• The Project Charter Toolkit

    ANYTHING YOU MIGHT NEED TO PREPARE A GOOD PROJECT CHARTER: TEMPLATES, SAMPLES, GUIDE TO HOW TO CREATE IT AND EVEN TUTORIAL VIDEOS. ALL MATERIALS ARE FREE TO USE.

  • INTRO 

    Hi there! We created this toolkit to simplify making a project charter document for you. We noticed that it is hard to find a good template, samples and guide gathered in one source. So, we hope this toolkit will help you find all the info in one cozy place.

    If you are familiar with a project charter – go straight to templates and samples. If not, please scroll down to the guide section or video tutorials where you find all the information you might need.

    Enjoy!

  • PROJECT CHARTER TEMPLATE

    This template is free to use and has been designed for you by the Casual.pm team.
    You will also find alternative templates in the additional materials section.

    To add this template to your Google Drive just click a "Use this template" button on the main screen of the document and this template will be added to your Google Drive.

    Free to use

     

    Microsoft Word format.

    Free to use

     

  • PROJECT CHARTER SAMPLES

     

    We have collected four samples from open sources. They may differ in terms of structure and content.

  • ARE YOU GOING TO PLAN YOUR PROJECT?

    If yes, take a look at Casual, the project management tool that helps you plan your projects as awesome visual maps. Find out more!

  • PROJECT CHARTER GUIDE

    This guide covers everything you need to know about the project charter. It is based on the template you can download here.

    WHAT IS A PROJECT CHARTER

    A project charter is a central document that defines the fundamental information about a project and is used to authorize it.

    In a nutshell, a charter provides a picture of where you are going, why you are going there, who will be impacted, the main risks involved, and who is going to help you. It’s crucial that the charter not only establishes basic information, but also that it reflects the key stakeholders’ common vision.

    A project charter is typically created early in the project lifecycle, hopefully before the project is staffed and the business is running for a delivery date. It is usually created collaboratively as a team and shared with stakeholders upon completion. In most cases the charter is signed off for approval by project sponsors.

    It’s some kind of must-have document for any project.

    WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE?
     

    The project charter is a document. There is no universal formula for a project charter. It can either brief or as long as 50 pages. But the more detailed it is the less chance that someone will actually read it. We believe that you do want your project charter to be read, so try to keep your project charter to a maximum of 5 pages. Ideally it should be 1-2 pages.
     

    Usually project charters are text documents or google documents, although it can be a presentation, too. Take a look at a template or sample sections to see how a real charter looks.

    DO I REALLY NEED IT?

    Absolutely yes. Here are two killer benefits supporting why you must use project charters:

    • You circulate a big picture of your project amongst key stakeholders. It’s crucial that the common vision of basic parameters and structure be the same for everyone, especially during the initial stage of your project when there are so much uncertain or vague things. 

      It will drastically decrease your problems with miscommunications and eventually save a ton of your time (because we all know that one thing might look absolutely different from someone else’s perspective). 
    • Basic information about your project is gathered in one place. Without establishing things like: Why are you undertaking this project? What do you consider to be a project success? How will you measure this success? Without these benchmark questions you'll feel like as though you're aimlessly wandering, never quite knowing if you're heading in the right direction.

     

    WHAT TO INCLUDE IN THE CHARTER?

     

    We suggest using the following sections: 

     

    1 Background 

     

     

    Give a straightforward answer to the question: ‘why are you doing this project?’
    Describe what problem it solves and what gave you the opportunity to make your idea a reality. Try to articulate this section as if you’re trying to hire a complete stranger and you need to briefly explain the basic elements of your project.

     

     

    2. Goals

     

     

    Describe what goals you are going to achieve and when. It’s crucial that your goals be specific and measurable (SMART). For example, “Significantly increase customer satisfaction level” is a bad goal because it’s up to interpretation as to whether or not you’ve met it. However, “Increase retention rate from 5% till 10% by the end of 2015” is a good one.

    It’s essential that upon reading over your goals you clearly understand what you consider to be a successful part of your project and how you measure that.

     

     

    3. Scope

     

    What product, service, or result do you expect to get from this project? What actions will your team take to undertake the project?

    It’s also important to mention what your team will not do. For example, your end product is “a new website for a public library”. You will develop and design it. But will you test it, set it up or fill this site with content? Try to make it absolutely clear what you are going to do and what you aren’t. It helps you eliminate any confusion in the future.

     

    4. Key Stakeholders

     

    Make a list of people involved in your project. Some sort of who is who in it: PM, sponsor, client and team members. If you don’t know names of individuals, list the title of the required position and department.
     

    5. Project Milestones

     

     

    Establish significant dates of your project: start date, end date, invoicing dates. It’s important to understand that these dates are merely guesses. When writing the charter you don’t have firm dates yet.

     

     

    6. Project Budget

     

     

    Make a note of the main project expenses. Treat them as rough estimations. Try to make note of non-recurring and monthly recurring costs separately.

     

     

    7. Constraints, Assumptions, Risks and Dependencies.

     

    Constraints:

    These are the limiting factors that impact your project in a particular way. For example, when developing a new website the number of available programmers and technical limitations (platform, coding language, etc.) must be considered.

    Assumptions:

    Factors that you are relying on in order to succeed in your project. These factors are considered to be true, but without including proof. A few assumptions: contractors will be paid without delay and your client will test the website.

    Risks:

    Anything that might get in the way of you and your team when you’re trying to accomplish your project goals. Make sure to carefully weigh in on this point and clearly articulate the risks. A few examples:

    • Tight timeframe. The deadline doesn’t allow for any force majeure circumstances
    • Part of the team are volunteers with no-money motivation –which may mean that you’ll have to find and train new project participants.
    • Technical risks: i.e. part of the platform where you’re planning on setting up your website may be an open source and may not be updated.

    Dependencies:

    An absolutely essential part of the project. For a new website it’d be client-driven content.

    HOW TO CREATE IT.

    Don’t do it alone. The best way to create a charter is to do it with your entire team by having a project charter session. Get everyone together and cover the main points in the document. You may notice that many participants will have different perspectives on the project and that’s excellent. You’ll reach a consensus during the discussion.

    But keep in mind that making a project charter is an interactive process. After the project charter session write a rough draft and send it to all project participants. Gather their feedback and update the document. Discuss and finalize the document one more time and have the project sponsor sign it once it’s been approved.

    FINAL THOUGHTS

    Here’s a free project charter template you might use with this guide. If you think you need more information – browse the video tutorials and check out articles in the additional information section.

  • PROJECT CHARTER VIDEO TUTORIALS

    We've picked out the three best video tutorials about the project charter.
    Please be aware that the project chapter structure might differ in these videos.

  • ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    A simple but good article where the main concepts of project charters are well explained.

    A good resource about using a charter in Agile projects (yes, the charter can even apply to Agile projects).

    A well-written article with a bunch of examples about creating a project charter for a new website.

    A scrutinized project charter guide from the Treasury Board of Canada.

  • THANK YOU!

    If you think that something is missed here, please let us know buy dropping us an email at nick @ casual.pm

    If you find this toolkit helpful – please spread the word by clicking on the share buttons below.

     

    You may also check out other toolkits crafted by Casual: Project coordinator, Project proposal and Project brief.