Every time a project begins, there is a need for a project charter.
Projects can arise from the most diverse motivations including, for example, changes to company goals, the need to undertake initiatives to achieve existing goals, internal and external environmental factors, customer needs, technological, political or legal changes, regulatory requirements … etc
In short, there are many motivations …. but only one Project Charter!
But what is a project charter?
It is a document that describes the vision of the project, a document that collects the goals and the plan of implementation of the project.
Here are the three main uses of a Project Charter:
- It is a necessary document to authorize the project. In fact, this is the document that “sells” the project to the stakeholders and defines what their return on investment will be.
- Serves as a primary sales document. Stakeholders have a summary to share or present when they are contacted for other projects, so that they can distribute their resources according to the needs.
- It is a document that remains throughout the project life cycle. It is therefore a reference document for the entire period of time in which the project is active. The Project Charter is like a roadmap for the project.
Key steps to write an excellent Project Charter
Step 1: establish the vision of the project
What is the vision of the project? Without identifying this general goal, in fact, it will be impossible to continue – in the right way – to achieve it.
In short: what is the final goal for the project team?
It is then possible to further break down the vision into goals, scope and results.
Goals: what the project aims to achieve. It is important to make sure that each of the goals is SMART that means specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and binding.
Scope: the formal boundaries of the project. It describes how the company can change or evolve after the delivery of the project and what is relevant to the project. Clearly definining the scope at the beginning of the project is essential to help maintain the control of the project.
Step 2: catalog the project organization
This step consists of four subsets.
Customers / End users: the customers of the project are identified.
In this phase, it is necessary to identify the customer or end user and the context where the project is located. Furthermore, it is important to define the person or entity responsible for accepting the results of the project.
Stakeholders: after the customers, stakeholders are the interested parties that must be identified. The persons or entities, inside or outside the project, having a specific key interest or a sort of “participation” in the project.
Roles: the key roles necessary to start the project are defined. This means project sponsor, project board and project manager, with a brief summary of each role and specific responsibilities.
Structure: it describes the lines of reporting and communication between these roles in a structured organization chart.
Step 3: Plan the implementation
At this point the Project Chart is almost finished and now you should have a fairly clear idea of what the project needs and how to organize it in order to complete the job.
This third passage is also divided into four parts:
Implementation plan: one of the responsibilities of a project manager is to manage creating an atmosphere of trust in the team, with customers and with stakeholders.
One way to achieve this is through the implementation plan that must be well studied. It is therefore necessary to list the phases, activities and timing of the project life cycle.
Milestones: one of the most important things of the project to consider. Milestones are more important and critical than activities and should be chosen with parsimony. These are indeed key events in the project life cycle.
Dependencies: A dependency is an activity that will probably have an impact on the project during its life cycle.
Resource plan: summarize the resources that will work on the project by subdividing them into labor, equipment, and materials. In this way, a project manager can know what he needs before budgeting and starting the project.
Step 4: list the risks and problems
The project chart is almost ready, but there is one last step needed in order to complete the process: identify any risks, problems and constraints related to the project.
Without a real risk analysis, in fact, a project chart is not complete and the probability that the project will fail is much higher.
Have you already started your project with a Project charter? What difficulties did you encounter?