What is a project charter? It is a critical document that outlines the key information about a project. This guide discusses its importance, purpose, elements, tips for creating an effective charter, and the difference between a project plan and a project charter. Read on to learn how it can ensure your project’s success.
What is a Project Charter
A project charter is a document that outlines the key information about a project, such as its objectives, stakeholders, and resources. It is a formal agreement between the project sponsor and the project team. Typically, a project charter includes information such as the project’s scope, goals, deliverables, timelines, budget, and roles and responsibilities of team members. It is an important document as it helps establish the project’s direction and can be used as a reference throughout the project’s lifecycle.
An Example of a Project Charter
Here is an example of a project charter for a website development project:
New Website Development
This project aims to design and develop a new website for XYZ company. The website will be fully responsive, user-friendly, and optimized for search engines. The new website will include a modern design, easy navigation, and a blog feature.
- To increase website traffic by 20% in the first three months of launch
- To improve user experience and reduce bounce rate by 15%
- To increase online sales by 10% within the first six months
- XYZ company management
- Marketing team
- Sales team
- IT team
- Web designer: Jane Doe
- Web developer: Michael Johnson
- SEO specialist: David Brown
- Content writer: Emily Taylor
- Project initiation: January 1, 2023
- Website design: January 15–February 15, 2023
- Website development: March 1–April 30, 2023
- Testing and QA: May 1–June 15, 2023
- Website launch: June 30, 2023
- Budget: $50,000 (including design, development, and testing costs)
- The project charter was approved by XYZ company management on December 15, 2022
- The budget was approved by XYZ company management on December 20, 2022
Project Charter Elements
The above example would have helped us understand what is a project charter; let’s now see its key elements:
- Project title
- Project description
- Project goals
- Project manager
- Project team
- Project timeline
What is the Purpose of a Project Charter?
Knowing what is a project charter is incomplete without knowing its purpose, which is outlined below:
- Clearly define the project’s objectives, scope, and deliverables
- Identify and document the project’s stakeholders and their roles and responsibilities
- Establish a clear timeline and budget for the project
- Serve as a reference point throughout the project’s lifecycle
- Communicate the project’s goals, objectives, and key information to all stakeholders
- Provide a basis for making decisions and resolving issues that may arise during the project’s execution
- Help in the alignment of the project with the organization’s strategy and objectives
Why is a Project Charter Important?
A project charter is significant because it determines the project’s direction, conveys vital information to stakeholders, acts as a reference point throughout the project’s lifecycle, and serves as a foundation for decision-making and problem resolution. It ensures that everyone is on the same page and working toward the same objectives, and it links the project with the organization’s strategy and objectives.
How to Create a Project Charter?
- List the Scope of the Project: Clearly define the project’s objectives, scope, and deliverables.
- Present a Business Case: Outline the reasons for the project and the benefits it will bring to the organization.
- Define Project Team Roles and Responsibilities: Identify the project team members and their roles and responsibilities.
- Note Key Assumptions and Constraints: Identify any limitations or restrictions that may impact the project’s success, such as resource constraints, time constraints, or budget constraints.
- Build the Project Budget: Estimate the project’s costs and funding sources.
- Define Project Requirements and Success Criteria: Clearly outline the specific needs and success criteria for the project.
- Log Key Project Risks: Identify potential risks that may impact the project and develop a plan for managing them.
- Identify Project Goals and Project Objectives: Clearly define the specific, measurable, and achievable goals that the project aims to achieve.
- Create a Project Timeline: Develop a schedule that outlines the project’s start and end dates, as well as key milestones.
Project Charter vs Project Plan
A project charter and a project plan are two separate but related documents that are used to guide a project. A project charter is a high-level document that outlines the key information about a project, including its objectives, stakeholders, and resources. It is a formal agreement between the project sponsor and the project team and establishes the project’s direction.
On the other hand, a project plan is a more detailed document that outlines the specific tasks, timelines, and resources needed to complete the project. It includes a work breakdown structure, a Gantt chart, and a risk management plan. Simply put, the project charter is a starting point for the project, while the project plan is a roadmap for the execution of the project.
Tips for Writing a Project Charter
- Keep it simple and concise
- Define the project’s objectives
- Identify stakeholders
- Establish a timeline and budget
- Get buy-in from stakeholders
A project charter is a vital document that sets the direction of a project by outlining its objectives, scope, deliverables, stakeholders, and resources. It is a reference throughout the project’s lifecycle and helps in decision-making. To learn more about project charters, explore these project management online courses offered by Emeritus to execute projects successfully.
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