Following from the previous post about the project charter, this is the template that I go over with my clients/students. I found it often takes a few iterations to get it right. Reviewing the first draft tells me which sections I haven’t explained well. In future articles I’ll pick apart some sections which have been most challenging. If in doubt, go back to the earlier post about ‘happy cake analysis method’ and apply it to what you are writing. When you have a concrete understanding the ultimate purpose of what you’re writing; ie what you want to achieve with that document/section, why it is included/necessary then the words will come easily. Remember that the charter is the contract between the doers and the decision makers, across organizations & management levels. Unlike the sales contract the trick is not getting it signed but getting the document read and understood. There are lots of excellent examples out there. This is a fairly minimalist template that I use.
Project Charter Template
BRIEF! 1/3 page max. Devoid of supporting details or numbers.
COMPLETE: must address the key elements of the PROJECT including deliverables and timeframe.
STAND ALONE: must make sense on it’s own, without reference to other documents/sections
Describe the environment in which this doc is relevant. Include the relevant elements of the STEP environment. Social: introduce major stakeholder groups and what impact the project will have on them. Technical: business language description of technology being affected/introduced. Economic: climate(?). Political: what political forces oppose/support the project.
What are the events that lead to this project being relevant/initiated?
Eg: In response to government audit …
Eg: The problem of … was reported at staff meetings. In response …
Goals (Strategic/Business Objectives)
“The Mission of XXXXXXX is…
This project will … ie relate your project to the very reason the target business exists, ie how your project responds to the mission.
Scope (practical/measurable objectives)
Objectives included – measurable!
Tabulate the things that, when ticked off, will mean the project has been completed.
Tabulate related opportunities which you’re not taking up at this stage.
A SIMPLE gantt ( 4~6 lines) or a table of project phases and expected completion timeframes.
CHOOSE WORDS CAREFULLY, to set expectations according to your level of confidence!
Tabulate specific resources (name them if you can) and the commitment required of each for this project to succeed.
Tabulate what can happen, the consequences and the likely hood of each risk event. Include a summary “exposure” column and a “Mitigation Plan” column.
Communications, reporting, project administration stuff.
How will you communicate with stakeholders, how often?
How will you handle project variations
How will you monitor progress? How will you report progress?
What are the mechanics of spending project money?
Who can place orders/authorise payments?
Success metrics – detail how, and by whom, the success of the project will be measured. (refer to the objectives)
Workplace Readiness Plan
How will you prepare the workplace for the change in the status quo? How will you handle resistance, training, productivity etc.
Constraints & Assumptions
What parameters constrain the whole project? Ie has the boss imposed an absolute budget limit? Is there an immovable time constraint? Relevant legislation/policies?
VERY IMPORTANT: State clinically any information on which this plan is dependent, which has not been EXPLICITLY provided.
Signature block for each sponsor.
as needed eg:
Budget. Be careful. As this is the contract between do-ers and deciders, the distribution of the charter could be wider than the Sponsors, who might be uncomfortable with finance details being so widely published.
Work Breakdown Structure to graphically show related work areas.
PERT/CPM chart – Used to create the schedule, but not normally included in the report itself.
Sometimes the timeline is given as an appendix instead of in the body
Document templates, eg blank project variation form