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PMBOK mnemonics & summary: a cheat-sheet with all you should know about the project charter

Agile Project Management
Agile Project Management (Photo credit: VFS Digital Design)
The project charter is one of the most important project documents. It documents the decision to launch a project. If the customer of the project is external to the company realizing the project, then the project charter is a contract.

PS: if you do not know what the project charter is, you should really start by reading the PMBOK!

The 5 inputs to the project charter are easy to remember if you understand the logic behind them:
  • The project charter documents the decision to launch the project, so it necessarily takes as input:
    1. A description of the project: the statement of work (SOW)
      • The key elements required to described the project are easy to guess, because they come from common sense: high level (measurable) objectives, requirements, budget, risks, milestones, stakeholders, name of the project manager and scope of responsibilities (power...), name of the sponsors who decides to launch the project
    2. A justification for the project: the business case
    3. The formal agreement from the sponsors (SLAs, MOU, emails...)
  • Every project is influenced by its context of execution, so, additional inputs to the project charter can be used:
    1. Organisational process assets: templates, standard processes (quality), historical data about past projects...
    2. Enterprise environmental factors (EEF): standards, regulations, company culture...
As the inputs to the project charter provide a lot of data and the project charter is written by the sponsoring entity (not by the Project Manager), the job of the project manager is quite simple: it must just have a critical view on the inputs provided. The tools she uses to obtain this critical view are the following:
  1. Expert judgment
    • It involves relying on internal or external skills to obtain a critical view
  2. Facilitation techniques
    • The list of facilitation techniques is long: meeting management, problem solving, conflict resolution, negotiation... 
I recommend you to refer to the PMBOK if you want to learn more about these techniques!

NB: Do you have other tips to remember the key elements about the project charter? Then, please share your thoughts and experience in the comment box below!

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