For those working in project management or operations, working relentlessly to create more efficient ways of completing tasks and keeping the same quality is no mean feat.
But before you can implement key changes to the process, you’ll need to obtain the approval of stakeholders and make sure that the whole team is on board with the vision. This is where a project charter comes in.
By creating a project charter, you can create a shared understanding so that stakeholders recognize what they can expect and what impact this may have on resources. This increases their confidence, as they understand what they are approving.
The project charter can also function as a marketing tool to be distributed to those who work outside of the main project team to justify investment and expenses.
The exact process that you’ll follow to write a project charter will be specific to your organization and the remit of the project. In this article, we give our top tips to make your project charter a success:
1. Take Advice from the Team
The first step is to speak to the members of your team who will be involved in the project to get their feedback. This includes managers and stakeholders who would be involved in the approval process. You may also need to speak to any teams that will support your project, such as logistics or data security. This step can be conducted via a series of roundtables, if needed.
2. Write and Organize Notes
When discussing the project with your team, make sure to take full, detailed notes for all sections of the project charter. Keep focusing on the primary objective and then note and record any other details so that you can include them later when filling out your charter document.
3. Scope and Risks
“Start the project as you mean to go on by limiting and defining the risks at the beginning,” says Tom Myford, a project manager at Academized and Academadvisor. “Your charter document should list any known risks and limits. Make sure to include plans for reviewing and managing risks as they arise during the project.”
4. Use a Template Document
When you are ready to write, formatting the document may leave you stumped. Don’t forget to take advantage of the whole range of project charter templates that you can find online.
Review a few different documents and combine them to make a template that best suits your project and organization.
5. Be Specific
Your project manager may set a generic goal statement in the charter like “improve how we communicate.” We can see that this is a goal, but it isn’t specific enough for us to understand what the project aims to achieve.
We cannot see who the teams are communicating with, or how this needs to be achieved, or even by when.
The ideal project charter would give us some very specific, clear instructions so that the reader can understand the goal and how it will be achieved. So, for example, the same goal could be written as follows:
“Our goal: to replace our communication system by September 2020, so that all team members can speak with their managers via the internal ABC mobile app. Train all 350 team members so that they can look after and support the system internally.”
The difference between the two means that the teams that are approving the charter have all the information they need at the outset to understand what they are signing off on.
6. Review with the Team
“Before you submit your project charter before the leadership team or client, take some time to review the charter with your team members,” suggests Mandy Roberts, a business writer at Ukservicesreviews and Australian Reviewer, “This will ensure that everything is accurate and correct.”
7. Presentation to Approve
At this stage, you are not sending it for final approval. This document is fundamental to getting the approval you need to go ahead with the project, so it’s important that you present it properly and are available to answer any questions that arise.
Do not simply attach your project charter as a PDF in an email chain. Take the time to present your charter to your leaders or clients in a meeting or via a slide presentation and leave plenty of time to respond to their questions.
By following these tips, you should be able to create a project charter that matches your company objectives that the whole team can get behind.
Creating both technical and marketing content, Molly Crockett is an experienced writer. She enjoys sharing her experience and tips with her audience and specializes in digital and social media marketing.