Project Charter: How Important is It?

Note: This article was written by Randy Tangco, PMP and CSM.
The steering committee reached a decision. Because there is a business issue to resolve, they need to create a project. Designate the project manager, assign resources, and get to work. Hmmm? This sounds familiar?
What is the first document that you should have after a project has been selected? The project charter is the first document you need after a project has been selected. The project charter is an essential document for any project. It is a sign of your authority to initiate a project and to use company resources as the project manager. The majority of organizations don’t recognize the importance of the project charter and sometimes misuse it for other purposes.
Your project charter is where you sow the good seeds. It will take care of itself. A high-quality, leather-bound portfolio is what graphic artists use to showcase their best work. You will keep a copy of the project charter, a very important document, in this portfolio. Why? This portfolio, which is leather-bound, demonstrates to everyone how important you consider this document. The PMBOK Guide describes a project charter in terms of its potential benefits for the project. It is equally important to consider what this document can do in your favor. If your employer allows it, you can bring your leather-bound portfolio with you to job interviews. It will show your future employer that a charter has high priority.
The project charter is a great tool to overcome personal adversity and cultural gaps as well as misunderstandings in projects. Many companies recognize that project management is an essential skill that is required to meet their business strategy. They don’t often see the value in a project charter as part a project management initiative. Let’s look at an example of how a project charter was misused.
Project Selection and Chartering
Let’s take a look at one company. The project charter template was created by this company. It should contain the project purpose and background, scope, business case, milestones schedule, SDLC deliverables (schedules), milestones schedule, initial costs estimate, high-level risk, project management plan, cost-benefit information, and project management plan. The project manager will need to create all of this information. He may have to guess some of the data required to complete the charter since there is no input from the company. This can be frustrating and challenging.
The business case should first have been prepared by the business sponsor. It should have been part of the project selection process and approved. This will mean that the project manager will need to create this document. The milestone schedule is another problem I see. This data should not be included in the charter, especially if you have not formed a project team or have no idea of the scope of work. You will often be asked to include a milestone calendar.
The review and approval process for this charter takes approximately a month, depending on the availability and preferences of the reviewers. This is because the time spent on the charter is being added to the project duration. This is a way to see the complexity of your project from a high-level perspective.
How a good charter could improve projects
The charter authorizes a project manager or project coordinator to initiate a project that has been approved and to use resources to achieve the project’s goals. Alex Brown, CEO of Real-Life Project, Inc., once stated that a project charter could be as simple as an email from the CEO to a PM. Intriguing, isn?t it?
After a project has begun, a project charter can be very important. Josh Nankivel