November 20

Project Charter – the ultimate guide (+ free download)

Mind Mapping, MP4PM, PMBoK Guide, Resourses


​We have just released our very first package out of our upcoming initiative "MP4PM - MindMapPing for Project Management" - the "MP4PM Project Charter Template and Toolkit" package.

To see what is all included and to download your package just click on the button below:

Are you new to Project Management? Looking for a PMBoK aligned Project Charter Template? As an experienced project manager, do you need a practical solution that can be easily integrated into existing processes?

Then this article in combination with our "MP4PM Project Charter Template and Toolkit" package might be helpful for you.

​​In this article we will take a look at what a Project Charter is and why you need it. You will learn what should be included. We will also shed some light on the benefits of a Project Charter and finally we have outlined a checklist with all the steps you need to take to create a Project Charter (which fits perfectly with our "MP4PM Project Charter Template and Toolkit Package"!)

MP4PM Project Charter template

​Ok, here we go:

What is a project charter and why do you need one?

The project charter authorizes the project and enables the project manager to assign resources to the project work. It’s all about power. The project manager is officially identified in the ​charter, though the project manager should be selected as early as possible during the project.

The project charter also demonstrates the organization’s commitment to the project and the investment in the endeavor. According to PMI, it is not the project manager, who creates and issue's the ​charter. In an ideal project world the ​charter comes from outside of the project.

What is a project charter and why do you need one?

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The project manager may help develop the project charter, but it’s not signed or issued by the project manager; the ​charter needs the authority of a higher instance in the organization who has the power to provide the ​​resources the project will require. 

But the project manager is accountable for the project charter getting issued. ​Any of the following should issue the project charter:

  • Sponsor
  • Project management office
  • Portfolio governing body, such as a steering committee
  • Program organization
  • Portfolio organization
  • Authorized organizational representative

​The project manager or business analyst may create a business case that defines why a project needs to be chartered. It can be because of opportunities, problems that need to be solved, business requirements, and lots of other reasons.

A business case determines whether the investment in the project is worth making. The business case will define the project purpose and characteristics, such as the following: 

  • ​Market demand
  • ​Business need
  • ​Customer request
  • ​Technological advance
  • ​Legal requirements
  • ​Ecological impacts
  • ​Social need

​​Creating the Project Charter

The point of the project charter - besides authorizing the project and the project manager - is, to launch the project officially and to enable the project manager to start with planning the project work and get it done.

​​Creating the Project Charter

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The ​charter gives the project a definite start and maps out the high-level objectives for the project. The ​charter needs to communicate all of the following directly or through references to other documents: 

  • ​​Project purpose
  • ​Project requirements for satisfaction
  • ​High-level project description
  • ​High-level requirements
  • ​High-level risks
  • ​Milestone schedule
  • ​​Summary budget
  • Stakeholder list
  • Project approval requirements
  • Exit criteria
  • Project manager
  • Project sponsor
MP4PM Project Charter map

​​To develop the project charter, the project manager will most likely rely on expert judgment. Expert judgment, ​simply means the project manager is relying on someone with more knowledge and wisdom to help make the best decisions for the project. For the ​charter, expert judgment can be from people with insight into the organization’s strategy, benefits management techniques, technical knowledge, estimating skills for schedule and costs (like certified PMI-SP's), and risk management (like certified PMI-RMP's).
The project charter will also need data to communicate the goals of the project. Data-gathering techniques for creating the ​charter include the following:

  • ​Brainstorming
  • Focus groups
  • ​Interviews

During this early process, the project manager will need to implement meeting management skills to keep people on track and keep the ​charter creation process moving forward. 

The project manager may also need some conflict management skills to manage disagreement among stakeholders. Finally, the project manager may be serving as a facilitator when meeting with large groups of project stakeholders.

Benefits of a Project Charter

Creating a project charter at or before the beginning of the project is often seen as a formalism and as unnecessary; ​especially in smaller organizations with a lower project management maturity.

Benefits of a Project Charter

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But there are some undisputable benefits and advantages of having a ​charter. (Note: In an ideal project world like PMI defines it, the project charter is always mandatory, no exception!)

1. The ​charter proves the project existence

The Project is ​officially authorized by the approval of the project charter. 
It helps to ensure that efforts and money are spent to achieve specific goals documented in the project charter. These goals are aligned with organization’s business and benefits strategy.

2. It clearly defines project start.

In the real world quite often there is no clearly defined project start. Projects tend to creep from pre-sale or initial feasibility assessment straight into the project planning or even implementing phase. With a documented project charter issued by a higher authority, this can't happen.

