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Six Components of a Project Charter

The project charter is a document defines the scope of a project. It can be fairly broad, but not overly general. It should include an overview of what should be done. It is, in effect, the basic description of project. It is important that projects have these, as they provide direction and give team members and supervisors, as well as various publics and bosses, an idea of what actually should be happening. The project charter should be developed as a sort of transition from the initiating project management process group to the planning group. While there is project management software available to help managers create charters, it is good to know the six components of a good project charter: background, project definition, project approach, participants, possible risks, and project management.

Background. This section gives the reasons that the project is being initiated. Sponsor information, as well as what prompted the project, should be clearly stated in this portion of the project charter. Additionally, if a similar or preliminary project has been completed, the background section should include pertinent information and outcomes of the related project for reference. The background can also include foundation principles for the project.


Project definition. The project manager needs to have a clear idea of what the project is about. The definition defines what the project is meant to do. Many managers and teams include things like the mission statement, vision, and basic principles in this section. Also included should be some of the stated objectives and scope of the project. Entering these into a project management software program can help managers and team managers track their progress and measure what is being done against the definition of the project.

Project approach. Steps taken to ensure that the project fulfills its definition are set forth in the project approach section of the project charter. The approach is kind of like a road map for getting to the destination. It outlines the main mileposts along the way, like what specific tasks need to be accomplished at each phase of the project. Additionally, it includes a schedule or timeline of the project. If using project management software to help oversee the project, the schedule should be inputted, along with budget information, which should also be included in the approach section of the project charter.

Participants. This is where the team members and the project manager are listed. It is also a good place to have major assigned duties written out. While smaller duties change, and many project members do a multitude of tasks to help other members out, the main tasks that each team member is assigned should be clearly stated so that everyone involved knows who is in charge of what.

Possible risks. Risk assessment is an important of project management, and the project charter should reflect that risks are being looked at. While risk assessment should be continuous, it helps to recognize the major risks from the outset, and think about how to mitigate those risks. But just because it is part of the project charter does not mean that the project manager and team members should stop assessing risk. Issues should be recognized throughout as needed. Project management software can help with some risk assessment.

Project management. This section addresses the who and how of managing the project, but more especially the how. It is meant to set forth ground rules, and establish policy and procedure for the project.

When a charter clearly addresses these six elements, it can be a valuable tool for reference throughout the project.

Article by Remedysoft, Inc.
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