to get everyone on board with respect to the project vision and goals. 

From presenting the right information to using the right format for a project charter, it can sound like an intimidating task. But, don’t worry, we have got your back. In this guide, we mention how to write a project charter to present the information to your stakeholders in the most straightforward yet presentable manner.  

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What Is a Project Charter?

A project charter is a document that includes all the details regarding the project scope, objectives, responsibilities as well as the members who are associated with the project. It is an elevator pitch of the project in order to get approval from the stakeholders. 

Project managers use a project charter for the following: 

  • Authorizing the project
  • Use it as a reference document throughout the entire project lifecycle. 
  • Serving the charter as a contract to hold the members accountable for their roles and responsibilities.

Project Charter vs Project Plan vs Project Brief vs Business Case

Basis  Project Charter  Project Plan  Project Brief  Business Case
When are they prepared? A project charter is prepared before the start of a project. Once the project charter is approved, a project plan is created.  The Project brief is created after the official approval of the project. A business case is created in place of a project charter if the project scope is large and more complex. 
Who prepares them? The project sponsor is responsible for creating a project charter. The project manager is responsible for creating a project plan.  The project manager is responsible for creating a project  A business case is prepared by the project sponsors. 
Purpose A project charter acts as a pitch to the key stakeholders explaining the project goals, objectives, scope, and responsibilities.  A project plan is built using the project charter to further define the roles, allocate budgets, milestones and deliverables, and streamline the entire project work.  A project brief offers insights into why a particular project is a good idea and what are the activities or tasks that would be undertaken for the project. It is considered a condensed version of the project plan.   A business case is created as a pitch when the scope of a project is quite large along with the requirement for large-scale investment. 
Intended Audience The Project charter is created for stakeholders and project managers.  The Project plan is created for the project team.  The Project briefs are created for the project team and stakeholders.  The Business case is created for stakeholders and project managers. 

How to write a Project Charter?

Now that you know what a project charter is and what it entails. It is important to understand and learn how to write a project charter that holds the power to persuade the stakeholders to approve the project. Here is the basic process of a project charter. 

Opt for a Template 

The first step to writing a project charter is selecting a template from a myriad of options available online. You can pick up one template or combine two or three to create a format that best serves the type of your project. 

Name the Project 

The first step to writing a project charter is naming the project and ensuring that it is as specific as it can be. For instance, ‘Employee Wellness program’ or ‘Software update to improve UX for online mobile payments’ are some specific and straightforward project names that specify the project goals. 

Read More – What Is Project Life Cycle and Project Managemnet Process groups

Defining Purpose, Goals, & Project Specifications 

This is a section of the project charter that presents the business case and explains the following questions. 

  • What is the reason for proposing the project, how it will be helpful, and what is going to be the impact of the project on the organization. 
  • What the project entails. 
  • What is the project going to accomplish and how does it fits into the larger organizational goal.  

Project Budget

The project charter then also defines how much the entire project is going to cost and where the investment will come from. This can also include any additional resources required for the project execution. 

Deliverables 

This section will define what will be the product, service, or outcome from the completion of the proposed project. Deliverables can also include your specific measurements of success for the project. Further, you will also have to define how you are going to determine whether the goals are accomplished or what metrics are used for determining them. 

Assumptions 

A project charter then also involves a section where the project assumptions are added. These are unforeseen events or circumstances that may occur during the project lifecycle. A project sponsor or project manager lists down these assumptions, where these events are likely to be considered true, actual, or certain despite the lack of information to support it. 

Scope and Risk

The project charter should lay out the project scope and the anticipated or known risks, challenges, or constraints and how you are going to address them throughout the lifecycle of the project. 

Learn More – Critical Path Method in Project Management

Milestone or Timeframe

This section in the project charter states the start dates and end dates for each phase of the project. Providing an entire project timeline will help the stakeholders understand the project better. 

Read In Detail – Top 9 Essential Documents for Project Management Success

Key Stakeholders

A project charter should also include a list of key stakeholders for the proposed project as it will help the project team accountable to the individuals who will be affected by the project. 

Team Roles and Responsibilities 

Listing the people associated with the project is another important aspect that needs to be mentioned in the project charter. Most of the project charters simply go with a format where the individual name is listed along with their title and team. However, you also have the freedom to further break down the responsibilities of each member of the team

Identified Project Managers 

This is a section where the project sponsor records the identified project manager for the proposed project and further defines his or her authority. 

Review the Project Charter 

Before sending the project charter forward, it is crucial to review it one more time to ensure that it is accurate and has all the essential information. 

Project Sponsor (Signature)

Now, the project sponsor or the initiator of the project charter signs it. A sponsor’s signature is necessary for authorizing the project charter and sending it forward for other approvals. 

Present the Charter for Approval 

The final step is to present the project charter to the stakeholders, clients, or sponsors through a structured presentation. You can do this over a meeting or through a Powerpoint presentation with supporting media.

Tips to make the Project Charter better

To guarantee project approval, it is important to present the project charter one-on-one with the stakeholders, sponsors, or other important people associated with the project. Merely attaching the project charter to an email is not sufficient, here are some tips to make the project charter better and get the approval that you are looking for. 

  • To make your project charter a bit attractive, it is always a good idea to make it more visual by adding images or design elements. You can add different charts such as a Gantt chart to showcase the milestones for the project. Similarly, you can add other reports or important visuals to highlight the project metrics. 
  • It is always a good idea to restructure or adjust the presentation style of your project charter as per the intended audience. 
  • Expecting questions during the presentation of the project charter can help you prepare answers beforehand and explain to the respective stakeholders or other crucial members about the project more clearly. 
  • You might have to take a print out of your charter for presenting it later, but while you put it together, it is important to keep the document on a drive or another location where it is accessible by multiple people from the team. 

Conclusion

Now you know how to write an outstanding project charter that can guarantee you project approval. A good project charter, which is presented neatly with all the necessary details, is the key to getting approval for the project from the stakeholder, clients, or other sponsors. 

After the successful approval from the respective individuals, it’s time to move towards project planning and executing the project in accordance with the set objectives and goals.

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