When we think of a solid foundation, we are inclined to picture a house being built. We see the construction crew clearing away the site debris, digging holes and trenches, and pouring concrete. Once the concrete is solid, the construction crew begins adding on to the foundation (e.g. framework, drywall, installation, and plumbing) with confidence that there are no cracks. When building a successful project, the Project Charter is the project foundation.
A Project Charter is a well-defined document which serves as the foundation all project activities are built on. A well-crafted Project Charter will have the following ten components:
- Explain the project “WHY.” What is the importance of the project and what will be the overall benefit once the project is completed?
- Document the project goals and connect the goals to the company’s business strategy.
- Summarize the initial project budget estimates.
- Summarize the initial project completion date.
- Document the initial resources required.
- List the high-level project milestones.
- List the high-level project requirements.
- List all the individuals (e.g. managers, directors) directly impacted by the project.
- List some of the known project risks.
- Assign a project manager to the project.
If this document is not properly put together with relevant information, there will be no document to guide the project manager and project team into the planning phase.
A house built on a faulty foundation will, over time, exhibit cracks and leaks. This will cause the homeowner to spend a significant amount of time and money on repairs. During a project, the cracks and leaks are symbols of unclear goals and requirements, not enough or too many resources, and constant project changes. A thorough Project Charter document will help foster a successful project from inception to completion. The next time a new project commences, ask yourself, is this project being built on a solid foundation?
About the Author
Cerila Gailliard holds a Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification from the Project Management Institute and a Bachelor of Science in Business Information Systems (University of Phoenix). Cerila Gailliard is the founder of Orchestrating Your Success LLC which provides Project Management services to help business achieve their business goals successfully.