In this series, we will take a closer look at the role and responsibilities of the project manager. Once the position of the project manager within the company is established and the stakeholders are identified, it is time for a project charter to be introduced. What is project charter exactly and what role does it play in project management?
The project charter is one of the first tasks of a project manager ahead of the new project. It is a document that serves to formally announce the selection and approval of the project as well as granting the project manager authority to meet project objectives while using organizational resources. It also contains the main project goals and the designation of roles and responsibilities.
Let us take a closer look at the purpose and main aspects of the project charter, as well as some practical tips on how to go about its creation:
The purpose of the project charter helps the involved project managers and the stakeholders understand what the given project is supposed to accomplish. It defines the project's success, offers deadlines, and provides information on identified risks and the budget. It serves as the basis for the project plan, and it maps out each step of the way so that any changes can be implemented easily and smoothly.
There are three main roles of the project charter:
The project charter is the core document of the project. It introduces the project to the stakeholders and presents its goals to increase the stakeholders’ interest in the project. The project charter justifies the existence of the project and certifies its purpose.
In other words, the project charter serves to sell the project. It contains a summary of the project and allows the stakeholders to review it quickly and easily when considering other projects.
Without exaggeration, the project charter can be understood as a pillar of the project. It is a document deemed to remain valid during the whole life cycle of the project. It is referred to at the start of the project, throughout its duration, and towards its completion. The project charter is not only made to be kept among the documents, it is constantly mentioned and referred to.
The main aspects of the project
The project charter addresses three main aspects of the project:
The scope of the project is the most important one. It determines what the project accomplishes, but it also reflects on the challenges preventing accomplishments. The scope mentions the roles and responsibilities of individuals as to the questions of approval and suggestion of changes in the project.
The schedule in the project charter refers to the creation and management of the deadlines and time frames. The cost, on the other hand, clarifies the guidelines for the estimate creation. It determines who approves the budget and how the budget reporting is done.
Tips on writing the project charter
Writing the project charter may be a challenge, especially for the less-experienced project managers. The following tips can help create a backbone structure of the document:
Start with the vision
A clear vision is an absolute must when it comes to the project charter. Determining what the project aims to accomplish is as important as writing it out in the form of an easy-to-understand, all-encompassing vision statement. The vision statement should include measurable and realistic objectives and all relevant information about the project. Likewise, it should focus on the outcome and list the tangible ways that the project will influence the company or organization.
Manage the stakeholders, customers, and their roles
It is essential to identify and include information on all the roles in the project. This includes the list of stakeholders and their connection to the project and the customers or end-users. All the other persons involved should be identified and the project manager, the board, and the sponsors. What are their relationships, and how they interact? Outlining everyone’s responsibility will help with troubleshooting in the future.
Develop a timetable
Once the vision and roles are established, it is time to describe the project unfolding. This includes a plan with all the activities and individual phases of the project. A detailed outline of the project development serves to provide clarity at any time of the process and helps gain the confidence of the stakeholders and customers in the project. This part of the project charter can include individual milestones, due dates and list all necessary equipment and materials used.
Assess the risks
Risk assessment is an important part of any project planning. The project charter should list any possible constraints and challenges the project may face in different phases of its development. The risk assessment should also include problems and issues that have already occurred and are related to the project. Such information will prove useful once the project runs and encounters any difficulties.