Purpose of Project Charter
The purpose of the project charter is to clearly outline what is to be done and authorize the Project Manager to proceed and apply organizational resources. The charter provides the opportunity for the sponsor to authorize the project based on measurable objectives in relation to a business need, and defined parameters such as scope, milestones, roles, responsibilities, and budget. The project charter is not meant to approve the project, which was done through intake, nor to document how things will be done, which is done through planning (after initiation is complete). It is simply documentation around the authorization provided to the Project Manager for that project. The project charter is part of the Portfolio Management Group’s project initiation process.
A project charter is required as part of the project initiation process when a project is medium or large in size, with moderate or substantial complexity, according to the project complexity chart. Projects of this nature may include risks that need to be monitored and mitigated, a resource commitment (expenses and people time) of at least $250,000, a significant change in processes or how resources are used, and/or a solution that requires collaboration and commitment across various business units/departments.
Project Charter Participants and Approvers
Input into the project charter may come from many different sources including, but not limited to, Sponsor, senior leadership, project intake form and/or business case, initial analysis/research done when proposing the project, subject matter experts within business unit(s), and other stakeholders (such as staff, students, faculty).
The author is typically the Project Manager for the project. If somebody else authors the charter, the Project Manager will still provide a signature that they agree to execute the project according to the documented parameters.
The approver of the project charter is the Sponsor.
Research and understand project information by reading any prior documentation (such as intake form, business case, research/analysis, and lessons learned from similar projects) and speaking to Sponsor and other stakeholders. The Project Artifacts Library is an excellent source of information.
Create the project charter with input from applicable stakeholders and Sponsor by filling out the sections in the template. The green italic text contains instructions for filling out the template and can be removed for the final version of the document.
Review charter with applicable stakeholders for accuracy and completeness, if required.
Obtain appropriate approval for project charter to indicate agreement between the Project Manager and Sponsor about the parameters of the project and authorizing the Project Manager to begin.
Scan the signed project charter and upload to the Project Artifact Library
Once the project charter has been approved, the Project Manager can begin the stakeholder analysis and fill out the initial version of the stakeholder register to understand who needs to be represented on the Project Team. Based on the Project Manager’s understanding of stakeholders, he/she can then talk to Functional Managers to negotiate time from their resources for the project and schedule a project kickoff meeting. The Project Manager can also start documenting the risks in a risk register.