Project Charter

Project Charter Template

Stay within scope, focus on deliverables, and get your entire team on the same page using a Project Charter Template.

About the Project Charter Template

Before diving into a project, it's important to make sure you have the necessary documentation that will help you succeed. One key document that you need is a project charter.

Read on to learn more about what a project charter is, when you should use one, and how you can create one using our Project Charter Template.

What is a project charter in project management?

A project charter is a unified source of truth for the details of a project. A project manager or project leader relies on the project charter to explain the core objectives, scope, and responsibilities of a project and its team, as well as some other key details. No matter how wide the project’s scope, the project manager can always refer back to the charter if anything is ever uncertain.

From the moment your project kicks off, a charter can help align every stakeholder around a shared understanding of the project’s objectives, strategies, and deliverables.

Ideally, the project sponsor, who is accountable for the project’s successful delivery, should write the project charter document. In reality, this task often falls to the project manager to draft before it is signed off by senior stakeholders or the project board.

When should you use a project charter?

When you’ve already got a budget, a project plan, a project schedule, and a statement of purpose, why do you need a project charter?

A project charter serves as a single source of truth that supersedes all others — you could call it the founding scripture of your project. When conflicts arise between the budget and timeline or between members of the team, the project leader can use the charter to arbitrate.

The more complex a project gets, and the more stakeholders and moving parts it acquires, the harder it becomes for the project manager to keep everyone on task without a project charter.

Charters are also crucial when you need to sell your project to key stakeholders — especially to decision-makers who may lack the technical knowledge of your project team. The charter is an elevator pitch that makes it easy for gatekeepers to understand the project details.

How to create a project charter

Do you want the easiest way to build a project charter that works the first time? Work from a template. Start by adding the Project Charter Template to your Miro board. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Invite your project team members. The more people can contribute their input to the charter, the more smoothly you can work together on the project itself. Invite everyone to collaborate on your Miro workspace.

  2. Brainstorm answers to the key categories. Below these steps, you’ll find a rundown of all the key sections in the template.

  3. Fill in the results. Once you and your collaborators have settled on what information should go in each category, fill them in on the template.

  4. Use the charter to get buy-in. Shop the finished template around to each stakeholder and get their opinion. As you go, make any changes necessary.

For a charter to be effective, it’s important for the project leader to include as many details as possible. At a minimum, you should make sure to address a few essential elements. The template includes 10 total sections.

  1. Purpose is the ultimate goal of the project, the reason you’re launching it at all. Examples can include filling a niche, increasing customer loyalty, or boosting revenues.

  2. Scope defines what is and isn’t part of the project. Define your scope clearly so your project doesn’t succumb to scope creep, continually bloating with new features and shipping far behind schedule.

  3. Success criteria is a SMART goal (specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound) that can tell you whether the project has succeeded. A project with a criterion of “delighting all our customers forever” is bound to fail. Instead, try something like “obtain the highest market share in our industry.”

  4. Team lists the people who will work directly on the project.

  5. Stakeholders are people who aren’t on the project team, but who have a specific reason to care about how it turns out.

  6. Users are the people the project is intended to benefit (in a way that pays dividends to your company). Unlike “team” and “stakeholders,” users will be segments of the population instead of specific people.

  7. Resources are the organizational assets you can devote to the project, including money, time, people, equipment, and more.

  8. Constraints are known factors that may get in the way of the project succeeding.

  9. Risks are events which may or may not occur, but would threaten the project’s success if they did happen.

  10. Timeline is a rough sketch of how long the project will take to complete, including action items that will define each phase and projected dates for key milestones.

Don’t go overboard on any of these points. The finished project charter shouldn’t be longer than a few pages. All the key information it holds needs to be visible at a glance.

Project Charter FAQs

What is the main purpose of a project charter?

A charter is the ultimate source of truth for any questions that arise during execution. Whenever there’s conflict or ambiguity between objectives, people, or teams, the project manager or project sponsor can refer to the charter to clear it up.

How do you build a project charter?

Start by getting your team together in a collaborative workspace like Miro. Adding sticky notes to the template is a simple way to build consensus on key points about the project. Each of the template’s ten sections corresponds to a vital part of a charter: purpose, scope, success criteria, team, stakeholders, users, resources, constraints, risks, and timeline.

What should a project charter include?

At the bare minimum, a charter should list the project’s objectives, scope, deliverables, high-level budget, and the responsibilities of each team member. There are several other elements that the project sponsor may wish to consider. For example, risk identification and mitigation plans, the project timeline, a list of expected resource requirements, a list of key project stakeholders, and a project communication plan.

Project Charter Template

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