Every project should have a project charter, and your project management office (PMO) should support the creation of the document each time.

In our complete overview of the project charter, we’re going to look at:

  • The function of a project charter
  • What a project charter comprises of
  • The creation process of a project charter
  • How to monitor the delivery of a project charter

And we will deep-dive into each of these topics in the coming articles to give you more detailed information and processes.

What is a project charter?

A project charter is a high-level overview of what a project will achieve and how it will be done. It’s a short, formal document that your projects can refer back to during the working process to ensure it’s on track.

It will be one of the first planning documents created for a project. It’ll tackle elements like the objectives expected, the budget and people needed, and what success will look like.

Depending on how your PMO functions, it can also be used to make the initial business case for your project to get commissioned. The project charter may need to be created before the project is confirmed as a tool to convince the project sponsor and stakeholders of its need.

It may come after the project is confirmed and be given to the sponsor and stakeholders as a way for them to understand the project and hold it accountable.

We’ll look at the details of what makes a project charter in the next article.

What are the key components of a project charter?

In every project charter, you can expect the same brief information. This means you’ll be able to make a template that you can use for every project within your office.

You should make sure that every project charter includes:

  • The objective of the project
  • The reason or business justification for the project
  • The people who will be involved in the project
  • The scope of the project
  • The overall timeline and budget of the project
  • The risks, assumptions, and constraints of the project
  • What defines success for the project

We’ll give you more guidance about what you can expect to be written in each section of your project charter.

How do I create a project charter?

A project charter should be the responsibility of the project manager, with support from your PMO.

You need to make sure that a project charter can be summed up succinctly. Keep the questions in your charter template direct and able to be answered clearly without digging into too much details.

The charter can be used to guide deeper planning as the project progresses, but initially, it should be simple.

Encourage your project managers to collaborate with their project team when creating the charter. Having their experience and expertise at the beginning of the project can help them feel engaged in the process and also spot potential issues early on in the project.

How do I follow up on the project charter?

You can think of a project charter as a deal or agreement between the project manager and the project sponsor or stakeholders. This means it can be used to follow the progress of the project and its success.

The charter should act as a point of reference for the project, with any deviance from the plan needing sign-off. There should be general milestones listed in the project, which can be ticked off throughout.

There will be more detailed activities and milestones in a deeper plan, but they need to match up to the charter.

It can also be used for dependency and resource planning. It encourages everyone working on the project to think ahead and plan each step accurately.

In summary

A project charter will be packed with information but will be brief at the same time. It will be the document that leads all other project planning and will be the document that everyone looks to on project completion to ensure the project has been delivered successfully.