The project charter is a document that contains the basic information that gives rise to a project. Depending on the magnitude of the project —and the organization— it can be as simple as a handwritten piece of paper or an email, or as complex and formal as a multi-sheet template. However, the goal is the same: define the scope as precisely as possible.

Obviously, there is much more information that can – or should – go in the minutes, but we are going to see it in parts:

When is a Charter Drawn up?

The charter is drawn up at the beginning of the project; so early that it could be said that it is the charter that creates the project. Before the charter, the project is little more than a necessity and an idea.

It is after this document that the project can begin to be formally called as such.

Depending on the circumstances; This document can be prepared by: who will be the sponsor of the project, the director assigned to the project, the functional manager of an area; or in general by any person with authority in the organization.

What Does a Charter Include?

As mentioned before, the project management charter can be a small or very long document; however, there is a consensus on the minimum information that this document should include.

– The need or problem to be solved.

– The scope of the project; trying to define what will be done in the project as what is not part of the scope.

– The sponsor and the project director; Keep in mind that it is not always the project director who develops the charter, but it is important that they have participated in any business case.

– Risks and assumptions.

Now, I think it’s important to consider a few more things as well:

– Tentative name of the project.

– Main stakeholders.

– Tentative deliverables.

– Duration and/or budget; whether they are tentative, maximum, or estimated.

Bear in mind that the information included in the articles of incorporation will vary throughout the project; For this reason, take it as the opening of the database.

How is a Charter Made?

Making a charter – or a template – is a lot easier than it sounds.

It can be done by hand or use any software that stores text; I usually do it in a simple but effective .txt file. The steps that I propose below will allow you to have —at least— a first functional version of your project charter:

– Define the name of the project based on what you want to achieve; try not to make it too long.

– It raises the problem that the organization needs to solve or the need that the project hopes to satisfy.

– Write the scope of the project as specifically as possible; It includes what the project should achieve, what should be analyzed, but could be and also includes what is outside the scope of the project and should not be done as part of the project. Personally, I think that defining what is not part of the scope is very important.

– Put the names and roles of all the people related to the project identified so far. The sponsor and the project manager are part of this list.

– Estimate the duration and cost of the project.

– Consider any other relevant and circumstantial aspect of your project.

Remember that it is always good to write down its version in the document; This is something that does not apply only to the articles of incorporation, but to any document of the project that you carry out.