A project management office (PMO) needs to help and support project managers to write an effective project charter. Our five-step guide to how to write a project charter will help you guide your project managers to write a clear document.

You want to ensure that the project charter is a living document that has enough detail to help keep the project accountable and it also clear, succinct, and easily understandable by sponsors and stakeholders.

A clear process to produce a project charter will also make sure that there is uniformity across projects. This will help your PMO analyse issues such as how often a charter gets amended or is deviated from.

Here are our five simple steps to ensure your projects will write an effective project charter.

1.      Have a template

Having a template for your project manager to follow when writing a project charter will ensure you get the document that’s needed.

Your template should have the seven sections that a project charter requires. Within these sections, you need to have simple and clear questions to make sure the high-level information gets included in the charter.

The template you have can be a dynamic document, and your PMO can learn the best questions to include over time. Giving strong guidance on what you want to see in a project charter will ensure you have charters that can be compared from project to project as well.

2.      Define the people who need to be involved

A project charter has a range of purposes, including acting like an agreement between the project and its stakeholders.

With that, you need to make sure the right people are invited to give input and to sign off on it. Ensure that there aren’t too many people asked to give their input – the process should be reasonably swift, and the finer details will come later in budgeting and scheduling documents.

You’ll want to bring in project team members to help put together the project charter and then invite the project’s C-suite sponsor and key stakeholders to review and sign off on it, for example.

3.      Bring in experts for each section

Although a project charter doesn’t need a lot of detail, the information does need to be accurate. Since a project charter can be used to hold a project accountable, the details that it does contain should help rather than hinder progress.

For example, you can consider bringing in:

  • Your HR department when looking at the resources and skills needed for the project
  • Technical and subject-matter experts to ensure the project timeline is realistic
  • The project sponsor to make sure that the project expectations are in line with business needs

Getting these elements right for the charter will guide the further work that will be done on these and other planning elements later on in the project process.

4.      Work with the project team

Bringing in the people who will work on the project to define its parameters and requirements will give the project a boost.

It is a way to increase worker engagement. When they get to have a say in what the project will look like, how it will be managed, and what success will look like, they will have more drive to bring the charter to realisation.

You can encourage your project managers to bring in the team through workshops, where they give different sections to team members who get to start the outlining process for the charter. If this isn’t viable, the PM can still create the doc and seek input and approval from their team.

5.      Send the document for sign-off

Sign-off on anything in a project can be a blocker for getting things done. It’s important to understand who it is necessary to ask for sign-off from and not seek too many people’s agreement.

When the project charter is ready for sign-off, be clear with every stakeholder how soon they need to return their approval. Be sure you know who any second-in-command is in case there are potential delays.

Writing a project charter

Following our five steps to creating a project charter will ensure a speedy and organised process that includes all the right people and supports the next steps in the project planning stage.