Initiating Process – Do you Have a Project Charter?
Project Management Institute’s (PMI) A Guide to The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), Third Addition states the Initiating Process Group “consist of the processes that facilitate the formal authorization to start a new project or a project phase” (p.43).
A common issue on many Programs and Projects is either the lack of a Project Charter or, confusing a Project Charter with a Project Management Plan.
In addition, many organizations do not require a Project Charter if an approved Statement of Work (SOW) or an approved Purchase Order (PO) is received. This practice does not represent Project Management Best Practices.
A Project Charter is usually a one (1) or two (2) page document that describes the fundamentals of the project (or project phase) and provides authorization for the project. The Project Charter is prepared during the Initiating Phase and approved by the Stakeholder(s). A Project Charter will help the Program/Project Leader understand, with clarity, their level of authority and the level of influence for each of the stakeholders.
A Project Charter should include scope description, schedule and cost goals/objectives, assumptions, project justification, stakeholder list and their level of influence, constraints (as defined by the stakeholders), relevant organizational information, summary budget, and of course, stakeholder approval signature (can be digital signature). A complete discussion of the inputs, tools/techniques and outputs for the Project Charter is contained in Section 4.1 in the PMBOK (pp.81-86).
The Project Charter does not contain management plans (e.g. how you will manage risk, communications, etc.). The Project Management Plan and will be discussed in our next blog (Planning Process).
As a Program or, Project Leader, if you take the time to make sure you have a Project Charter, you will improve your program/project effectiveness and you will be consistent with the project management industry profession’s Best Practices.