Project charter can be considered as the document which describes a project comprehensively. Project charter identifies the need for a project to exist and to be executed. Through project charter the sponsors of the project initiate it. Through project charter, the sponsors authorize the use of organizational resources for the successful execution of the project. The project manager may or may not have been identified till the Project Charter is defined but it outlines the authority to be bestowed on the Project Manager. Also Project charter outlines the outcome that needs to be achieved and the criteria that will define the success of the project.
The elements of a Project charter include:
- Purpose of Project and intended outcome.
- Business case and requirements that justifies the need of project
- Key assumptions and the consequences if they go wrong
- Criteria to measure for considering a project to be successful or unsuccessful.
- Authorities and role to be played by the Project manager.
- Sponsors of the Project
- Stakeholders in the Project.
- Approximate Budget assigned to Project
- Anticipated timeline in which Project needs to be finished.
- Resources to be deployed for the execution of the project.
- High level risks associated with the project.
In a nutshell, a project charter is a document which outlines the outcome that a project need to achieve and the constraints in terms of budget,timeline and resources under which the project need to be executed.
Project charter is important for a project as it clearly outlines what needs to be achieved. The crisp definitions of "what" is very important for the success of a project. Without the shared understanding of the definition of the project, a project can quickly become similar to the elephant and blind man story. Each one has his or her piece of truth. The sponsors and different stakeholders may carry a different mental model of the definition of the project. Project charter builds a comprehensive definition of the project. The project definition now resides in the Project charter document and not in the individual heads. A shared and same understanding of the definition of the project among all the sponsors, stakeholders and executors is must for the success of the project.