Saturday, November 10, 2018
The project charter is a document that officially starts a project or a phase. It formally authorizes the existence of the project and provides a reference source for the future. The charter gives a direction and a sense of purpose to the management from start to end. We should take great pride and care in our project charter because this is where you sow the good seeds. It will eventually take care of you. A project charter names the project manager and defines the authority of the project manager. It gives the project manager the authority to utilize organizational resources to accomplish the project objectives.
Charter also helps executives see the business value of the project. They can also reference the charter to understand how well the project is aligned with the organizational strategies.
A project charter should also serve as an executive overview of our project, one that any new executive can reference to evaluate it. A good project charter can help save us from unnecessary scrutiny or having our project shut down because some executive didn’t see the business value in it from their perspective.
As per the PMBOK® Guide, the project charter is created during the "Define" process . This process is one of the first ones to be performed in a project and is completed during the "Initiating" process domain.
The project charter is signed by the sponsor or the initiator.
So should the Project Manager write the Project Charter or the Sponsor and Initiator?
The charter should be written by the project manager (or at least a PM), as the PM is the person in the organisation with the necessary skills to create the charter.
Many argued that only a sponsor could draw up a charter, but my response was that many sponsors don’t have the necessary skills or training required to write a charter, yet it’s well within a project manager’s capabilities.
Another comment that as it was the charter that named and authorized the project manager, the project manager could not be involved in it’s writing. Who says they can’t?
Well these arguments are pretty well settled, when you read PMBOK Fourth Edition.
“It is recommended that the project manager participate in the development of the project charter”
And Page 74
“Projects are authorized by someone external to the project such as a sponsor, PMO, or portfolio steering committee. The project initiator or sponsor …will either create the project charter or delegate that duty to the project manager. “
So I think that’s pretty clear.
The other reason of course why you, as project manager, should write (or being heavily involved in the writing of) the charter, is that the charter will have a big influence on your project, and so it makes a lot of sense having some level of control or influence of your own, in these earliest stages.
Small is beautiful
And I’ll finish with a reminder that the charter is a very high-level document with very few pages (often one or two pages). Why? Because in these earliest stages nobody knows much detail (and what they do know will change – often). Besides, the more you have in writing at the stage, the more people will argue over it, so it will delay the project authorization and you can’t bill the arguing time to the project. Why not?
Because the project isn’t authorized, so there’s no budget of cost account!
What should be on a Charter?
Title and Description, Authorization and Resources/Team Members, Scope, Deliverable s, Measurable Objectives, Risks, Business Case, Business Outcome/Benefits, Timeline Problem Statement.