How to Write a Project Charter

Project Charter  – Definition and Usage

This is a document that typically describes the goals and objectives of a project, the key responsibilities of each of the participants, major stakeholders, jurisdiction of the project manager and scope of organization and its implementation. Thus, it is prudent that the charter is very simple but detailed enough to give a vivid idea of what the whole project entails.

As mentioned earlier, it is a must-have document for anyone working towards carrying out a successful project. This is majorly because the charter provides a clear direction you should take when carrying out the project and most importantly, gives you an edge when soliciting for the required finances.

Other key roles or rather importance of having a project charter includes:

  • Describing the reasons for carrying out the project.
  • Stipulates the goals and objectives that the project is set to achieve.
  • Describes the risks and difficulties that may be faced while carrying out the activity.
  • Explains means of curbing the problems.
  • Identifies the key stakeholders.
  • Gives the benefits which accrue after successful completion of the project.
  • Provides details pertaining to budget, resource allocation and authorization on spending.

 There are specific uses of project charter including:

  • As a reference to use which includes every step to be taken, which means the project’s progress from the beginning to the end.
  • Acts as a contract between key players of the project including stakeholders, and the team members.
  • Contains the same information on the project to everyone concerned hence goes a long way in minimizing any problems that may arise due to miscommunications among the participants.
  • Gathers all the basic information about the project in one document. This is important in providing you with clear guidelines on how to undertake the project effectively.

How to write a project charter

A project charter, just like any other document, most especially official documents, has specifications or guidelines on how it should be written. It is necessary that anyone looking to write an impressive project charter is familiar and understands the importance of following these guidelines to the latter.

Do not ignore any writing rule, minute as it may seem, each and every one of these specifications has a role to play in guaranteeing an awesome project charter layout. Here are some simple rules to help you write that perfect project charter:

  • Ensure that you use a language that is comprehensible- in this case, avoid using very complex words that may give the readers, especially the stakeholders, a hard time understanding exactly what you intended to put across.
  • The project charter should be just the right size, not too small that some important details are left out and not too long that the readers may lose interest in going through the work. It is advisable to do a 5-page document.
  • Ensure that all the elements that make up a project charter are included in detail. Do not ignore any of the charter elements, unnecessary as they may seem to be, because each and every section contributes significantly to the overall layout of the project charter.
  • The information provided under each charter section should be adequate enough. You should be careful to provide just the required details for the readers to comprehend your document, do not overdo the explanations.
  • Presentation of the project charter is also of utmost importance in ensuring that your target audience is interested in going through the whole document. Hence, ensure that you select an appropriate font type and size to ensure that your write up is easily readable. In addition, ensure that the page layout, numbering and alignment of the words is done correctly. The order of the project charter sections should also be adhered to. This brings about a smooth flow of the idea and hence easier understanding of the whole document.

Elements of a project charter

A good project charter should essentially include the following sections:

  1. Background

In this section, briefly give an explanation as to why you decided to undertake the project by highlighting the problems or rather that the challenges that the success of the project will help to alienate. It is important for you to note that the problem that the project is going to solve should be one that is socially beneficial to a large group of individuals as this is what the key stakeholders are mostly interested in.

  1. Goals

This is another well sort after section by most stakeholders. It is wise for you to give goals that are measurable, achievable, specific, clear and to the point. These should be written in point form and numbered accordingly.

Remember to always start with the major goal followed by the others and also two to three goals are just enough. These goals should give a vivid idea to any reader of how the project will be considered successful and how the success will be measured.

  1. Scope

Scope simply refers to the limits or boundaries of your project which entails details such as the estimated time the project is to be completed, a brief description of the formal issues regarding the project including the activities that the team will be involved in. In addition, outline those activities that the team will not take part in.

Mentioning the activities that you and your team are going to take part in helps to keep everyone in check all through the project and goes a long way in ensuring that any confusions that may arise in the future are avoided or dealt with accordingly.

  1. Key stakeholders

Stakeholders are persons that are of utmost significance in the progress of the project especially those that will fund it and the team members. Make a list of each and every one who is participating in the project including: the sponsors, team members, clients among others.

It is important to know each of the stakeholder in your project before hand as this interaction with them creates a conducive working relationship. Mention all the participants by name and the task allocated.

  1. Project milestones

In this section, stipulate the estimated time and date for the start or completion of a crucial step of the project such as the invoicing, project analysis dates and also the start and end dates.

  1. Project budget

This section should basically include a list of all the costs to be incurred when carrying out the project, you may include the availability of each of the material and also make a resource plan which may have the labor, material and equipment. Also include a brief description of the spending authority where you explain who will have the permission to spend money for carrying out an activity.

  1. Constraints, assumptions, risks and dependencies.

Constraints- refer to those factors that limit the progress of the project or rather the results of the project hence have to be carefully considered throughout the progress of the project.

Assumptions- are the uncertainties associated with the project and in which the project relies on in order to be considered as a success but it cannot be proven exactly how these factors come into play to ensure that the project is successful.

Risk- refers to any situation that may occur during the progress of the project that may affect the results of the project. It is essential that you include this part so as not to be taken off guard by situations that you cannot handle hence compromising the success of the project. These risks may include tight timeframe, uncooperative team members, and project methodology risk sand technical risks.

Dependencies- these include all those activities that are likely to influence and affect the progress of the project.

Project charter example

Below is a project charter example that will give you an idea of how the document should look like:


Project title: Renovation of the building

Project manager: Caroline Jacobs

Project start date: 5th May 2017.

Project end date:  6th September 2017.

Project sponsor: Bukenville Rodgers.

Project team: Caroline Jacobs- Project manager, Alex Peters and Innocent Mathews- team members, Shivan Patri- accountant.

Project scope: To include renovation of all the rooms with installation of state of the art technology and up to date furnishing.

Risk and issues:  Reallocation of the residences.

Deliverable: Ensure better comfortable living for the people.

Assumptions: Considering and implementing the views of the residences.

Dependency: Ensure that all the workers are doing the allocated tasks effectively.

Project budget: labor- 300,000, equipment- 4,000,000, materials- 10,000,000.

Milestone: installation of all the state of the art equipment by 10th July 2017.

With this guide, you are sure to come up with an excellent project charter that will meet your project needs.

In conclusion, a project charter has to be done with utmost efficiency. While writing it, you should keep in mind that it is a formal document. The above guidelines will help you write the perfect project charter.