Every project needs a clear direction. At the same time, projects often encounter deviations and surprises along the way, throwing projects off track and project stakeholders out of sync.
Therefore, just as important as a clear direction, projects need an agreed-upon map, detailing how to move from conception to completion – ensuring projects are finished on time and on target.
Project charters create such a map, and in “Getting Started in Project Management – 2. Project Charter,” project managers will learn the importance this document will play throughout a project’s lifecycle, as well as the standard elements contained within a project charter.
According to Rita Mulcahy, PMP, spending a little time upfront to understand a project’s direction, then developing and implementing a project charter, pays dividends in the end.
With limited energy and resources, she asks, “Why build the Taj Mahal when all you need is a garage?”
Developed at the onset of a project, project charters are intended to outline clear expectations and ensure buy-in from all stakeholders. Once the document is prepared and mutually agreed upon, all parties sign their names to show they understand the desired project outcome.
The signatures not only ensure understanding, they help section out feasible projects from fabricated ones. If others aren’t willing to sign off on a project, Mulcahy explains, there’s no use spending any additional time or energy on it.
Project charters can be as simple as a single paragraph, but most charters contain basic elements to help define the course.
A standard project charter includes:
Project title and description
Project manager assigned and authority level
Stakeholder requirements as known
Constraints and assumptions
Signatures and approval
Once in place, the project charter serves as an important resource for when issues arise or other projects vie for attention by offering a clear line-of-sight to the end goal.
In today’s world, project managers are required to finished projects faster, cheaper, and easier. Still, projects often fall apart because project managers don’t have a plan. Developing a project charter is an important first step toward success.