Project charter – condensed project information at a glance
The project charter briefly documents the essential information about a project including
- project name,
- project objectives,
- project contents,
- project reasons and project benefits,
- project environment and project organisation,
- opportunities and risks, and
- responsibilities and participants.
It thus contains the essential facts about a project.
Since in practice there are various documents in companies that cover similar or even identical contents – e.g. the project proposal, the project mandate or the project definition – it is important that those involved agree on their procedure and the form of the documentation.
In a way, the project charter – sometimes also named project outline or project profile – is also similar to a project brief, as defined for example by the British project management method PRINCE2: “A project brief serves as a complete and solid basis for the initiation of the project and is created as part of the start-up of a project process.” The project charter also documents solid information about a project, in contrast to the project brief ideally on a single page or a maximum of two pages. It is therefore practically an information sheet and not a comprehensive document on a project.
The purpose of project charter
What is the purpose of project charter? This question can be answered with two main points:
- The clear, condensed presentation of a project with its essential attributes enables stakeholders to quickly gain an idea of the project in question. The project profile is thus a source of information that provides a view of structured project information in a very short time.
- It is also a communication tool that facilitates the exchange between stakeholders – e.g. the PMO and project leaders, management and PMO, client and contractor, etc.
Advantages of project charters
A project charter offers the following advantages:
- It presents the important information about a project at a glance and thus increases the common understanding of all stakeholders.
- Those involved and interested in the project have a common state of information that defines the scope of the project and at the same time always serves as a reference in the course of the project. Indirectly, it is a kind of insurance against additional tasks and efforts.
- If an organisation uses a standardised template for documentation, on the one hand the collection of project information is facilitated and on the other hand the readability for stakeholders is improved.
- Of course, the structured recording of essential project information ensures that central aspects are not easily overlooked in the run-up to project implementation.
In some publications, the project charter is also referred to as a decision-making document for the implementation of a project. Such statements should be treated with caution, because a project charter does not replace a business case, for example.
Impulse to discuss:
How useful is it to update the project charter during the course of a project?
Here you can find a German video about the creation of project outlines.
And here you can find additional information from our Smartpedia section: