Why you need a Project Charter and what it contains

Created by Kondiment
on February 13, 2018

When planning a new online project, the project charter is an essential document that defines the fundamental information about a project and is used to authorize it. In other words, a project charter helps you create an image of the destination you want to reach, why you are heading that way and who is going to help you get where you want to. 

Project charter not only establishes the basic information, but also reflects the common vision of the main stakeholders. It is usually created in the incipient phase of the project, preferably before one allocates the resources and the customer requests a delivery date.

Project charter is expected to be completed by the stakeholders in the lead stage and must be approved by the project sponsors. There is no standard formula for project charter, it can be either short or as long as one wants to.

Both the agency and the client need to know that a very long project charter is just like a very cluttered and detailed CV, which means that it has a very high chance of getting into a pile of other documents of minor importance on the desk. So keep in mind that a project charter must be not too succinct, or too detailed either, but rather clear-cut enough to be read by all parties involved. The ideal length of a Project Charter should not exceed 1 - 2 pages.

Usually, project charters are text or Google documents, although it's not wrong to be drafted as presentations. On a simple search on the Internet, you will surely find some templates or samples to ease your work.

Why you need a project charter

- Basic information about a project is all gathered in the same place: Unfortunately, not all human resources will participate in the first discussions on the project, but when the project starts, it is indicated that there is a document containing as much help as possible.

- Communicate from the very first moment an overview of the project to the stakeholders: You will avoid those situations in which one party said something and the other understood something else. Without the reference questions you will never know if you are heading in the right direction.

What you can find in a project charter

1. Background – Why are you doing this project?

2. Goals – Describe what scope your project has and when you plan to achieve it

3. Scope – What product, service or result do you expect to get from this project? What actions will your team take to undertake the project?

4. Stakeholders – Make a list of people involved in the project, starting with the Project Manager, sponsor, client and other members of the team. The names are not so important, but the position is. 

5. Milestones – Establish the important dates in the project, as the kick-off date, the deadline, invoicing dates, etc.

6. Budget – Make a note of the main project expenses. Of course, we are talking about gross estimates, which you should divide according to each service or product.

7. Constraints, Assumptions, Risks and Dependencies.

The Project Charter mustn't be created by a single person, but by the whole team, at a meeting on the subject. Some information in the document must be filled in by the agency, while other by the client or sponsor. Prior to validation, the project charter must be discussed and completed by each individual stakeholder.