The project charter is one of the most important documents on your project. A well written charter will provide everything project team, the project sponsor, and other prominent stakeholders a good understanding of what the project all about. I found that graduate students struggle and developing a good comprehensive charter. It appears that graduate students struggle with either too much detail or not enough breath for the project to be well defined.
The project charter is typically the document that authorizes project. The development of the project charter can vary significantly depending on the organization chartering the project. The Project Management Institute recommends that the project sponsor should author the project charter and this is the ideal situation. The process of writing the project charter and facilitating input from various stakeholders provides a project sponsor with a good overview of the project and provides a good foundation for conversations with the assigned project manager. Often, it is the project manager facilitates the process of developing the charter and then goes to the project sponsors and other stakeholders to develop a group ownership of the project. This is a great opportunity for the project manager to clearly define the roles of the project sponsor and other major stakeholders in a way that supports the ongoing management of the project.
The components and the depth of the project charter are related to the profile the project. Large complex projects can have a very lengthy and detailed project charter, while less complex projects might have a one or two page charter. The Project Management Institute recommends the following:
· Project purpose; why is this project authorize? What will it accomplish?
· Project goals and a description of how these goals will be measured. The goals should reflect the success criteria for the project.
· High level requirements; requirements detail what must be accomplished for the project to be a success. Requirements include business requirements, stakeholder requirements, solution requirements, project requires (such as acceptance criteria) and transition requirements. High level means listing those major requirements identified early in the project. Detailed requirements will be identified as the project progresses.
· Major assumptions; what are the major assumptions made about the project, i.e. resource availability.
· Major constraints; what major constraints are known i.e. the typhoon season on a project in India.
· High level risks; what are the major risks that might impact project success. This is not a detailed risk analysis. This is the identification of the major risk known or suspected.
· Summary milestone schedule
· Summary budget
· Stakeholder list; identification the stakeholder who can influence project success and stakeholders significantly affected by the project outcome.
· Project approval requirements
· Assigned project manager, responsibility, and authority level; this is your chance to indicate the requirement for executives and clients to timely approve project deliverables and changes.
· Name and authority of the sponsor; this is your chance to detail your expectations of your project sponsor and develop alignment on expectations.
Your project may have more or less than the suggestions listed here. The project profile will determine the appropriate components of the project charter. One of the primary purposes of the project charter is to provide an overview of the project. A good project charter reflects alignment of the goals of the major stakeholders and their commitment to project success.
I am interested in the experience of project managers in developing a project charter and their opinion of its value. Let me know what you think.