Contents of a Project Charter

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You can map out project plans using a project charter.
You can map out project plans using a project charter. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

When a project is being ordered between organizations and clients, the group creates a project charter to document the agreement. Project charters outline the terms of the project. They are used as planning tools and references to refer back to during the course of a project. If you want to put together an effective project charter, you must know what specific contents to include.

Background Information

A project charter must contain information about the background of the project. That is, it must state the reasons as to why the project is being initiated and who came to the decision to execute the project. You can tie the background information to particular business goals or economic trends, as well as list the parties in agreement of the project.

Project Scope

A project charter must describe the project to be carried out. It must state the time frame for which the project will run, what the expectations are for those working on the project, how the communication will work and outline the individuals that will be responsible for executing particular tasks. The scope of the project must be included in the project charter. The scope refers to the actual work that shall be done to complete the project. This section of the charter outlines the tasks, steps, functions and features of the project, along with what the end result of the project is to be.

Budgets

The budget and budget schedule for the project shall be worked into the project charter. The budget tells project managers how much money they have to work with to execute the project. The budget schedule lets the group know when it can expect to receive the funds at various points throughout the project course.

Project Goals

Project goals are identified within project charters. This section discusses what the objectives are and how the goals are beneficial to the businesses involved. Include information about the impact that the finished project will have on other systems, processes or profitability.

Ownership

A project charter must clearly state who has the final ownership of the project after it is fully executed. The contents of this section shall identify the stakeholders, sponsors and others who have a financial investment in the project. You can include information about the contributions that each entity shall make for the project and the share that they get back in return after the project is finished.

Project Deliverables

Project deliverables must be included within a project charter. Deliverables identify the key milestones that project managers are expected to meet to prove that the project is moving along timely. Such deliverables also provide project evaluators with a means of checking the progress of the project against the expectations. Each deliverable should have its own objective to help project managers stay on track.

Organizational Chart

Include an organizational chart in your project charter. An organization chart outlines the order, or chain, of commands as they relate to the project being implemented. This designation helps others identify who is in charge of doing what on a project and what the reporting and oversight order is for communication purposes.

Risk Management

Project charters contain risk management sections that discuss the identified risks to the projects and what to do to manage those risks. A risk management plan can be written into the charter to identify how threats to the project will be mitigated or minimized and what the backup plans are for becoming vulnerable to a project threat.

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