How to Write a Project Charter

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Communicating with all project team members aids in developing a project charter.
Communicating with all project team members aids in developing a project charter. (Image: Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Writing a project charter requires knowledge of the project's purpose and how it relates to the organization's mission statement and goals. A project charter is created in sections, including the overview, project goal, identifying team members and their roles, and describing the process for completing the project by a specific deadline and within budget.

Things You'll Need

  • Organizational goals and mission statement
  • Approved project proposal
  • Names and roles of project team members

Align Project Charter With Project Proposal

Use the approved project proposal as a framework for developing your project charter. The project goal, scope, participants, budget, assumptions and expected constraints should be identical to those outlined in the project proposal. The project charter establishes a platform for the project that team members and stakeholders can use in measuring the project's outcome. The expected outcome for the project also corresponds with the expected outcome in the project proposal. If you don't have an approved project proposal, the project charter serves as the basis for the project and is developed and signed by all team members and the authorities approving the project.

State the purpose of your project as described in the project proposal, or brainstorm with team members for writing a clear project goal if you have no project proposal. For example: "Project team members will survey 100 employees to determine interest and potential participation in a tuition reimbursement program. This projects reflects the corporation's strategic goal of improving the educational and professional accomplishments of its workforce."

Identify the project manager and team members and their roles, as well as stakeholders in the project. Note the potential influence of stakeholders on the outcome of the project. Describe research participants' demographics, if applicable. For instance: "This project will take a sample of 100 employees with three to 15 years at the company. Survey participants will be selected from all departments by the human resources division and may participate anonymously." List recipients of the final project report.

Establish a time line for completing project steps, and a hard deadline for completing the overall project and presenting its results. Include team members' names and their associations with specific project steps. Supply all team members with copies of the project time line and a meeting schedule. Develop an email list for providing management and stakeholders with project updates. Identify alternate meeting dates and plan for flexibility in the project time line, but ensure the project completion date is definite to bar unpredictable circumstances.

Describe the processes for conducting research, assembling and analyzing information, and reporting project results. Include contingencies for expected obstacles and constraints, as well as for unplanned absences or challenges. Identify project budget allocations, resources and equipment required, and plans for addressing changes in project roles. Describe how the project results with be tabulated and evaluated and how the project's outcome relates to the company's organizational strategy and mission.

Tips & Warnings

  • Set up a calendar and email list for the project participants and stakeholders. Hold regular meetings for discussing progress, challenges and changes
  • Unplanned conflicts, emergencies and events can occur. Outline a contingency plan for completing your project on time and on budget.
  • Documenting the influence of stakeholders on the project is important for identifying their potential impact on the project's outcome.

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