A good project charter ought to serve as the skeleton for your project. It is often used in order to gain approval to begin work on a project. It is the first step in project management, and the result of the project planning phase. Project charters can appear to be quite mystifying. This article seeks to demystify the project charter for you. A sample charter has been placed in the media gallery for your reference.
The Title Page
Here you will have the name of the organization undertaking the project, the project title, version number and date at the header of the page. Once this information is covered, you may want to have space for the sign offs for approval of the project.
The Project Overview
The project overview should at least cover the project description and the problem statement for the project. Other things to include in this section include the goals and objectives for the project (though these should be general, save specifics for the Project Scope Statement), project assumptions and project constraints. The important thing to do in this section is to ensure that the person reading it gets a bird’s-eye view of your project and what it aims to accomplish.
Again, you want to keep this brief, but at the very least, your project charter should list the most important project stakeholders. List those who are providing funding for the project, those who initiated the project, and those on whom project success depends. This is not the place for the complete stakeholder analysis, just a brief overview of those who are influential and important to the project.
This is just like it sounds, a list of the project milestones and their deliverable dates. List only the most important milestones and keep the description simple (i.e. Marketing Report Delivered or Beta Test to Begin).
Here you will briefly outline the structure for the project. You will list needed resources, requested team members with the roles they will play, funding requested, and any other components your project will require.
Here you will list the most pressing and likely to occur risks. You should also briefly explain how these risks will be dealt with. This isn’t the place to list details – again, the project charter should be a short overview. You will have plenty of other places where it is appropriate to be in-depth.
You will want to keep track of what version of the project charter this is. Since you are likely to need to revise the charter to fit project changes and management requests, it is a good idea to keep track of the revisions that have already occurred for future reference.
Navigating and writing a project charter may seem daunting at first, but with practice and understanding come comfort and ease. For more information on writing project charters, view this Stanford University website.