Are you looking for a good project charter guide? One that shows you exactly what it looks like and how to make your own.
A project management charter sets the direction of a project. Its primary purpose is to authorize a project.
Although it’s not a lengthy document, nailing it is important to the success of a project.
In this post, we’ll review project charter basics and show you four traditional examples and one Agile version. We’ll also show you the benefits of using a charter and when and where to use one.
What is a project charter?
A project charter document is an overview of what a project hopes to accomplish, what project success looks like, and how it'll be achieved.
The charter details information that helps people understand a project's objectives (and how to go about getting it done). It also includes a high-level overview of the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders.
A project charter can also act as a business case. A business case (also called a feasibility report) is a way for a business to assess the viability of new ventures. The business case is typically done before a project or business reaches the charter or initiation phase.
A business case (and project charter) can evolve into a business plan. A business plan has more details on the roles and responsibilities and how to reach the goal.
Although project managers tend to write the charter, it's best if the project sponsor is involved. The project sponsor is typically the client "business owner" of the project. Sometimes, the Scrum master, product manager, and CEO can draft a project charter.
Project charter vs. project plan
The project plan is made after the charter is complete and is a full-scale plan of attack!
A plan describes how a project team will tackle the project. It contains details about the timeline, milestones, deliverables, budget, resources, and communication plan.
A project plan is similar to a business plan. The same tools, techniques, and tips that work for project-related artifacts can also work for business artifacts. What works for a project charter can also work for a business case. Same with the business plan and project plan.
When to use a project charter
Most projects can benefit from a good project charter. Why? It forces you to analyze what you want to (and can) take on.
Imagine a band of overeager pirates hoisting more loot than their ship can handle. After a few raids, their ship is overloaded, causing it and the treasure to sink. A project charter would help the pirates to not bite off more than they can chew.
Simple or small projects can work with just a project plan, design, or even just a charter.
But for more complex projects, the project charter is invaluable. It'll guide and set the tone for the project plan.
Benefits of using a project charter
A well-written project charter can lead to many benefits, chief among them being:
Better project clarity and alignment among stakeholders
A project charter outlines project goals, objectives, and the roles of team members. This creates clarity because everyone is on the same page on what needs to be done and knows their responsibilities. It avoids "I thought you were going to…." or "this is not my responsibility" scenarios.
Effective scope management (and scope creep avoidance)
The project charter defines what's included (and what's not) so that everyone knows the project's boundaries. This helps to keep the project focused, the timeline intact, and unexpected scope changes at bay.
A well-crafted project charter outlines not only the project's feasibility, but also all the necessary information to help decision-makers make easier and faster decisions.
The pirates could have used it to decide how many raids they could pull off before they started overloading.
Robust collaboration bedrock
Getting stakeholders to contribute to the project charter builds a culture of accountability and collaboration. They'll likely feel more valued (and engage more) with their perspectives considered early on.
Key elements in a project charter
The charter isn't an overly lengthy or detailed document (aka project artifact) because the aim isn't to use it for planning, but more for gauging the feasibility of a project and outlining its boundaries.
The most important information to include is:
- Project purpose
- Project objectives
- Project scope
- Stakeholder roles and responsibilities
- Project timeline and milestones (or expected project schedule)
Project charter examples
Below are four examples of project charters for four different niches. Use these as guides for your project charters while adapting them to your project requirements.
Example 1: Software development project
Project Title: Developing a mobile expense-tracking app for Motif.
Project Purpose: To create a user-friendly mobile app for expense tracking that helps individuals manage their finances more effectively.
- Develop a functional prototype within three months.
- Incorporate intuitive user interface design and seamless synchronization across devices.
- Achieve a user adoption rate of 10,000 within the first six months of launch.
Scope: The app will focus on personal expense tracking and budget management, excluding complex accounting features.
- Project Sponsor: Jaymes Clone, Founder & Owner of Motif
- Project Manager: Jane Smith
- Development Team: UI and UX designers, app developers
- Marketing Team: Content writers, SEO specialists, graphic designers and Ad specialist
- Design and Development Phase: 3 months
- Testing and Quality Assurance: 1 month
- Marketing and Launch: 2 months
Example 2: Construction project
Project Title: Renovation of company headquarters for Motif.
Project Purpose: To modernize and improve the company’s headquarters to create a more inspiring and efficient workspace.
- Complete interior renovations within six months, including open-concept office spaces and upgraded facilities.
- Install solar panels and energy-efficient lighting systems to help with energy usage.
Scope: Renovations will cover common areas, offices, and facilities with a budget of $2 million.
