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5 Min. Read

What Is a Project Charter in Project Management?

What Is a Project Charter in Project Management?

A project charter is the first step in developing your project goals as project manager.

Any business-related project can benefit from a project charter. So, what exactly is a project charter? A project charter is a document that contains all necessary information about the project at hand. It’s not as “official” as it sounds, in fact; some project managers send their project charter in the body of an email or Google doc. It’s really just a piece of paper with everything your team needs to know about the impending project.

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

What Is Included in a Project Charter?

Project Charter Template

Who’s Responsible for Writing the Project Charter? 

Key Takeaways

What Is Included in a Project Charter?

What is included in a project charter document you ask? Well, project charters come in many shapes and sizes, but in general, they will contain the following things:

Title: Include your company’s name and then the words...“project charter”. It might look something like this: “(Company Name) Project Charter”.

Project name: This is a no-brainer. Give your project a name that’s straightforward and easy to understand. 

Project Sponsor: If your project is being sponsored by a specific executive, include their name and any other key stakeholders here. 

Description: Describe your project in a sentence or two. Make it brief and include the most key elements and project details. If it’s an event, mention how long it will take. If it will only involve a certain team of people, mention that too!

Business Case: The business case will usually consist of a few company-wide goals that the project supports. Let’s say you are planning on introducing a new app to increase productivity. If increasing productivity is a company-wide goal, then definitely include that in this section!

Project Deliverables: What other documents need to be created in order to pull this project off? Is it a schedule? Sales document? A report? Data? An email? It could be a formal document like a contract, or something simple like a bulleted list. List these documents here. 

Project Benefits: Think of a few key ways this project will benefit the company. Whether it’s lead generation, an improved image, a boost of company morale or customer out-reach, there’s gotta be something great that could come of it! 

Project Risks: Every project comes with risks and as a project manager, it’s your job to think of everything that could go wrong before it happens. Certain team members might clash, wifi could go down, bad weather could strike. Include these risks in this section.

Budget: What’s the projected project cost? How much money will you need to pull this project off? Do your research and write out the projected amount. 

Project Milestones: This is where your project schedule will go. What needs to happen when? What's the project timeline? List out the key milestones that need to happen so your team can pull off your project with ease.

Team members involved: Think of this section as the credits at the end of a movie. Who will be involved with this project and what is their role?

Project Charter Template

We know what a project charter is, and what is usually included, now let’s put it into practice with a nifty project charter example.

Let’s say you wanted to do a photoshoot with your staff and post the pictures on your website. Your project charter might look something like this:

Title: Awesome Enterprises Project Charter

Project Name: Staff Photoshoot

Project Sponsor: Isabel H.

Project Description: A one-hour Instagram-worthy photoshoot with the entire staff. Tiny hats welcomed. 

Business case: Supports our company-wide goals of:

  • Increasing client acquisition
  • Changing our brand image to being more personable/approachable

Project deliverables:

  • Email announcement with instructions on what to wear (tiny hats)
  • Shooting schedule

Project benefits:

  • Boosts morale amongst staff by encouraging inclusivity
  • Content for our Instagram page
  • Boosts image/reputation in a positive way

Project risks:

  • Camera malfunctions
  • Lighting issues
  • Shyness/lack of desire to participate by staff

Project budget:

Not to exceed $1000

Project milestones

Email announcement sent out: September 15th, 2021

Date of photoshoot: September 30th, 2021

Post pictures on website: October 15th, 2021

Project team members:

Project Manager: Amanda Y.

Photographer: Mila K. from Uptown Media Corporate Photography

Photoshoot Director: Perry D. from Uptown Media Corporate Photography

Copywriter: Kevin M.

Assistant: Rae F.

Social Media Coordinator: Melissa M.

Who’s Responsible for Writing the Project Charter? 

As the manager and project initiator, you don’t necessarily need to be the one to write the project charter. It’s totally appropriate to ask your copywriter to type it up and then give it to you for approval. The charter can then be handed out either in hard copy during a meeting or emailed to team members to show them what you’ve been cooking up. 

Key Takeaways

The word “charter” can be intimidating and brings to mind images of lawyers and... fancy pens, but a project charter is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. To reiterate: a project charter is simply a typed document (sometimes in the body of an email), outlining all of the most important information your team needs to know about the project at hand. That’s it!

Just be sure to include:

  • Title
  • Project Name
  • Project Sponsor/Key Stakeholders
  • Description
  • Business Case
  • Deliverables
  • Benefits
  • Risks
  • Budget
  • Milestones
  • Team members involved

Once your project charter is all typed and ready to go, it’s time to send it out to your team. Go project manager go! 

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