What Is A Project Charter vs Project Plan (Example, Template)

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Last Updated on March 23, 2024 by andrewshih

What Is a Project Charter?

A project charter is an important document that outlines a project’s scope, objectives, and stakeholders.

It serves as a contract between the project team and management and defines the project manager’s authority.

The project charter is created at the start of a project to ensure that all parties involved agree regarding the goals and objectives. It also helps to keep everyone informed about any changes in scope or resources throughout its duration.

Project Charter Elements

The contents of a project charter vary depending on its purpose. A project charter typically includes details such as:

  • High-level project description
  • Project purpose and measurable objective
  • Success criteria
  • Key deliverables
  • Milestones
  • Requirements
  • Overall project risks
  • Preapproved resource and budget
  • Key stakeholders, roles, and responsibilities
  • Assigned project manager, responsibility, and authority.
  • Name of the sponsor or persons who authorize the project charter

A well-written charter can help ensure that all stakeholders understand their roles in delivering successful outcomes for a given project.

What are Project Plans

According to PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), A project plan is a comprehensive document that outlines a project’s scope and objectives, as well as the steps stakeholders will take to reach those objectives.

It provides a roadmap for delivering a successful project and guides teams during the execution stage of the project management life cycle. The plan includes considerations for risk management, resource management, communication, scope, cost, and schedule.

Project Charter vs Project Plan

The project charter and project management plan are both essential documents for a successful project.

The project charter is issued by the project sponsor, which formally authorizes the existence of the project and gives the project manager permission to allocate organizational resources to complete project activities.

On the other hand, the project management plan outlines how exactly the project will be implemented, monitored, and managed.

Project Charter vs Statement of Work (SOW)

There are key differences between a statement of work and a project charter.

A statement of work (SOW) usually serves as an external document between the client or buyer and the organization carrying out the project. SOW is a legally binding contract that outlines what will be included in the project and guarantees it will meet the client’s expectations.

On the other hand, a project charter is mainly for internal use within the organization undertaking the work. The charter clarifies the project and explains who solicited their services in completing it.

 Generally speaking, an SOW should be created before drafting up a project charter so that that project can commence once review and approval has been received.

Benefits of a Project Charter

Creating a project charter can be one of the most beneficial parts of a successful project. It serves as a framework to outline the goals, scope, roles and responsibilities, timeline, budget, and resources needed for a successful project outcome.

Some of the benefits include:

  • Providing a document for obtaining upper management approval.
  • Offer a clearer understanding of the scope and goals of the project.
  • Allow for greater collaboration amongst all stakeholders involved.
  • Set expectations for the group.
  • Help to ensure that everyone remains focused.

Who Writes a Project Charter?

The project manager is typically responsible for drafting the charter, while the project sponsor authorizes it and signs off on it.

The project sponsor, who must be at an appropriate level to fund the project, is ultimately responsible for authorizing the charter and allocating budgetary resources.

Meanwhile, the project manager knows the intricate details of charters and can draft a comprehensive document that meets all necessary requirements. Once complete, the sponsor must sign to give official approval.

How To Write a Project Charter?

Creating a project charter involves using a range of inputs, such as agreements, business cases, enterprise environmental factors, and organizational process assets, to create an effective framework for the project.

To ensure the project charter accurately reflects this information, there are various tools and techniques you can use, such as expert judgment, brainstorming meetings, focus groups, and interviews, along with conflict management and facilitation.

Tips for Writing a Project Charter

Having a ready-made template for each new project will streamline the process of setting up projects in your organization.

When creating a project charter template, you should consider including scope, timeline, stakeholders, risks/issues, and expected outcomes.

Set up clear expectations about who is responsible for what tasks. The project manager should also record any changes to the plan and communicate to all relevant parties involved.

Establishing this communication process from the beginning can make the entire project run smoother and avoid delays or hiccups further down the line.

Project Charter Template

There can be different variations of project charter templates and examples. Here is a project charter template for reference:

Project Charter Template

Project Charter Example

Here is a completed project charter example using the template above.

Project Charter Example

Project Charter Example PDF

If you like the example above, you can download the project charter example and template in PDF format.

Next Step

Let us know if you have any questions about the project charter.

If you have completed the project charter and are ready to manage the project scope, you may want to learn more about Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) next.

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