Project charters and the keys to a successful implementation

Before starting a new project, every project manager is responsible for preparing a number of documents to make the project run as smoothly as possible, one of which is a project charter. In most of my projects, my team and I have made a concerted effort to create a properly organised project charter. But first, let us look at what a project charter is and how to create one.
Oblique view of papers with text on a table.


What is a project charter?

A project charter is a short document that outlines the scope, objectives and responsibilities of the project. It also serves as an introduction to the project for everyone, especially a new member of the project team. Because it is a 'caricature' of the project, and works in a similar way to a roadmap, the project charter allows each stakeholder to understand the broader perspective of the project. It will give people a general idea of the project, especially new project members who are not involved in the project when it starts.

The purpose of the project charter

Through this little sheet, we're able to explain the nature of the projects to everyone, to align everyone's thinking through a well explained charter, and it will also help each project team member to get an idea of the projects, similar to a caricature, and it can be well used for further project planning. Furthermore, you can get approval for your project.

How can we prepare a smart project charter?

Preparing a well-structured and intelligent project charter is something that a project manager and his team really need to do. It is important to do this with your team, as they will give you input on different things in their area, and may also tell you about problems that may arise. In order to achieve a smart project, we need to put a lot of emphasis on several points:
  • The project charter is not complex, it should be very easy to understand and anyone can read it.
  • A good project charter will be 5 pages or less.
  • The project charter should be very concise about the project.

Major elements required for a better project charter

The next step is to work out what the most important parts of the project charter are. It is always best to avoid writing long things into the charter, as stakeholders only need to know the basics to make a decision. A project charter must include the name of the project, its scope, objectives and responsibilities. You should outline why the project is important and what the key objectives are for completing it. Explain how it will support the organisation's goal. To create a good project objective you should follow the SMART method as it should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. As mentioned above, scope is also important. It is important to say what you want to achieve, but also where you draw the line. Because you know what you want to achieve, you can also give an overview of the budget. The final element is the people working on the project. This includes all key project stakeholders, project sponsors and the project team. If you have not already done so, prepare a short resource management plan showing how the various resources will be allocated during the project.

How to continue with the project charter in the initial phase of the project

It is important to remember that the project charter should only contain the objective, scope and responsibilities. Once it is approved, you can move on to a project plan, which contains everything in more detail, such as the budget, milestones or a timeline.
  1. First project kick-off meeting with project stakeholders
  2. Project manager and project team prepare project charter
  3. Send draft to project team and project board for review
  4. Once the review is complete, incorporating all comments from the discussion, the final draft can be circulated for further project planning and scheduling.


Project managers should never start a new project without first drafting a project charter. It's intended as an introduction to the project, so that everyone can get on the same page. A well-organised project charter will be concise, no more than five pages long, and easy to read. It should outline the project name, scope, objectives, governance, budget, assumptions, risks, constraints and responsibilities. For the benefit of the project's sponsor, initiator or manager, the charter should be written early in the project's life cycle.

Project charter - the author
Author: Mahesh EV is our Senior Official for the Metropolitan Regions of New Delhi, Calicut and Trivandrum. He has been working as a project manager for more than 11 years. He has hands-on experience in procurement and construction of projects through methodical planning, scheduling, application of appropriate project controls, monitoring of costs and risks and optimum utilisation of resources. Further, he has demonstrated his skills in successfully planning and executing several projects from kick-off to handover in various industries such as thermal power plants and renewable energy projects across India.
Keywords: Project management, Project charter

The IAPM certification

The certification can be taken via a reputable online examination procedure. The costs are based on the gross domestic product of your country of origin.

From the IAPM Blog

Become a Network Official

Do you want to get involved in project management in your environment and contribute to the further development of project management? Then become active as an IAPM Network Official or as a Network Official of the IAPM Network University. 

For better readability, we usually only use the generic masculine form in our texts. Nevertheless, the expressions refer to members of all genders.