Project Charter Template
Start projects off on the right foot with our free Project Charter template.
About the Project Charter template
What is a project charter in project management?
Project managers rely on project charters as a source of truth for the details of a project. Project charters explain the core objectives, scope, team members and more involved in a project. For an organized project management, charters can be useful to align everyone around a shared understanding of the objectives, strategies and deliverables for a project of any scope.
What should you include in a project charter?
For a project charter to be effective, it’s important to include as many details as possible.
While you’re putting together your charter, make sure to address three key points. First, your objective: decide on a goal that is actionable, reasonable, and measurable. Second, your scope: delineate an upper and lower bound for the project so everyone is on the same page about success and expectations. Third, deliverables: describe every asset or product you aim to produce as part of this project.
Once you’ve outlined those three points, you’re ready to fill out the rest of your charter. In general, your project charter should answer the following questions.
1. Why are we undertaking this project? Provide some context so everyone is clear on the reasons you’re doing it and what you hope to get out of it.
2. What’s the goal? In addition to defining your objective, you should also take the time to define success.
3. How will we deal with setbacks? Roadblocks are inevitable. Use the Project Charter to agree on how you will work around setbacks when you encounter them.
4. Who is involved? Identify stakeholders and clarify their responsibilities. This is important so that everyone feels invested, knows their role, and is aware of expectations.
5. What is the scope? Lay out the boundaries of this project. That could include a start date and end date. Specify out-of-scope items too, so your team doesn’t waste time or resources working on tasks that are not a part of the project.
6. What are the potential costs and benefits? There’s no need to create a detailed budget, but you should have some idea of the costs you can expect to incur. It’s also a good idea to specify who will have the authority to spend resources. While you’re thinking about the costs, think about the benefits to stakeholders -- including customers, your team, or your cross-functional partners.
When should you use a project charter?
When you’re working on a project, creating documentation is often the last thing you want to do. And when you’ve already got a budget, a project plan, and a statement of purse, why do you need a project charter? When is it useful?
Project charters are your single source of truth throughout your project. Whenever you’re about to tackle a complex project -- many stakeholders, lots of moving parts -- you’ll need a project charter to orient your team and stay on task. Throughout your project, you and your team can refer to the charter to make sure you’re staying within the scope of the project. Think of the project charter and roadmap and manifesto hybrid.
Project charters are also crucial when you need to sell your project to stakeholders. You’ve probably had to deliver an elevator pitch. A charter is a more sophisticated version. It makes it easy for gatekeepers to imagine realistic outcomes. And when you present the charter to stakeholders, they can use it to sell your project to their stakeholders.
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