What is a Project Charter?

30 Apr

Once a project proposal is written, a project charter is a critical step in the Project Life Cycle of a project that describes the project vision, objectives, scope, organization, and implementation plan.  This document helps guide the project manager in the right direction for your project and help gain buy in from your stakeholders as to how the project is organized and will be implemented.  The charter also helps the project manager to control the scope of your project by defining exactly what it is that you want to achieve in your project. 

Some steps to help you setup your Project Charter are:

1)       Project Vision Identification:

  • Define what the purpose of the project is and the end goal for the project team.  Remember your SMART goals
  • Define the project scope. This defines the formal boundaries of the project on how the business will be changed or altered by the project delivery

2)       Project OrganizationIdentify how the project will be structured by listing the:

  •  Customers: People or entity that is responsible for accepting the deliverables when the project is implemented
  • Stakeholders: People or entity within or outside of the project that have a specific key interest or stake in the project
  • Roles: List the key roles and primary responsibilities of each involved in delivering the project, such as: Project Sponsor, Project Board, and Project Manager
  • Structure: Define the reporting lines that will be used between each of the project roles within the Project Organization Chart

 3)       Plan of Action for Implementation:

  • Implementation Plan: List of phases, activities, and timeframes involved in undertaking the project to increase the confidence level for the customer(s) and stakeholders that the project implementation plan has been well thought through
  • Milestones: List of important project milestones (achievement of a key deliverable) and describe why they are critical to the project
  • Dependencies: List of key dependencies and level of criticality to the project, which are activities that are likely to impact the project during its life cycle
  • Resource Plan: A plan which summarizes the resources involved in undertaking the project by listing the labor, equipment, and materials needed, then budget the financial resources, as needed.

4)       Project  Risks and IssuesIdentify any project obstacles, risks, issues, assumptions, and constraints                   that might hinder the project implementation and how these risks will be dealt with to be minimized.

Importance of the Project Charter to the Project Manager:

  1. Defines & Brings Authority to the Project Manager’s Role:  It formally recognizes the project manager’s role and gives the project manager the authority to get the project done
  2. Makes the Project a Project: The project charter formally authorizes the project to exist and to be completed
  3. Sets the End Goals of the Project: Provides high-level goals and objects that the project should achieve

Project Charter Template

Image Credit


19 responses to “What is a Project Charter?

  1. Sumiko Maser

    April 30, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Thanks for the post Lisa- this is REALLY helpful information and I learned something new from it! Thank you…

  2. Lisa Drake

    May 1, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Thank you Sumiko for your comment! I am so glad you found it very helpful!!

  3. Mike Coughlin

    May 1, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Another good post Lisa. Thanks for providing more valuable information about your project management ideas and skills


    • Lisa Drake

      May 1, 2011 at 12:18 pm

      Thanks Mike for reading my post!! Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Carlos Carbajal

    May 23, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    Very interesting this post Lisa, clear and didactic, Thanks

    • Lisa Drake

      May 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm

      I am so glad you enjoyed the post Carlos! Thanks for reading.

  5. Tony G.

    June 7, 2011 at 9:01 am


    It is nice that you posted the information but when I wish to read a blog, I am looking for some type of personal experience or thoughts on the subject. What is your experience and thoughts on project charters. At times I have seen them be effective. Other times, they are a transparent formality in which case the PM was wasting their time writing a project charter. So what advice can you bring to the blog?

    • Lisa Drake

      July 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm

      Hi Tony,
      Thank you for your comment! I think writing a blog post about my opinion and experiences with project charters is a great idea and would hopefully provide value to other readers also. Thank you and please stay tuned for a future post on my view of project charters.
      Thank you so much for the comment!

  6. Irene Chien

    June 28, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Lisa, your blog provides lots of useful information and easy to read. I’m a Commercial Manager in aviation business in China and want to do regular training to the staff. Some of your contents and graph are very good and easy to understand to the local here. Could I quote the source and use them in the training or any permission required to get from you in advance. Pls let me know. Thanks.

    • Lisa Drake

      July 7, 2011 at 6:17 pm

      Hi Irene,
      Absolutely, I am so glad to hear you found the information helpful!

  7. Ramesh Babu

    July 6, 2011 at 7:00 am

    Thanks Lisa for the valuable post. very helpful indeed!!

    • Lisa Drake

      July 7, 2011 at 6:18 pm

      Thanks Ramesh for the kind works! I am glad you found the post helpful! 🙂 -Lisa

  8. astraton

    October 18, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Lisa, I’ve always wanted to know more about project charter template, and its uses in the business world. I felt that your post was very informative, and informational. It was defiantly a favorite of mine.

    • Lisa Drake

      October 18, 2011 at 10:17 pm

      Thank you for the comment! I am so glad the post was helpful!

  9. Greg

    February 6, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Thanks Lisa for sharing your information on project charter timelines. I had no idea what was involved in one and this really helped me so much. Keep up the good work.

  10. Alexis

    March 2, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    thank you for the information i was looking for you are the best!

    • Lisa Drake

      March 11, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      You are most welcome Alexis! Thanks for checking out my blog!

  11. Darla Thalman

    April 13, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Lisa I am just starting my final class which is Introduction to Project Management before attaining my Associate of Science Degree in General Studies and you post really helped me understand the object of a project charter, thanks!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: