Project Charter – Who Issues the Project Charter? | Project Management

Project charter is a formal document that authorizes the project manager to use the organizational resources for the project.

Have you seen the project charter in any of the projects you worked for?

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Eventually project charter must be the first document on any project. However, many of the organizations may not create project charter as part of initiation of the projects and tent to increase the chances of project failures or increase risks or issues in the project.

As per the PMP process framework, preparation of charter is part of initiating process group and integration management knowledge area.

So, let us understand what the charter is all about and how it impacts the outcome of the project.

What Is a Project Charter in Project Management?

Project charter is a formal document that authorizes the project manager to use the organizational resources for the project.

Furthermore, charter tells how the project is going resolve an issue or fulfill a business need. Also It clearly specifies why the project is formed at all.

For the project manager, this is the document that gives him the authorization and provides background on the soul of the project.

Who Creates the Project Charter?

Project Sponsor issues the project charter.

Generally, in many organizations, project sponsor is the person who reports to someone in the top management. And due to bandwidth related issues, project sponsor may take assistance from steering committee or someone from PMO to develop the project charter.

But from PMP exam perspective please do remember the sponsor is the one issues the project charter.

In some cases, at the time of creating the charter, project manager might not have been identified for the project.

In case if the project manager is identified during the project charter creation, it is always better to involve project manager in the creation of the project charter, so that he understands the project objectives, milestones, initial stakeholders, and the benefits that the project should generate.

Project Charter Template or Sample

Besides giving the authority to the project manager, the reason charter is important, is because the information that it records during the initiation of the project.

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The typical contents of the project charter are as follows:

  • Project description – Describes the purpose of the project.
  • Requirements of the project and high level project scope
  • Project Manager information, if project manager is already identified
  • Authorization for the project manager to use the organizational resource for the project
  • A very high level milestone schedule – A very handy for the project manager for his planning exercises.
  • Business case – justifying why the organization selected this project. This tells project manager, the actual benefit that the organization is expecting from the project.
  • Initial list of stakeholders – A high level list, that includes the stakeholders who were involved during the project charter creation.
  • A high level budget.
  • Risks – Initial risks (high level) identified during the project charter creation, if any.

A detailed description of project charter contents is not the focal point for this blog post. However, to make the reader understand I tried to provide a generic template contents in the above mentioned points.

For the PMP exam, one need to understand the above mentioned fundamentals of the project charter.

And in addition to that, you must understand the process called “Develop Project Charter” which is explained below.

Develop Project Charter process

The following are the ITTOs of the develop project charter process of PMP exam from initiating process group and part of Integration Management knowledge area.

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Inputs

Project Statement of Work

Project statement of work also called as SOW describes the actual work that must be delivery as part of the project.

Business case

As part of selecting a project, among all the projects lined up, the organization weighs the projects with various parameters such as benefits, costs, etc. and choose a project that best suites the organization. This document comprises of the cost benefit analysis and the justification for project selection.

Agreements

Although agreements do not make much sense for the internal project, a contract is essential to deal with external entities.

Enterprise Environmental Factors

While developing the project charter, factors such as working culture of the organization, people, policies etc.… may be of use.

Organizational Process Assets

The project manager can utilize project charters, review the lessons learned and make use of templates, organization policies and procedures from similar historical projects.

Tools & Techniques

Expert Judgement

Taking help from SME (subject matter expert) who knows on how to create the project charter.

Facilitation Techniques

Techniques to keep all the stakeholders on the same page in terms of project goals and the approach on how to meet those goals. These are nothing but meetings, discussion, and brainstorming sessions, etc.

Outputs

Project Charter

The project charter is the only output of this process. As we discussed earlier, the project sponsor officially issues the project charter.

Summary

To conclude with, since the beginning of the project, the project manager must involve or understand the charter in detail, even if he joins the project after the creation of the charter.

Project manager must organize meetings with all required stakeholder to discuss, understand and agree on the contents of the project charter and ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page.

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