How to Develop a Project Charter

    1=Initiation

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In this post I'm going to show you how to develop a project charter. In fact, these are the exact techniques that I used to create charters for small-budget to multi-million dollar projects. Let's kick things off by defining the project charter.

text: how to develop a project charter

What is a Project Charter?

A project charter is a "document issued by the project initiator or sponsor that formally authorizes the existence of a project and provides the project manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to project activities" (PMBOK® Guide—Sixth Edition. Page 715).

The Importance and Benefits of a Project Charter

Charters provide many benefits. Some are not so obvious.

  1. Allows an organization to formally authorize a project
  2. Establishes the authority of the project manager and project sponsor
  3. Helps to ensure projects are approved based on the business case rather than subjective opinions
  4. Helps to ensure a better return on investment
  5. Allows the project selection committee to consider whether the project aligns with the company's strategic plan
  6. Provides information needed to orient team members in the project kick-off meeting
  7. Allows the team members to review the approved charter when confused about the purpose of the project
  8. Provides the project manager with a way to bring new team members up to speed when members are added initially as well as later in the project
  9. Helps nonprofits to create grant proposals

Project charter. A document issued by the project initiator or sponsor that formally authorizes the existence of a project and provides the project manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to project activities. PMBOK® Guide—Sixth Edition

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Agile Project Charters

Occasionally, someone asks me, "Do agile projects need a charter?" 

Short answer. YES.

Agile projects benefit in the same way traditional projects do. In all projects, the project initiator of sponsor can reduce risk and improve communication through the charter process. 

And keep in mind, for small projects, it doesn't take much time.

Engage your key stakeholders. Work together in crafting this document. Furthermore, it's a great way of finding and reducing conflicts early. 

Are you struggling to initiate your projects?

If you are struggling with stakeholder engagement, if your project sponsor needs to clarify the project vision, if you're not sure how to obtain project approval, if you want your project team to understand the project goals and deliverables; then join me in my online course: What, Why, & How of Powerful Project Charters!

What You Need for a Great Project Charter

1. Every Project Needs a Project Sponsor

PMI Pulse research shows actively engaged sponsors are by far the top driver of projects meeting their original goals and business intent.

Sponsors are typically senior level executives from the C-suite. These individuals possess authority in the organization that allows them to secure the funding and resources necessary for the project. In addition, the sponsor should also ensure that their projects align with the vision, mission, goals, and strategies of their organization.

So, how do sponsors start projects?

These leaders see a need or opportunity. For example, the head of the Accounting Department may see billing problems due to a legacy bug-prone billing system. Furthermore, the sponsor creates and submits a project charter to the Project Board or similar group for approval.

So, what do you do when your sponsor is busy and you are having difficulty getting their attention? Elizabeth Harrin provides some great tips on What to Do When Your Sponsor is Too Busy.

PMI Pulse research shows actively engaged sponsors are by far the top driver of projects meeting their original goals and business intent.

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Tip: Use the Project Charter in Your Kickoff Meeting

In all of my project kickoff meetings, I review the charter. I provide everyone with a copy. And I walk through each section such as the project goals, deliverables, and assumptions, to name a few. As a result, the project team and other stakeholders leave the meeting with a common understanding of the project. This enhances communication and reduces risk.

2. Engaged Project Stakeholders

In addition, we need engaged stakeholders. Not everyone, mind you, but we do want the key stakeholders involved. Wise sponsors invite key stakeholders to the initial meetings to discuss the project charter.

When sponsors choose to ignore stakeholders, risk increases. These same stakeholders will discover the project later and may avert your efforts. 

It's not like they have malicious intent. Rather, they have insights that others lack. For example, a stakeholder has knowledge of regulatory requirements. 

Why not invite them into the inner circle early?

3. Project Charter Template

Ready to get started? Here is a template. Feel free to modify it as needed.

Ready to start writing your project charter today?

I'm here to help you develop your project charters today! Discover:

  • The Importance of the Project Charter
  • What is a Project Charter?
  • Why Project Stakeholders Are Critical
  • How to Create a Project Charter
  • What to Include in a Project Charter

Join me in my online course: What, Why, & How of Powerful Project Charters!

 

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