A project charter is a short document used in project management, also called a project definition or project statement. It describes the scope (features and functions of the product), the objectives and stakeholders of the project, as well as how to carry it out. In short, it is a summary of a project. It is also a formal project authorization and a primary sales document.
The project charter is made before the project. Depending on the project charter, the project might begin or not. The project charter helps decide whether the project should be started by introducing the goals and describing the process.
Project charters have several goals. First of all, it helps decide whether to take on the project. Secondly, it describes the risks and provides estimations of the project. It also serves as a baseline throughout the project. Finally, it defines the responsibilities of stakeholders.
How do project charters look like?
A project charter is not a long document: it is usually only 2-3 pages long. It also often refers to other documents, related to the project. However, there are several elements, usually found in every project charter. The project charter defines the reasons for the project, the objectives, the constraints and risks, main stakeholders, benefits of the project, and timeline.
Project charters commonly start with the date, the name of the project, project manager and sponsor. The project manager is usually the one that writes the charter, but the sponsor is the main supporter of the project. The sponsor and the manager communicate about the project, and the manager puts it all in the project charter. The sponsor has more power than the project manager and can replace the project manager if they seem unfit for managing the project.
Secondly, a goal is mentioned. The goal should be simple, such as “organise a particular event”. It should be related to the benefits. It should also be clear what benefits the project would provide.
Thirdly, requirements to make the project successful are set out. You can list human resources and processes that will have to be carried out. You can also list such criteria as how many people have to be found, customer satisfaction improved by 50% within a certain time, etc. Resources should not be forgotten, such as authority, stakeholders, and budget. It is also recommended to define the communication between the project manager, stakeholders, and team members.
Then, state the risks, dependencies and constraints. It could help avoid misunderstandings when developing the project. Risks can include many things: most projects have one or two major risks, such as security, competition, etc. Dependencies mean taking into account whatever might affect your project, such as particular suppliers. Constraints are something similar. Think about what problems you could encounter. It could be the materials, budget, time, and so on.
Finally, consider the timeline and schedule. Sometimes there are clear milestones and phases you must complete before moving to another one. It is important to plan such things.
Now you know what is a project charter and why they are important. They do not only allow to determine whether it’s worth taking on the project: they are also a formal project authorization. They also define the responsibilities of the stakeholders and serve as a baseline throughout the project. The main components of the project charter are the project’s goals, benefits, requirements, risks and timeline.
Finally, when your project charter is finished and approved, rejoice! Now you can start working on the project itself. Begin by gathering the team and clearly explaining the goal and objectives of the project. Strive for continuous improvement. Kanban boards, can help visualize the workflow, track progress, and ensure improvement. They are a beneficial tool for anyone in project management. And the project charter that you made will serve as a baseline and a primary sales document throughout the project.
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