Charting The Course

April 28, 2017 by FlexPro

Over the past several months, Lynn and I have been writing about the various phases of project management and what’s involved within them.  This month, I’d like to delve a little deeper into a part of the Initiation phase, more specifically the project charter. The project charter is a high-level document designed to outline a given project’s goals and business case – it’s what officially authorizes the project. The project charter details project goals, sets team member responsibilities, defines roles and identifies stakeholders. It also defines the authority of the project manager and serves as a reference for the project’s future.

There are many factors that can contribute to the success or failure of a project and throughout there are no details that can be overlooked. Right from the get go in the Initiation phase, the project charter will set the course of action for the team, acting as a roadmap and setting the direction. It sets the projects purpose and helps the team to keep track of whether they are meeting the projects goals. And while I consider it a high-level document, I also feel it needs to be understandable and fairly simple. One of the greatest values of the charter development process is getting everyone on the same page about “why” there is a need for the project in the first place. The other key point is the importance getting a sponsor identified and involved from the beginning. It’s the best way to ensure everyone is on the same page and will help prevent any confusion later regarding the project’s goals. I always preach the importance of strong communication and it’s just as important here between the project manager, the team and the sponsor.

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”

~Howard Schultz

For me, the portion of the project charter that stands out the most is the shared purpose it presents the team. Everyone knows why they’re there, their role, the timeline and the goal. As the project progresses if anyone starts to get off point, the charter is always there to get them back on track. Everyone is working toward that common goal and hopefully, as different as their roles may be, still watching out for each other so that the end point stays in focus.

With so many components that make up the project management principles, the project charter is another important part of the puzzle. Doing it well and with the right people is a definite key to success.

-Rose Cook, FlexPro CEO

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