The Project Charter is the document that approves the initiation of the project and identifies goals, objectives, boundaries and constraints.
When to use
Every project should have a Project Charter. With small projects it may be an email follow-up from a hallway conversation with your stakeholder. For large projects, a formal document is normally required. The Project Charter is established when the project is approved and is often referred to at each major milestone or stage-gate review.
Normally a template or checklist is used to complete a Project Charter. When establishing the Project Charter:
- Start with project business case, if there is one.
- Meet with stakeholders to clarify goals, objectives, deliverables, milestones, budget, boundaries, and constraints.
- Meet with subject matter experts to identify risks and further clarify boundaries, milestones, and additional stakeholders.
- Meet with the Project Management Office, if there is one, to leverage the best practices of the project management methodology and lessons learned from other projects.
- 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
If there is not a checklist or template, organize the elements of the Project Charter either using the “W” questions: What, Who, When, Where, Why, and How or the list of elements below taken from the PMBOK® Guide:
- Project purpose or justification.
- Measurable objectives or success criteria.
- High level requirements.
- Assumptions and constraints.
- Project boundaries or description.
- High level risks.
- Summary Milestones.
- Summary budget.
- Initial Stakeholder list.
- Project manager, responsibility and authority level.
- Project sponsor or other person authorizing the Project Charter.
- Approval requirements. (What is success? Who decides? Who approves?)
This definition is taken from the Glossary of the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013.
*Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013, Page 72.
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