Is this scenario familiar to you?
You’re at the office and your boss has come over and asked you to take charge of a new project that the company has been commissioned for. You are delighted, this is your first chance at being the project manager, you accept without hesitation. However, as you read through the project specifications you start to realise, this is more complicated than you initially thought.
Lack of defined goals.
You start thinking to yourself, how am I going to manage to communicate all of this to the team, management and the stakeholders? This sounds like every project manager’s nightmare, but lucky for you there is the Project Charter.
Many might see the Project Charter as an inconvenience and a distraction from getting started. However, even in their simplest form, they provide benefits that may not be immediately apparent.
So what is a Project Charter exactly?
A Project Charter covers the initial structure the purpose, to assist the project manager in determining how to execute a project. It is created to communicate the essence of the project and provide the team, key stakeholders and sponsors with an overview and understanding of what will be involved. It will reflect the commitment of the business to deliver the best possible outcome.
What does a Project Charter Include?
First of all, a Project Charter should include measurable or quantifiable milestones that are to be achieved, organisational and operational scope and top management support and commitment. The document is not complete until the nominated project sponsor approves it. This blog will cover 3 important elements to remember when writing a Project Charter, whether this it is long and complex or simple and to the point.
1. Make Sure The Benefits Are Known To Those Who Matter
As much as you would like to think that everyone knows what the project is about, in reality, most people will know nothing about it. So do yourself a favour and produce a document that will make all of this information clearer. Ensuring that everyone has a clear understanding of the project will be key to the success of the project. As a result, it is therefore essential to produce a document that makes the following clear:
Why are we doing this?
After reading the Project Charter you need to be able to identify what problem is being presented and the solutions that it will solve. Likewise, identifying any other opportunities that are being overlooked as well as being able to ensure that the project is aligned with the strategic direction of the organisation.
What are the expected benefits at the end of this project?
The Project Charter should address what the end goal of the project is, whether this is cost saving, process improvement, new opportunities, better yield/utilisation etc. As a result, the document should also include the overall anticipated return.
2. Clearly Define The Project Boundaries
One of the hardest things to manage in a project is the expectation. It is therefore very important to make it clear at the outset what the project will and won’t deliver.
Nothing damages a project more than the scope creep; more requests being made compared with what was originally planned for. I know I am particularly guilty of this and find myself reviewing processes to see how that capability could be the foundation of something better/smarter/faster.
I am pretty sure there are many others like me out there and it requires a strong project manager to stand up and let us not be sidetracked from our original goal. Therefore, clearly defining what you will deliver and making clear where the limitations are will help keep the project on track.
3. Identify Your Risks
There are many elements to a Project Charter, for example, Goals and Objectives, Resources, Costs, Dependencies, Risk etc. However, this blog was not intended to go through each of these elements, I, therefore, have chosen Risk as the final key point to include in any Project Charter.
Risk can take many forms and it is key that you consider all potential risks and issues that could arise throughout a project to minimise disruption to the project. You should outline risk in a risk management plan, which should include:
- Lists of possible risk sources
- Impact and probability
- Risk reduction and action plan
- Contingency plan
- Risk threshold and metrics
Risk management is a challenging part of project management. Although you cannot predict the future, simply preparing for all eventualities and uncertainties should minimise potential damages.
As mentioned previously, Project Charters are an imperative document that serves the basic purpose of informing everyone involved in a project and allowing you to organise resources to accomplish the objective. If the document is created properly, it will help those involved to see the business value of the project and if it is aligned with the organisational strategies
In conclusion, there are there 3 key areas to remember when writing a Project Charter: Understanding the benefits, Clarity around the boundaries and Managing Risk. As a result, if all three areas are communicated well, this will assist in the execution of the planning stage right through to the completion of the project.
If you haven’t completed a Project Charter yet – Try our free template.