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SensiblePM101 – 004 | Project Charters

SensiblePM101 – 004 | Project Charters

In this episode The Sensible Project Manager discusses Project Charters and their importance in starting a project.

Listen to the Podcast:

SensiblePM Tip:

Project Charters (WBS):

  • What is the Project Charter?
  • What is the value of the Project Charter?

Read the Transcript

Welcome to SensiblePM 101 where you can find practical tips for dynamic project management. My name is Mark Phillipy and I am the Sensible Project Manager. In today’s episode I will talk about project charters and their importance in starting a project right.

The first question really is what is a project charter? Well a project charter in simple terms is the document which initiates the project. It’s the thing that identifies the vision and/or the objectives of the project. Now it is usually developed by the project sponsor. Sometimes he might have somebody else develop the actual document. It could actually be the project manager himself, or it could be somebody else on the team. But essentially it is a document which comes from or is authorized by the project sponsor. Some of the things that it will include in it, are really again the objective or the vision of the project, what the business case is. It will identify the stakeholders of the project. It should identify what the high level scope of the project is. It will lay out the timeframe in which the project should be delivered in. It also will identify the high level budget. In other word how much are you going to be able to spend on this project? Another thing that it identifies is the authority that is given to the project manager. Each organization uses project managers differently, but the project charter actually should identify what that authority is, that the project manager will have for the project.

Now what is it that you should with a project charter? Think of it as your project bible. That is where you are going to go back and refer to often in your project to give you the guidance you need. It’s what allows you to help keep your project in scope and in the budget and in the timeframe. Not that the project charter is going to be detailed enough to provide all of the details that you need to be able to control your project. This is definitely different from the project management plan, but the charter will give you that guideline or those boundaries. Understanding those boundaries that the project is going to be guided under is really important to you as the project manager. You can then refer back often to keep the project in line. The other thing that you will use that project charter for is to be able to help understand how to measure your success. In other words that project charter will give you the boundaries or guidance that will allow you to identify that if I deliver this within this charter, out the other end of the project that will allow me to be successful. So that measurement of success is an important part. So that’s what a project charter is about. It’s an important thing to do. I would never start a project without that project charter, because you are never going to have enough clarity to what you are doing in the project, and I would definitely keep that around and control the project based on that charter. And again, that’s the way to start the project. I hope that helps you to understand what a project charter is.

Alright, thank you for listening to the SensiblePM 101. I hope this practical tip helps you in your project management journey. Now remember, return often to I have these kinds of tips and a lot more. Leave a comment or subscribe to the podcast either on iTunes or on the website and feel free to leave your thoughts about what you would like to hear more of or a specific topic even. Please if you want to email me at You can find me on twitter @sensiblepm. Or you can find me on LinkedIn or Google+. My name is Mark Phillipy. And remember, the sensible project manager always looks for the practical way to lead a project to success.

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