The Essentials of a Project Charter Template

January 10, 2019 By

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 project charter is the first of many steps within the project lifecycle, 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 manager would use their experiential instincts to estimate the project’s activities, work packages and effort hours, thereby assembling teams based on their schedules, skills relevance, competencies and availability.

Project Charter template doc

A project charter briefs concerned person(s) of the project’s constraints, budgetary allocations and defined outcomes in order to manage expectations reasonably well. And with a project charter template, you’ll bid for the right projects in the years to come. When you’re drafting a project charter, the first question springing to your mind would be:

What components are a must-have for a project charter?

1. Title

While it may seem like a trivial element, titling the project lets management surmise the project’s nature, scale and complexity.

2. Overview

This is the section where the reasoning behind taking the project up is documented. Besides lending managerial support and authorizing both the project and project manager, the overview comprises of the project’s 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.

4. Scope

The project scope document is prepared on the guidelines of the scope listed in the project charter. It described 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 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.

6. Deliverables

Deliverables, or product outcomes, refer to the finished and/or promised product in terms of its quality and functionality. Based on how many 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, the quantity and quality of resources are documented here to ensure that all hands are on deck ahead of the project 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 the 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 components being added to the project charter 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?

Free Project Charter Template


Namratha Mohan

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