A Sample Template for Project Charters

Alex S. Brown, PMP IPMA-C

Charter Template Instructions

The project charter should be filled out and approved as early as is practical in the project lifecycle. It is part of the initiation of the project, naming the project manager and giving him or her authority. Use this template as soon as the project idea is formulated, before planning begins. If the project has already been approved, whether orally or in writing, then fill out the template as soon as possible to capture the approved project in a consistent, complete format.

The Fields on the Form

Fill out every field on the template. Replace all text in brackets (“<…>”) with the appropriate information. When in doubt, consult with the prospective team members or sponsors. The entire document should be short (two- to three-pages) and business-oriented.

Project Name Describe the project as completely as possible, in as few words as possible. Avoid terms that would only be clear to the team members. Use language that people outside the project can understand. Select the name carefully; it will be used to refer to the project for the life of the effort.

Put the name in the form header and in the left-hand column, in the first row of the table.

Project Description Describe the essential elements of the project in a few paragraphs. Include
information about the current situation and what will be different when the
project is complete. Focus on the value of the changes to the organization.
Put the description in the right-hand column, in the first row of the table.
Objectives Create a bulleted list of the most critical objectives of the project. Do not simply
repeat items from the description. List critical goals and final results.
Size Choose a size category of small, medium, or large. If available, give executivelevel
information about the cost and impact to the organization.
Criticality Choose a size category of low, medium, or high. Provide information about the
urgency and the benefits of the project, to explain the selected rating. Consider
the criticality based on the broadest view of the organization, not the narrow
needs of a particular group.

Customizing the Template

This template was designed for a specific company, and the fields on the template are designed to provide the key information that senior executives need to decide whether to proceed with a project or cancel it. Care was taken to define general-purpose criteria that would be useful for many years and many different types of projects, but the template may not meet the needs of all projects for all organizations.

Organizations should review the template and look at the criteria that their decision-makers use when determining whether to proceed with a project proposal or cancel it. Feel free to change the items in the template, remove them, or add new ones. These instructions should also be customized to reflect the needs of the organization.

Project Charter Template

<Project Name> <Description>
Objectives
Size <Small, Medium, Large>
Criticality <Low, Medium, High>
Risk of Doing
Risk of Not Doing
Interdependencies

Last updated <mm/dd/yyyy>

Prepared by <Preparer name, usually PM, sponsor or both>

Approved by <Chief Officer name and title> on <mm/dd/yyyy>

<Add additional approvals as needed>

Approved by Executive Committee on <mm/dd/yyyy>

You are allowed and encouraged to use, adapt, and redistribute these instructions and the related template. You are required to keep the copyright notice (© 2005 Alex S. Brown. All rights reserved.) and a link to the website http://www.alexsbrown.com. The notice and link may either appear on the template and instructions themselves or on the place where the template and instructions are copied from, downloaded, or otherwise accessed. The notice and link must be visible to anyone accessing the template.

A Sample Charter Using the Template

Office Consolidation Project The company currently has a branch office within a few miles of its main office. Due to a recent vacancy in building of the main office, the company has the opportunity to move the branch office into the same building as the main office.The branch office furniture, electrical wiring, and network wiring are old and were due for replacement shortly. By combining the two offices, the company will have the chance to update the infrastructure. The building owner is offering incentives that will help cover the costs of these needed upgrades.

Commercial office rental rates are low now, and this effort will provide a chance to renegotiate and lock in lower rates for both the new space and the main office space.

Objectives
  • Bring branch office into the same building
    as the main office
  • Reduce the monthly rent costs for the total
    office space
  • Upgrade the furniture and wiring of the
    branch office, using building credits
    provided by the building owner
  • Improve communication and cooperation
    between the two offices by combining the
    office space
Size Medium

The project will not affect the main office
employees only slightly as construction proceeds.
Branch office staff will be impacted through the
move.

Based on rough per-square-foot estimates, the
overall cost will be between $??MM and $??MM.
These will be offset by landlord credits expected
to total $??MM.

Criticality Medium

Office space has been slow to change hands near
the main office. The vacancy plus the lower
rental costs is an unusual opportunity. Because
the branch office infrastructure is old, the project
is also an excellent opportunity to make changes
that would be needed in two to five years
anyway. We believe that the project will result in
long-term savings for the company.

The criticality is not “high” because the company
could successfully operate in its current office
space.

Risk of Doing
  • The move may disrupt the branch office
    operations (good planning will mitigate)
  • Costs may be greater than expected,
    reducing the financial benefits of the
    reduced rent (good financial controls will
    mitigate)
  • Communication benefits might not be
    realized (strong management action could
    mitigate)
Risk of Not Doing
  • Rents may rise, forcing the company to
    pay more expensive rates than offered
    today
  • Infrastructure upgrades in the branch
    office may be needed sooner than
    expected, and may disrupt the branch as
    much or more than the office
    consolidation
  • Communication between branch office
    and main office may remain poor or get
    worse, due to physical separation of staff
Interdependencies The move will need to be coordinated with the
Branch Office Business Process Redesign effort.
Schedules must be coordinated to take into
account the fact that branch staff will be
unavailable during key time, such as the week of
the move.

Last updated 9/24/2005

Prepared by Alex S. Brown, PMP

Approved by John Smith, Facilities Manager on 10/1/2005

Approved by Executive Committee on 10/5/2005

One Response to “A Sample Template for Project Charters”

  1. BudB says:

    Great help. I would add that if you want to implement some visual data to your charter, you should check out this template as well.

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