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8 Tips For a Great Project Charter
By Chris Young

The “project charter” is a critical document which clearly defines the parameters within which a project must operate. To find out more about creating a charter, please see my article entitled “What is a Project Charter?“.

To ensure the success of your next project, here are some tips to consider in relation to your charter.

  1. Engage your sponsor

    Ensure you know who the sponsor is and that they understand their role and responsibilities in relation to the project. Make certain they are fully engaged and that they agree to actively support the project.

  2. Engage your project owner

    Similarly, ensure you know who the project owner is. Confirm that they agree to actively own the business case, help steer the project and manage the realization of benefits.

  3. Involve your key stakeholders

    Thoroughly identify your key stakeholders and get them actively involved in the development of the charter. Early engagement creates a sense of ownership and will help you identify potential issues early.

  4. Identify the strategic contribution

    Confirm that the strategic contribution of the opportunity or problem to be resolved is clearly understood and articulated. Sometimes the longer term strategic view can be lost in the enthusiasm (or panic) of achieving a short-term outcome or resolving a significant issue.

  5. Specify a timeframe

    When setting the overall project timeframe, ensure that the key milestones are identified and that the resulting dates are realistic. Include estimates on the overall effort and duration of activities and use benchmarks from other projects to assist in validating your delivery schedule.

  6. Determine impact and benefits

    Document all the potential impacts and benefits across the business, both financial and non-financial. Include what the project is expected to deliver (benefits), what other effects the project might have (impact) and also what is not going to be delivered (out of scope).

  7. Identify risks

    Identify and document the major risks and for each risk include details of the risk mitigation plans along with an owner who has responsibility for ensuring that each risk is managed and escalated.

  8. Produce a financial estimate

    The financial estimate for both costs and benefits should be reasonable, logical and complete. Check that each of your project costs and benefits are fully estimated and linked to clear business outcomes.

Developing a comprehensive charter, with full engagement of your sponsor, project owner and key stakeholders, is the first step towards delivering your outcomes on time, within budget and to the desired levels of quality and completeness. Congratulations on taking the first step towards “Exceptional Project Management”!

Christopher Young is a senior consultant and executive coach with a broad knowledge and experience in financial services, project and change management, personal empowerment and information technology. His areas of focus include developing highly successful leaders, creating high-performance teams and implementing best practices in process improvement, project management and software development process.

White Water Consulting ( ) is one of Australia’s leading project management consulting firms, specialising in exceptional delivery of projects for the Financial Services market.

Achievement Coaching and Consulting ( ) assists professionals to reach their individual goals of enhanced business performance and personal satisfaction.

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