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The Project Charter

The Project Charter

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The Project Charter is a document that defines the project by specifying project stakeholders and how the project manager approaches the task. A project charter is usually a more detailed document than a Project Proposal. It is occasionally used in place of the Project Proposal in a few organisations.

The audience may include the Managing Director, Board of Directors, Chief Financial Officer and Program Director. The partakers in Project Charter within the organisation require approval for the project to proceed to the planning phase.

The Project Charter should include:

  • Project Objectives that describes the Client’s requirements, the organisation, and other essential stakeholders who are usually expressed in SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-limited), defining the purposes of the project in terms of business benefits.
  • The Scope Statement is a statement defines the capacity to which the project will accomplish and provides a detailed definition of what it will deliver, giving all stakeholders a shared understanding of what the project will institute. At this stage, it’s essential to define clear deliverables for the project to ensure shared expectations of stakeholders. 
  • Exclusions are the section identifies specific items/tasks that are not incorporated into the project (e.g. work that will be done under a separate project). Exclusions clearly define things to be excluded from the project (e.g. landscaping, street furniture). Formally stating those things that do not project deliverables clarify stakeholders’ understanding of the project’s scope.  
  • Project Assumptions generally involve a degree of risk representing factors that, for planning purposes, will be considered authentic, accurate, or specific (e.g. secondment of resources). Assumptions generally involve a degree of risk factors regarded as valid, correct, or precise.
  • Project Constraints are element explores the issues that may restrict how a project is delivered and envisioned to have a 100% chance of occurring, as these limitations are considered beyond the project manager’s capacity to modify or remove (e.g. statutory regulations, budget, traffic needs, weather) that limit the project manager’s options for delivering the project.
  • Project Risks describes the relevant dependencies and significant risks associated with undertaking the project, including safety, financial, political, environmental, and resourcing; the project may depend on other projects.
  • Project Organisation explains how the project resources are structured within the project’s organisation, including the hierarchy of its key team members and its relationship to the organisational structure. These record the operational management relationships between the project office and the organisation and should include:
    1. The name of the project sponsor
    2. The name of the designated project manager and date of assignment
    3. The support, including interface coordination to be allocated to the project manager by the sponsoring organisation/division
    4. The authorities of the project manager, including appropriate references to company policy and other guidelines
    5. The reporting channels of the project manager designate to account for the size, complexity, and importance of the project and to eliminate unnecessary layers of authority above the project manager.
    6. Special instructions, or representatives of authority, to the project manager to execute the approved project.
    7. Special requirements for a transition or handover; broadly outline the conditions under which the project management organisation shall phase out or transfer authority.
  • Project Management document is preliminary planning considerations, particularly in terms of time, resourcing, budget and risk, and should include:  
    1. High-level description of the major deliverables and scheduled delivery dates
    2. Essential resource requirements for the project include project team skills, equipment and any other resources
    3. Budget estimate based on the additional help required for the project
    4. Description of significant risks and a preliminary impact assessment
  • Approvals are for a project to successfully cruise, the following authorisations need to obtain:
    1. The organisation’s commitment to the project as a whole
    2. Formal authorisation from the project sponsor (the person providing the funds) for the project to commence
    3. Formal authorisation from any relevant parties in the chain of command (i.e. the Program Director or Managing Director)
    4. Written correspondence from the appropriate bodies that all relevant statutory approvals are granted (any conditions of the approvals should be noted and recorded for future reference)
  • Completion of the Phase includes Concept & Initiation Phase will consider complete when the following activities are complete:
    1. All necessary approvals have been obtained
    2. A project budget and a cost centre or equivalent account code have been assigned to the project
    3. The Project Proposal, Project Charter and any approval documents have been carefully filed for future reference 

The project may then move into the second phase of the Project Lifecycle – the Design & Development Phase.

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