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What is a Project Charter? How to Write It (Examples Included)

project management charter

Starting a new project involves sifting through a lot of paperwork like project scope, requirements, project planning, and risk and benefits associated with it. Although there are many project management tools available these days, it still becomes difficult to go through all these documents when there is limited time available in your hands.

Also, how will you ensure that the project you want to undertake aligns with your business goals and provide profitability?

That is where a  project charter enters the picture. It is the document that officially starts the project. 

A project charter provides the overall description of the project and serves as a reference guide through the project. It illustrates the project’s benefits so that the company can run a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether the project’s potential benefits justify its implementation cost. The charter brings every team member on the same page, resulting in more effective and timely completion of the project.

This blog will examine what a project management charter is, why it’s important, its examples, and how to write one for your projects.

What Is a Project Charter? 

A project charter is a formal document that describes the project scope, purpose, team participating in the project, and their roles and responsibilities. It also defines the project manager’s authority, contains a list of key stakeholders, and explains how the project will be implemented, potential benefits, risks, and limitations associated with the project.

The project charter document is usually designed during the beginning of a project’s lifecycle and is used as a reference point throughout its development.

Usually, the project manager writes the sample charter and presents it to the stakeholders or sponsors for approval. The project can officially start once the stakeholders sign it. However, the sponsors can also reject the charter if they do not agree with the project’s stated objectives or budget allocation. Under such conditions, the project manager can negotiate the project details to address the concerns. 

Why Is the Project Charter so Important?

A project charter, without a doubt, is a vital document. It describes the project’s necessity regarding potential benefits versus costs, time, and resources for the project to get approved. At the same time, it also offers the following benefits:

A. Clearly Describes the Project’s Scope and Purpose

Working on a project without understanding its scope and objective will not yield any benefit. It will only create chaos as no team member will know what they are doing and why. Thanks to the project charter, all the team members will understand the project’s objective and purpose and how they can contribute to the company’s strategic goals. A project charter document clarifies why the company should undertake the project, what benefits it will offer, and how it will contribute to its long-term objectives.

B. Serves as a Reference Guide for Future Project Planning

Although the project charter template contains only the project’s basic details, it assists the project manager with further project planning. For instance, it includes the estimated project completion time that helps him break down the work and assign the tasks among the team members. Additionally, the project team can check the project charter to ensure that no work is taken outside the scope of the approved project.

C. Reduces Project-Related Risk

A charter in project management provides a rough estimate of how much the project will cost and how many people will be needed. It determines whether the company’s budget and current workforce can meet the demands. As a result, it reduces the risk that a company faces in case it starts a project that it cannot finance or handle, and thus will not be able to complete.

D. Provides Useful Insights to Stakeholders

Because of the project charter, stakeholders become aware of the project’s short-term and long-term objectives. They know what results to expect and when to expect them, how time and money are allocated, and what resources are required to accomplish desired goals.

E. Enhanced Project Communication

A project management charter keeps the entire team on the same page by identifying stakeholders and each member’s roles and responsibilities. Team members can quickly identify who is responsible for which task to avoid confusion. Otherwise, it might disrupt the project execution process.

Read More: 15 Essential Project Management Tips for a Successful Project

What Is Included in a Project Charter?

A good project charter document contains the following elements:

  • Project Introduction This section contains all basic project information like the name of the project, project manager, project sponsor, main stakeholders & project team members.
  • Project Details– Here, you can add a detailed project description like the mission, objectives, and the general scope of the project.
  • Milestones and deadlines – It includes an approximate timeline that shows the project’s start date, end date, working schedule, and deadline for completing the project. It also contains milestones for reviewing the project.
  • Potential risks–  It contains information on anticipated risks and possible issues a project may face.
  • Team and Organization: It includes a list of all the team members working on the project along with their roles and responsibilities.
  • Project Communication Plan– This section contains details of the communication plan to review the project progress and necessary changes in the project plan to align with the company’s objective and goals.
  • Project authorization & approval documents: These documents are usually included in the project charter annex and can apply to initial and final project approval depending on the situation.

Read More: Project Closure Steps and Checklist: The Ultimate Guide

Project Charter Examples

Here are three very different project charter examples that you can use to create your own project charter template.

Project Charter Example 1

Project charter example

Project Charter Example 2

Project Charter Example 3

project management charter example

How to Write a Project Charter 

While most project charters cover the entire project, big projects with multiple stages may require a project charter for each phase. Although project charters differ for every company, drafting a project charter is a collaborative effort that usually follows a set of project management steps explained below.

a. Organize a Meeting

Conduct a project charter meeting with stakeholders, sponsors, clients, team managers, and members. Gather everyone’s input on significant project charter elements discussed above by taking various factors into account like change in industry regulation or any specific client demand, etc.

b. Get Everyone on the Same Page

The main objective of the meeting should be on how to implement the project to achieve the strategic business objectives. If anyone has a different opinion, discuss things until a consensus is established. It is crucial that everyone stays on the same page regarding the project’s scope and objectives. Also, it is necessary to document the whole discussion for future reference.

c. Draft the Project Charter

It is the stage at which the project manager sits down to write the project charter in a precise format. You can add images and supporting documents as required. The main objective of writing the charter in project management is to get the project approved, so write it in a way that highlights project benefits. 

d. Obtain Approval 

Once you’ve finished the draft, share it with everyone to obtain feedback and recommendations. Once everyone’s feedback is in, make any necessary changes to the project charter. Then, submit it to the project’s sponsor for approval. Also, keep the project charter in a centralized area where it can be accessed for reference by the project’s stakeholders.