- Project Sponsor: Johny Pins, Co-Owner of Motif
- Project Manager: John Davis
- Design Team: Architects, interior designers, engineers
- Construction Team: Contractors, laborers
- Planning and Design: 2 months
- Construction: 5 months
- Testing and Final Touches: 1 month
Example 3: Marketing campaign
Project Title: Launch of product X marketing campaign for Motif.
Project Purpose: To introduce product X to the market and achieve a significant market share within the first quarter.
- Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy within two months, including online and offline channels.
- Generate 50,000 leads and achieve a conversion rate of 15%.
- Increase social media engagement rate by 10% over three months to help spread brand awareness.
Scope: The campaign will focus on digital and traditional marketing efforts, excluding in-depth market research.
- Project Sponsor: Adele Turner, Chief Marketing Officer of Motif
- Project Manager: Sarah Johnson
- Marketing Team: Content creators, graphic designers, social media managers
- Sales Team: Responsible for lead conversion and tracking
- Strategy and Planning: 2 months
- Execution and Monitoring: 3 months
Example 4: Research project
Project Title: Environmental impact assessment of urban development for Blue Horizon.
Project Purpose: To assess the possible ecological consequences of an upcoming urban construction venture and to find solutions for sustainable growth.
- Conduct comprehensive environmental surveys and assessments within six months.
- Identify potential risks and propose mitigation strategies.
- Present findings to the city council and get approval.
Scope: The assessment will cover air quality, water resources, wildlife habitats, and potential carbon emissions.
- Project Sponsor: David Smith, CEO of Blue Horizon
- Project Manager: Dr. Lisa Anderson
- Research Team: Environmental scientists, researchers, data analysts
- Government Representatives: City council members, urban planners
- Research and Data Collection: 4 months
- Analysis and Report Compilation: 1.5 months
- Presentation and Decision: 0.5 months
Agile project charter example
An Agile project charter serves as a formal document that works slightly differently than a traditional project charter.
Here, you might also include a few different elements than the waterfall method, such as:
- A high-level timeline in the form of Sprints
- The Agile ceremonies you will use
- And the metrics to track against
Let's delve into an example of how an Agile project charter can be structured:
Project Title: E-commerce website upgrade for Motif.
Project Purpose: Upgrade the website to increase customer satisfaction and boost sales.
- Iteratively implement user interface enhancements based on customer feedback every two weeks.
- Reduce cart abandonment rate by 20% within the first quarter.
- Achieve a 15% increase in average order value through improved cross-selling and upselling features.
Scope: The project will focus on improvements in front-end and checkout processes, not major backend changes.
- Product Owner: Emily Martinez, CTO of Motif
- Scrum Master: Alex Brown
- Development Team: Front-end developers, UX and UI designers
- Marketing Team: Content writers, SEO specialists, graphic designers and Ad specialist
- Sprint Duration: Two weeks
- Sprint Goal: Iteratively implement and test user interface enhancements
Metrics and Ceremonies:
- Daily Stand-ups: 15-minute daily status updates and coordination
- Sprint Review: Held bi-weekly review of completed work and customer feedback
- Sprint Retrospective: Held at the end of each sprint to help find opportunities and adjust processes
- Sprint 1: UI enhancements and A/B testing - 2 weeks
- Sprint 2: Checkout process optimization - 2 weeks
- Sprint 3: Cross-selling and upselling features - 2 weeks
- Sprint 4: Testing and validation - 3 weeks
Tips, tools, and techniques you can use to create a project charter
Now that you have the idea (and examples) of a project charter, you can add more depth to your charter using these tools and techniques.
Add depth with analysis
A requirements assessment can help you surface project details from key stakeholders and prioritize them. This can help you identify missing project requirements or help you see which requirements matter the most.
Stakeholder analysis is a good idea if you have many stakeholders (internal or external). This analysis nails down the influence and impact of stakeholders on your project.
Gantt charts provide a visual representation of project timelines. They break down tasks, their start and end dates, and how they relate.
RACI charts help you assign roles and responsibilities to project team members. It clarifies who’s Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed for each task or deliverable.
Mind maps are a creative way to organize thoughts and ideas. Use them to brainstorm project goals, scope, and key deliverables.
Use project management software
Project management software can help you streamline creating project documents (artifacts).
Many project management platforms include Gantt charts, Kanban boards, and timelines as integral components.
These features help map project phases, milestones, and tasks in a dynamic, interactive format. They allow you to foresee potential bottlenecks and dependencies to allocate resources and manage project risks better.
Draft your project charter with Motion
Now that you know what a project charter is and have some project charter templates, it’s time to get started on your own.
Use Motion to help facilitate all those meetings on the project charter.
Motion can also centralize all project documents, including the charter (and any analysis, timelines, and project budget). Motion makes it easy to find relevant documents and then collaborate directly in the app.
Don't miss this opportunity to take your project management to the next level. Sign up for your 7-day free trial today.