The effective use of Project Charter in the projects

What is the project charter?

The project charter is a document that contains in  a synthetic way  the answers to the fundamental questions of the project: what are the  objectives of the project , the   high-level  requirements , the assumptions  and the known risks from the beginning. 

Project charter meaning

Project charter means ‘guiding document’ or project definition document. The project charter in the PMI methodology is comparable to the Project Initiation Document of the Prince 2 methodology

Project Charter content

The project charter is a document that describes at high-level what project consists of. It’s a document that needs to be approved by the Sponsor  of the project as it is the document that formally authorizes the start of the project .

It is good to remember that the  project manager should be appointed before the drafting of the Project Charter  and that the project charter itself should be written by the Project Manager, who then has the sponsor sign it for approval.

In the project charter we can insert various elements that better define the project, for example the  objectives, the business case, the key stakeholders, the deliverables, the high-level product requirements, the project team, the risks and the assumptions, a timing of maximum and success criteria of the project . The elements of the project charter do not necessarily have to be always the same even though a complete project charter will contain almost all of the above elements.

Once the project charter has been signed by the person with the authority to approve it, it is not modified except in the event that there are change requests or events that occur that require a modification of the project charter. For example, they can be a change in the feasibility conditions of the project, for example one of the assumptions proves to be untrue and therefore a necessary condition for the project is missing. At that point it is the responsibility of the project manager to return to the project charter signatory to present the issue and discuss what to do.

All the  information contained in the Project Charter is of a high level , for example the gantt chart will necessarily be quite generic because at this stage the detailed planning has not yet been done. Detailed planning takes place in rolling mode, i.e. as the project progresses, the activities closest to us are planned in detail in time. This planning methodology is called Rolling wave planning .

The Project Charter in the definition of the PMI

The project charter is a document, but it is also a process called “Develop Project Charter”

Elements of the Project Charter

§   Name of the project

§   Sponsor or owner of the project  (generally the client or the owner of the budget)

§   Project Manager  (name and surname). The project manager generally contributes to draft the Project Charter together with the Sponsor.

§   Business Case : the reason for undertaking a project must always be sought in the expected benefits. The benefits that must be economically exploited and must be compared with the costs of the project.

§   Project objectives  that must be measurable

§ The main  outputs of the project  in terms of objects, products, changes. Includes: project documentation, user and maintenance manuals, developed software, hardware, contracts, products, metrics.

§ A rough  schedule of the project  with the main milestones or checkpoints or phases.

§   Budget : costs and resources. In this phase the budget can be estimated at ROM level, i.e. Rough Order of Magnitude which means with a margin of error of +/- 30%

§   Team : a rough indication of who the project team will be.

§   Assumptions / Constraints.  For example, the client may have strictly requested the completion of the project by a certain date. In this paragraph, the constraints coming from outside must be indicated, which therefore you cannot control in the project management.

§   Risks , a list of the main risk factors that may already be known at this stage and any countermeasures to reduce the probability of occurrence or reduce the damage.

§   Required approvals and sponsor’s signatureProject Charter Template English PDF
DownloadProject Charter Template in PDF in Italian
DownloadProject Charter Template Italian Word
DownloadWho approves the Project Charter

The person with sufficient authority to approve it, usually the project sponsor .Who should write the project charter?

The project manager must write the project charter, to do this the project manager must be formally appointed.What are the essential elements of the project charter?

The project charter contains in a nutshell all the elements of the project: objectives, scope, key roles, risks, costs and benefits.Does a small project need a project charter?

The project charter is mandatory in the PMI methodology for all project dimensions. If the project is small, the project charter will also be small in size.Is the project charter modifiable?

The project charter can be modified only in exceptional cases, in which, for example, there are circumstances that invalidate the content of the document itself.

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