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Project Charter vs. Scope Statement

Do you know the difference between a scope statement and a project charter?  Both documents are designed to tell everyone associated with the project exactly what the project entails, showcase the schedule, and deal with budgeting and resource issues.  So what is the difference or are they the same?

Quick Definition:

Differences between these two documents:

Project Charter:

  • Official document created and approved by key stakeholders, after project idea has been identified
  • Developed by the corporate executive or sponsor
  • Defines the responsibilities and boundaries of the project manager and the project

Scope Statement:

  • After the project charter is approved, the project manager can proceed with launching team building activities and defining the scope of the project
  • Document that formalizes references the scope of everything that the project must produce that is used for future decision making
  • Developed by the project manager with his/her project team members
  • Acts as a response to the Sponsor/Project Charter

Reasons to Keep These Two Documents Separate:

  • Avoid debate in the project approval phase, as the project charter is easier to gain project approval in the early phases & helps to move the scope statement more quickly to save time in the end
  • Avoid early arguments over: deliverables, precise wording for the milestones, and objectives to help keep the direction of the project in the hands of the project manager, as written in the scope statement
  • Project charter is delivered to those with the authority to sign off on, as it defines the project, and can be used as a reference by the project manager to keep the project on course through the marching orders of upper management
End of the Day Answer: The Project Charter and Project Scope Statement are similar, but different, as I have noted above, and should be kept as separate documents.

 

What is a Project Charter?

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

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