An effective project charter can make all the difference in securing the resources and support necessary to launch a project. The following instructions can be used to complete the above templates.
(1) Project Description
The project description should be concise and specific in terms of the scope and goals. In this example, the project description is, “Error-proof the hardware packaging operations to reduce the missing hardware rate from 3.3% to 1.2%. Error proofing will be accomplished by adding three new hardware packing stations to replace the existing manual stations.” Note how much relevant information is packed into those two sentences.
(2) Business Need
State the business need, and add any relevant metrics if possible. In this case the business need is, “(1) Missing hardware is an ongoing issue that affects customer satisfaction (2) the customer service team spends approximately $80K/yr in dealing with missing parts (customer calls, shipping costs, etc.).” This is a strong combination of both tangible ($80K/yr missing parts cost) and intangible (customer satisfaction) costs that the project will address.
(3) Project Ownership / Approval
This section is self-explanatory. A project manager (who will run the project) and project champion (a senior management member to support the project team) should always be proposed as part of the project definition.
(4) Financial and Timing Goals
- The first block focuses on the project’s financial payback, which will typically receive the most scrutiny from business leaders. It is beneficial to meet with a finance representative and other appropriate functions (typically in the same meeting) to agree on the project’s financial payback when completing this section of the project definition.
- The second block focuses on project implementation cost, which should also be reviewed with the finance team and other appropriate functions prior to presenting the project to senior management.
- The third block focuses on the project’s major milestones and when they will be completed.
- The first block focuses on internal resource requirements, which are commonly expressed in average hours per week for each individual.
- External services refer to any significant outside help that might need to be contracted for the project. In this case, an equipment builder will be needed to support the project.
- Lastly, project risks are identified and color-coded as medium (yellow) or high (red). Project risks should be reviewed with a cross-functional team prior to reviewing the project definition with senior management.