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1.20 Charter


 The Project Charter is a preliminary outline of the objectives and scope of the project. It typically follows a feasibility study, cost-benefit analysis, or some other deliberative effort that has concluded that an opportunity or challenge exists that merits launching an initiative to address it.  All projects require a Charter.

 Once approved, the Charter documents the agreement between the sponsor and the project manager that planning for the project will proceed.  The Charter documents the “what” of the project.  The subsequent plan, which results from the planning process, will document the “how.”


The Charter has the following attributes:

  1. Provides an understanding of the project requirements (i.e. project purpose, objectives, scope and major deliverables, functions and features) from the project sponsor's perspective.

  2. Makes a preliminary identification of the stakeholders and their interests, expectations, and concerns.

  3. Identifies linkages and dependencies.

  4. Provides high-level, rough order-of-magnitude estimates for budget, timelines, and resourcing requirements.

  5. Identifies major risk areas.

  6. Provides the basis for approval to proceed with detailed project planning.


Process Inputs

A Deliberative Document

Process Outputs

A Project Charter


While the development of a Deliberative Document does not typically involve a substantial commitment of organizational resources, development of a full blown project plan does.  The investment in preparing a Project Charter, to more fully explore and detail the initiative sketched in the Deliberative Document is thus warranted.  Much of the information from earlier documents can be summarized or incorporated in the Charter.  However the Charter also goes into areas not typically addressed in these earlier documents.  Such areas include the key functions and features or the proposed deliverables, the relationship of this initiative to other current or proposed work, and key assumptions.  Some limited stakeholder engagement is also typical of a Charter, as other organizational units may be called upon to provide expertise in planning the project.  The Charter also provides an opportunity for the sponsor to identify any critical requirements or constraints that may not have been earlier identified.


  1. Obtain all preliminary documents (feasibility study, cost-benefit analysis, etc.)

  2. Interview sponsor and other experts to clarify project objectives, scope, major deliverables, stakeholders’ issues and concerns, and links and dependencies.

  3. Develop high-level Work Breakdown Structure to better define scope and determine project components and milestone events.

  4. Develop order-of-magnitude estimates for timelines, budget, and required resources.

  5. Consult with sponsor and others as required to develop a high-level list of risks.

  6. Develop draft versions of the document, reviewing with sponsor and others. These become Versions 0.2, 0.3, etc.

  7. Perform any other reviews with stakeholders as needed. (This step may be done by the sponsor.) Modify as needed.

  8. When the Project Charter receives approval it will become Version 1.0. Subsequent versions of the Charter are uncommon but, if they are required, minor revisions may become Version 1.1, etc.. Major revisions would become Version 2.0.

  9. The Project Charter is the project manager’s formal authority to plan the project as described.It constitutes formal approval to draw on other organizational resources to the extent necessary to develop the Project Plan.

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