What is Project Charter in Project Management?

by StarAgile

August 18, 2020
Category Project Management


Management is an art

The first step towards efficiently managing projects is to prepare a document listing all the work activities. This is similar to a to-do list but with details carrying several inputs related to the project, it is called a project charter. However, it is not a formal document though, and also not a single one it can be many synchronized together as and when changes occur. It can be structured or unstructured. It can be modified from time to time. 

In today’s world, managing projects is a niche skill due to a dynamic working environment. Thus every individual in charge of projects are under constant pressure to perform and the majority of the business prefers this person to be qualified and hold a certification than others. 

In this blog, we will discuss what it is, how to develop one, and what the mandatory elements to be added in it are, etc. 

What is project charter?

It is a reference document that describes the points below.

  • Provides a basic perception of the project and how the value is shared among different parties, such as the sponsor, team, and clients, etc.
  • Describe the business value, objective of the project, and develop a plan to accomplish the goal.
  • It is also the contract between the interested parties, the sponsor, and the team with their job roles to carry out their tasks for a successful delivery.

Role and Benefits of the project charter 

Following are the role and benefits 

  • Project sponsorship is gained
  • The bonding with the client is enhanced and improved considerably
  • The progression of the project is smooth and consistent.
  • The project charter as a tool improves the processes of the Project Management
  • The team member's position and the task assigned are defined paving way for the execution of the projects smoothly.
  • The communications between the team, the sponsor, the project board, and the top management are improved.

Which of the following is not an element of the charter?

Do we go by a negative approach of listing components that are not present in the charter? No, we aren’t, but we have listed the key elements which are a must for the document to let you understand that anything not given here should be simply not used in the document. 

  • Business case with Return of Investment (ROI)
  • Business needs and vision
  • Constraints and Assumptions in the projects.
  • Defined Roles and Responsibilities
  • Goals and Objectives
  • Implementation plans listed
  • Milestones
  • Requirements of the project
  • Risks, Issues management steps, and Budget
  • Stakeholders Identifications
  • Summary schedule

Remember, the remaining elements not listed above should not be considered strictly part of the document. 

PMP Training

How to develop project charter

Follow the steps below to create a good reference for your project.

  • Provide a suitable name for the project according to the customer's requirements and specifications.
  • Make a note of the boundaries as well as the scope of the project.
  • List the steps in problem management and how you would approach them in your project.
  • Know the key stakeholders
  • Identify the purpose, goals, and specifications of the project.
  • Find and list down the outcome expected to make the project a success
  • Enter budget constraints after determining the cost of the project and the appropriate allocation of costs across all areas
  • Create matrices for each member of the project with roles and responsibilities
  • Create a schedule for each task and critical project milestones and what you will do to get there.
  • Calculate  the risks and how to deal with them

Now we need to understand how to write this document


1) Vision - The project manager has to clearly articulate the vision statement in the project charter.

  • The objective of the project needs to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Bound (SMART).
  • The scope outlines the boundary in which the project must perform on what is included in the project and what is outside of the project.
  • Deliverables must be agreed upon and described in the vision of the document

2) Organize - 4 subsets need to be looked into when composing the document

  • We need to identify the expectations of the customer and who are the customers in the current project context.
  • Next is to identify the stakeholders such as the team who works on the project, the management, the project board, the sponsor, and customers, etc.
  • Next is to define the roles and responsibilities of all the different stakeholders in the current context.
  • Now define the relationships and structure of the team and how each member have defined relations with each other

3) Implementation - Once you have defined the above parameters you need to have the implementation steps. There are four parts to this,

  • You need to develop an implementation plan so that later you can work on it. It may be a simple plan for simple projects or complex ones. You can use the Gantt chart to do this.
  • Next, mark the milestones for the major phases of the projects. It can be simple tasks that are completed or sub-deliverables achieved.
  • Next are the dependencies, now you have milestones and tasks listed however some of the tasks are dependent on others for completions and you make them in the Gantt chart.
  • Next is a resource plan for how you are going to arrange the equipment, materials, tools, hardware, software, and personnel to work on the project.

4) Budget, Risks, and Issues - Now in the documentation identify the risks and how you would treat them. What is the budget constraint, the duration constraint, and scope constraint and how do you address the issues if you encounter during the project. Then finally this charter needs to be approved and signed off, by the project board or the sponsor.

The Element of the Charter

We reiterate the elements of the document for you to master the same to make a fool-proof document. 

  • Client Requirements
  • Critical success factors
  • Distinctive project characteristics
  • Guidelines and Milestones for measuring the progress
  • Key project requirements
  • Project Budget and the authority to spend
  • Project Manager's authority
  • Risk assessment
  • Roles and responsibility matrix (RACI)
  • Sponsors and their requirements

Final Thoughts

The PM is the key person appointed by the project board and the top management to manage the project and take it to successful completion. This person must be equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills, and certification by the PMI to suitably drive the project. 

You have read the brief descriptions of the project charter. It includes objectives, an explanation of the scope, and the team with defined jobs and functions. It also includes the ability of the project manager to carry out the project.

To make the project charter for your project requires skills and knowledge. To learn more about the project charter and how to make them we would recommend you undergo online pmp training and certifications . StarAgile is partnered with PMI for PMP and provides the online interactive training which will teach you more on the role of the project manager to handle any kind of projects by managing them wisely. 

Keep Learning!!!