The Project Charter is a communication tool that provides high-level information about the project. It is usually developed once the project has been approved by the donor, and its use is mostly internal to the organization.
The charter identifies who is the project manager, the purpose of the project, its objectives, scope, constraints, assumptions, risks, and deliverables. These headings are commonly found in terms-of-reference and project contract documents. When initiating a project, it is important that all parties involved agree in considerable detail what the project is to achieve before it starts. Failure to gain formal agreement almost always leads to some expectations not being met.
The nice thing about the Project Charter is it provides a quick way of delivering all the important project information to stakeholders, without having to complete a full Project Document. It's a lot more digestible for busy stakeholders who may not have time to wade through a lengthy document when looking for a quick, but detailed overview of the project.
Most Project Charters contain the following information:
- Background - Provide background information that includes the reasons for creating the project and mentions the key stakeholders who will benefit from the project result.
- Objectives - Describe the project goals and link each of them with related, SMART project objectives.
- Scope - Provide a high-level description of the deliverables or results the project is meant to achieve.
- Schedule - Provide a high-level schedule of the start and end of the project, including significant milestones
- Constraints - Identify the specific constraints or restrictions that limit or place conditions on the project, especially those associated with the project scope.
- Assumptions - Specify all factors that are, for planning purposes, considered to be true. During the planning process, these assumptions will be validated.
- Risks - Outline the risks identified at the start of the project. Include a quick assessment of the significance of each risk and how to address them.
- Deliverables - Define the key deliverables that the project is required to produce in order to achieve the stated objectives.
- Governance - Describes how the project will be governed, and who is involved. Describes the approval process for major changes and the levels of authority in the decision-making process.
- Roles and responsibilities - Defines the major roles and responsibilities of team members and key stakeholders.
Project Charters are useful documents that help you ensure that everyone knows the goals of a project. They minimize any confusion about what must be done within it and explain how things should be done. Using a Project Charter can help your project team get a good start by creating a positive and productive work environment, where everyone knows what their roles and responsibilities are.
Want to learn more? Register for the next session of our online course Adaptive Management for Development Organizations and NGOs and start building your project management skills. https://www.pm4dev.com/elearn/ecourses/eapm.html