When it comes to project delivery, documentation is everything. After all, the more comprehensive and complete the information, the better informed the decision-maker. Compiling a charter is the first of many steps within the project life cycle, given its ability to capture and summarize a project’s feasibility and alignment with the enterprise’s long-term business objectives.
More importantly, it lets project managers apply organizational resources to project activities such that no single task suffers from a surplus or shortage of critical resources.
Considering that a project has several stakeholders involved, competing (and sometimes conflicting) interests are to be expected. After all, different aspects of the project would be of interest.
For example, the financier would want an account of the costs involved, while the project management office would want to know how the portfolio is doing, in terms of the project’s activities, work packages and effort hours. The onus is then on the project manager to assemble teams based on their schedules, skills relevance, competencies and availability.
A project charter template briefs concerned person(s) of the project’s constraints, budgetary allocations and defined outcomes in order to manage expectations reasonably well. You’ll then bid for the right projects in the years to come, while maintaining the project deadlines. When you’re drafting a project charter, the first question springing to your mind would be:
What are the necessary components of a project charter?
While it may seem like a trivial element, titling the project lets management surmise the project’s nature, scale and complexity.
This is the section where the reasoning behind taking the project up is documented. The purpose of the overview is to lend managerial support and authorizing both the project and project manager.
It covers the complete project management life cycle along with the mission statement, beneficial gains and broad strokes of both deliverables and milestones expected to be achieved.
3. Project Budget
While all costs may be difficult to ascertain in a project’s initiation stage, creating an estimated cost-ceiling prevents you from under or over-spending the project fund. It establishes a cost baseline that governs when and where funds are to be released in accordance with the resources (technical and human) needed.
The project scope document is prepared on the guidelines listed in the project charter. It highlights project risks in terms of constrained resources in terms of the costs, time, people and data available,. This way, should any changes be suggested or introduced once the project’s underway, project managers can draw back to this original scope to assess where modifications can be feasibly injected.
The scope also lists the project’s limitations, to prevent mismanaging project spends or over-committing critical resources.
5. Milestones to be met/reached
Once the project is formally authorized, its milestones or project management phases are outlined based on task dependencies as well as the time and complexity per activity. This section is the route to syncing resource schedules to the project calendars such that tasks are doable yet keep your staff optimally challenged. In other words, it sets realistic expectations based on how much can be reached within specified timelines.
Deliverables, or product outcomes, refer to the finished and/or promised product in terms of its quality and functionality. Based on how many project milestones were successfully completed, or conversely, which ones consumed more time, resources or costs, a prototype or Beta-version of the project can be visualized.
7. Resources Requested
Given that the right competencies and expertise has to match availability and utility rates, project resource requirements along with their quantity and quality are documented here. This ensures that all hands are on deck ahead of the curve. This way, you aren’t forced into making last-minute judgment calls on a team’s suitability for the project in question.
8. Risk Entries
It’s a known fact that all projects carry risks. This section is further broken down to unknown and known risks and serves as an early version of the project risk log. It profiles risks by their severity, impact, areas affected and mitigative measures that would need to be taken to either contain, resolve it completely and even prevent them from recurring in the future.
While additional project charter components being added to the template is subject to its ability to clarify the project’s objectives, deadlines roles and responsibilities and Return on Investment (ROI), the vital elements listed here not only render your charter complete but can also win your project a Sponsor to back you up when the time comes to bid for promising projects with RFPs (Request for Proposals).
Isn’t it about time you downloaded your free project charter template to get initiated into the fascinating world of project management?