The Project Charter
The Project Charter is developed as part of the project initiation processes. The Charter’s primary purpose is to officially authorize the start of the project or project phase. The Charter also identifies the project manager and provides the project manager with the authority to execute the project plan. A Project Charter can be the output of a previous project which, for example, may have initially determined the viability of the project, created a business case, or even determined the project’s budget. However, a Project Charter can also be based on a set of assumptions and simply detail specific organizational objectives.
The most important part of the Project Charter is that it be created!
Typically, the Project Charter includes a description of a particular opportunity or business problem, along with the objectives of the project and a discussion of how specifically the objectives will be delivered.
The following is an example of a market opportunity which is driving a project —
“In 12 months, the first in a series of new waterfront business complexes will be completed. Initially, there will be 15 new tenants, 3 of which will be relocating their home offices to the new waterfront complex. Subsequent construction phases are expected to host additional 70 – 80 corporate clients. All of the initial tenants are banks, financial management or hedge fund companies and all currently have, or are in the process of building, multiple regional, national and international offices. Each tenant will be responsible for directly negotiating data and voice contracts with telecommunications vendors.
In anticipation of these complexes being completed, our company must define, create and implement data and voice service packages which will be suitable to these industries…”
The Project Charter should also contain a preliminary scope statement, which can reference previous projects, define explicitly what is out of scope, and provide an overview of specific functional specifications. Moving forward with our data and voice circuit example above, we could document specific assumptions in the Project Charter, such as:
- Building architects have planned for external and internal service conduit.
- New products and services will use existing technical platforms.
- Existing data centers will be adequate to support new services.
The Project Charter should also contain –
- Project stakeholder influences (e.g. a project stakeholder has executive level contacts with new tenant decision makers)
- Preliminary schedule (e.g. specific milestones and target completion dates)
- Organization issues (e.g. organization is functional in nature and the project will require resources from functional areas external to the project manager. These external functional areas are committed to delivering on several other high profile projects)
- Known project constraints (e.g. allocated budget is $75,000.00)
- An overview of the project management methodology (e.g. phased approach, details concerning software that will be used to assist in project management, etc.)
When the charter is complete, it should be signed by the project sponsor and distributed to all stakeholders, including management and key project resources.