3 July 2020

Hi there, welcome back to another edition of Fuzzy Friday, brought to you by the #warehousewizards.

In this edition, I would like to talk about a piece of documentation that many companies and projects out there miss out on, the project charter. There isn’t a rule to define the name of this document – some call it “project specification”, others “project brief”, etc. However, whatever the name is, its content is quite similar in all of them.

Let’s begin with what the project charter is. The charter is a short document that consolidates all the conceptual ideas outlined in the Project Statement of Works, and defines what the project is about: its scope, objectives, stakeholders and other relevant information related to the project that is about to commence (by commencing I’m talking about planning and not the execution phase necessarily). The charter requires the approval of the project sponsor. It may also require multiple iterations – to ensure it captures all fundamental aspects of the project. Another important aspect of the project charter is that it gives the assigned project manager the go-ahead to begin planning the project, governance and authority to lead it, and in theory, from that point forward, the project manager has sufficient power over the project to make critical decisions when challenges arise.

The project charter works great as an internal “contract” within an organisation, to assign PM’s to lead internal projects and to add more definition to what is to be done. The charter can also be utilised to bring clarity to an external project that may have missed crucial information during the sales phase and to which no official contract has been signed and a PO, pointing at a project proposal number is the only document authorising project execution. In this regard, sending the charter out to your customer may help meet both parties’ expectations or open a channel of discussion for this matter before things become unnecessarily complicated. (I’ve seen frustrated customers and extremely stressed PM’s who had skipped the use of this important tool and ended up working in a project with too many assumptions and unclear deliverables and expectations).

Now, let’s move to the basics of the charter, its content and information. The list below may help you create the one that suits your business best:

1. Project name, project number, date of creation, author and any other relevant information that you may feel appropriate on the heading.
2. Project Sponsor name: This is the person initiating the project and who will authorise the budget to cover the project costs.
3. Designated Project Manager: This person may or may not work directly for the organisation but will assume full responsibility and governance over the project from that point forward.
4. Revision control table:
5. Project Justification: The why and how of the project, key objectives, benefits, impacts, any other reason or item required to be communicated in this section.
6. Stakeholders
7. Scope: this includes, but not limited to deliverables, inclusions, exclusions, milestones, high level schedule, indicative budget, high level resource capability.
8. Issues and Roadblocks: Constraints, assumptions, potential issues, dependencies, identified risk to date.
9. Authorisation: Approval status check list (approved, postponed, cancelled, under review, any other of relevance.
10. Sign off box for names, dates and signatures of authorisers and PM.
11. Appendices: this may include drawings, tables, spreadsheets, etc.

As we can see above, the project charter is a practical tool to have handy when questions arise regarding any aspect of the project. This mini “bible” can also help bring clarity between parts and save us from unnecessary headaches later in the project. Its structure is simple and can be created with as much information as required by the project itself or to fit the organisation’s needs. There are several examples and templates available online which can be used as a starting point to develop your very own.

I hope this information is of any help to you, your team or your organisation. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. I will see you next time with another edition of Fuzzy Friday.