Read More: Project Management Checklist | A Key to Success

5 Tips on Writing a Project Management Charter

Simply preparing a project management charter and sharing it with others is not sufficient for its successful implementation. Try using the below-given tips and techniques to write, present, and carry out your next project charter!

1. Craft a Compelling Presentation

If the stockholder or sponsors involved in the project will not understand its benefits, they may reject your sample charter. The solution is to prepare a compelling presentation of your charter highlighting how undertaking the project will generate more revenue. Craft a presentation that clearly demonstrates how the project cost will outweigh its potential benefits.

2. Use the Right Tools

You can use various project management tools and time management tools for effective time, project, and budget tracking. It will assist you in writing an efficient charter keeping a note of the budget and resources the company will require. These tools also offer third-party integrations with the tools you use daily to boost team productivity.

3. Use Templates

Writing a charter can be a daunting task, especially drafting it for the first time. Also, writing it every time from scratch is a time-consuming process. Instead, you can use high-quality templates for writing an efficient project charter. 

Using project templates, you can draft the charter quickly, delegate responsibilities easily, and outline the cost and budget. These templates can be customized as per your requirement and easily shared with all the parties involved. These days many project charter example templates are available on a number of sites. 

4. Prepare Charter in Systematic Way

A project charter in project management will not serve any purpose if it’s not organized. Make sure it is easy to read and discover information. All the project charter elements should be adequately placed, use the headers and table of content wherever necessary.

5. Be Specific

Make sure your project charter contains all necessary and specific information like

  • Scope of project
  • Deadline for project
  • Authority of project manager
  • Resource and budget allocation
  • Project communication channel
  • Project’s team duties and responsibilities
  • Target’s audience, etc.

Read More: How to Improve Your Project Evaluation Process

Tools for Planning and Upholding a Project Charter

Writing a project charter may feel like a challenging task, but it does not have to be. You can use a project scheduling tool to organize all the required information and quickly create a project charter. In a nutshell, it helps you to complete the project within the deadline. 

Project management tools enable teams to collaborate, share files and documents, monitor tasks, and optimize decision-making, all required actions in creating a project charter. Let’s discuss some of the best tools for planning a project charter.

1. ProProfs Project

ProProfs project helps in upholding project charter

ProProfs Project is an online project management solution that allows you to plan projects, assign tasks, measure progress, collaborate, generate reports, and much more. It is an ideal tool for all of your charter writing requirements. It offers features crucial for drafting a charter like a project calendar,Gantt charts, time-tracking, reporting, and invoicing. 

ProProfs Project offers a centralized dashboard for managing multiple projects, keeping track of the individual tasks, and time spent by team members on a particular job. With third-party integration and collaboration features, it allows users to interact in real-time for efficiently completing projects. 

2. ClickUp

Clickup is a visual project management software

ClickUp is a cloud-based project management software that facilitates easy project charter development. Using this tool, you can manage a project, assign tasks to team members and collaborate with them in real-time. 

It offers multiple views for viewing work data and items like list-view, board-view, box-view, calendar-view, table-view, and Gantt Chart view to better understand projects. ClickUp is suitable for all businesses and teams of all sizes and types.

3. Wrike

Wrike is a tool for project charter

Wrike is a robust product management software excellent for developing customized team workflows. It simplifies the process of writing a project charter by facilitating project planning, streamlining communication, assigning and tracking tasks. 

You can use this tool to make a project timeline and create interactive Gantt charts to visualize activities and future actions. Apart from this, Wrike’s report-building feature helps you analyze overall project and team performance.

Read More: Top 10 Wrike Alternatives for Easy Project Management

4. Jira

Jira helps in managing project charter

Jira is a project management software covering most project charter development needs, like assigning tasks, scheduling tasks, collaboration, and streamlining team communication. The software also tracks project progress through interactive and comprehensive charts and calendars. 

Jira supports scrum and kanban project methodology. It helps you create stories and issues and plan sprints. With Jira, the team can track work, plan, build products, and overcome project problems coming along the way quickly. 

Read More: Top 11 Jira Alternatives for Seamless Project Management

Start Your New Project With Confidence

By now, you must have understood the importance of starting the new project with a project charter. It is a fundamental tool designed to help organizations deliver their projects successfully. The purpose of the project charter is to authorize the project and act as a reference document. You can develop the sample charter depending on your company and project requirements. You can also take help from the project charter examples discussed above. But make sure to include all the necessary elements in your charter. After all, a project charter acts as a roadmap for you and your organization.

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About the author

David is a Project Management expert. He has been published in elearningindustry.com, simpleprogrammer.com. As a project planning and execution expert at ProProfs, he has offered a unique outlook on improving workflows and team efficiency. Connect with David for more engaging conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.