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Eight Powerful Project Management Processes Part 1: Project Charter

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Eight Powerful Project Management Processes Part 1: Project Charter

March 17, 2014
Photo of a man filling out a project charter.

This post introduces our series on the “Eight Powerful Project Management Processes,” a look at the project management processes that we have found to be most crucial to project success. These processes are also available in our toolkit, Essential Gear for Project Managers.

One of the most critical project management processes is the development of a project charter. The project charter is the document authorizing a project and containing initial requirements of the project to satisfy stakeholder expectations.

Project managers should promote the idea that without a project charter there is no project. While projects can still be conducted without charters, there are several reasons why having one is important:

1. The project charter is a key step in initiation.

The project charter is the central document for the team to record its understanding of the project and its goals and is used to authorize resources. Without the formal backing of a charter, a project typically is more susceptible to failure due to withdrawal of stakeholder support or necessary resources.

2. The project charter is a place to identify key stakeholders.

It is important to know the project’s key stakeholders and be able to gauge their attitudes and level of project engagement. Project managers should work with the team and organization to identify all key stakeholders so that they do not miss a potential champion or barrier.

3. Creating the project charter provides the foundation for further planning.

The process of creating the project charter involves establishing preliminary project baselines, including the requirements to be fulfilled (scope), the general amount of time available (time) and the general idea of the available budget (cost). These baselines are later refined into the project management plan.

4. The project charter is a place to document possible risks.

Proactive risk management should happen often throughout the project, and the project charter process is a good opportunity to begin identifying and planning for risks. The project manager should work with stakeholders and the team to identify possible risks, develop a strategy for assessing them, and start logging them.

5. The project charter is a place to document assumptions and constraints.

Assumptions and constraints form a basis for conducting project management by providing limitations to the solutions. The project charter is a central place to document these for everyone involved in the project.

6. The project charter process encourages collaboration.

Did you notice how many of these points contained a sentence such as, “The project manager should work with . . .” ? The process of developing the charter encourages consistent collaboration, helping to create a positive team environment, solve problems quickly, and encourage growth.

Project managers should be involved in creating project charters to become familiar with their project. Project managers not involved in charter creation should still request one for each of their projects. Establishing the necessity of project charters will help organizations grow their project management practice.

Essential Gear for Project Managers is a toolkit with the eight essential project management processes you need to deliver projects on time, on budget, and exceeding expectations. Delivered to you via intuitive templates and a handbook describing best practices and pitfalls.

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