Are Project Charters Really That Important?

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By Kailey Hanson

Simple answer, yes. They are extremely important. But why? Is it because as Project Managers we have an undying need to document everything we come across? Is it because as PM’s we know the multiple reasons behind its worth? While these reasons are quite compelling, the importance of a well-produced charter runs much deeper.

In her book: PM Crash Course for IT Professionals, Rita Mulcahy states,

“Do not underestimate the value of the project charter. The project charter is such an important document that a project should not be started without one. If the project charter serves as a definition of how success will be measured, then without a project charter, the project and project manager cannot be successful.”

This single document yields several critical outputs including: formally establishing the Project Manager and their authority, clearly stating the business case, outlining preassigned resources, stakeholder requirements, a description of the deliverables, measurable objectives, approval requirements, an overview of foreseeable risks and finally the initiator/sponsor will sign and authorize the document.

As a fellow PM, a charter is crucial because that’s where your project gains its legitimacy. Without sponsor approval and backing your project, which may mean the world to you, may mean nothing to the rest of the organization. Ensure that EVERY project you take on is equipped with a sound charter.

Kailey Hanson

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