3. It sets the change management foundation.

Change is inevitable throughout a project, ​specifically a more complex and therefore ​often longer one.  A project charter will help you to manage that changes.  
In the project charter, the scope and the project objectives are defined. Based on that foundation you will be able to check and ensure that every change request is aligned with that definitions.

4. It sets mutual understanding of the project boundaries.

By providing project justification and setting specific requirements and goals like success but also exit criteria the project charter sets boundaries.

5. It states the assigned project manager and his level of authority.

That can be important especially in negotiations with other departments of the internal organization. Or also when stakeholder are changing. Imagine that an important stakeholder changes cause the legacy one has left the organization.  

6. It ​permits the project manager to use allocated resources.

My recommendation: Even if a ​charter is not required by your organization or by your customer, create one, communicate it to your stakeholders and get agreement on its content. You will not regret it; for sure. 

In the following section, I will help you create YOUR project charter template which you can use on any future project you will do. 

Why not ​searching for a project charter template (if you do a google search for the term "project charter" you will find a ton of samples and templates and that is ​the problem ... how should you know or decide​ which one to use?)?

Well, there is no universal project charter example!

Create your own project charter template which fits to your organizations and your PMOs/Stakeholder's needs! You need to do this just once and then you will have the perfect template fitting your needs for any future project.

And with my help and my "MP4PM Project Charter template and toolkit" you will get YOUR project charter template within a rush!

You may asl: "So, why just not use your MP4PM project charter template out of the box?"

Well, of course you can and please feel free ​to do so. But that template is build of the PMBoK Guide principles and has a generic character. ​At least ​you will need to ​customize it for the needs of your specific project.​

​Project Charter Example and Template

By following the links on that site here or just clicking at one of the buttons you will find my MP4PM project charter template and toolkit with examples for the most of the needed topics. 

But keep in mind that projects are unique. Some may require additional information stated in the ​charter; for some projects you might not need some of the topics (that means you will need to tailor the template/map scheme fitting your needs).

Project Charter Example and Template

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I would recommend to download the MP4PM project charter template and toolkit package. Extract the included deliverables into a folder and th​en copy that folder once more. Name one of the folders so you can identify it at any time as your generic MP4PM package. Then start working on the template using the files in the second folder (do not forget to give it an appropriate name). Customize the template(s) in that second folder (I would strongly recommend ​starting with the mind map if you do use any fitting software; if not you will still be able to benefit from it but then start with customizing the MS Word Template).

​Use small steps and work through each section and so you will develop your own project charter template (using my package as a starting point)..

The process may take you a few hours once (maybe much less while using my package). But having done that once, you will have a project charter template that works 100% for you and your organization.

Here is once again in detail the recommended process on how to develop your own project charter template (based on my MP4PM project charter template and toolkit):​

​How to Develop Project Charter -Step by Step

  1. Download my "MP4PM project charter template and toolkit" package (you find it here >>>)
  2. Extract the archive to a folder and make a copy of that folder. Name them in a way you can easily re-find them.
  3. Make your selfe confirm with the template by reading through its sections. I would strongly recommend ​starting with the mind map; if you do not use a mind mapping software which you can open the map with, just use the HTML Version of the map (it can be opened with any internet browser like Firefox, Internet Explorer etc. ...
  4. Talk to ​youre key stakeholders like your Sponsor, Client and so on, to collect the needed and project related information about the business case, high-level requirements, constraints, assumptions, risks. Best to do so again is using the mind map.
  5. Understand the project objective and how it is aligned with the business case, the organizatons strategy and benefits.
  6. Structure and re-organize the collected information based on your gained insights and outline your first draft.
  7. Utilizing Tools&Techniques; Enterprise Environmental Factors and Organizational Process Assets like consulting with subject matter experts, reviewing historical data, looking for similar projects, to improve your first draft.
  8. If given meet with the project management team and/or preassigned team members and get their input.
  9. Update the draft based on their inputs if necessary.
  10. Do a meeting with key stakeholders again, present the current version of the draft and get their feedback.
  11. Based on their feedback make final adjustments and finalize ​your project charter.
  12. Get the sign-off of the ​charter by your sponsor or any other authority who is in charge.

​That's it! Of course you may also adjust that process based on your own expertise, experiences and needs. 

How to develop a project charter - step by step

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​Now it is up to you!

I wish you success by creating your own project charter template. Please let ​me know how it works for you? How may I improve that template and process? Any suggestions? Any other feedback? I would love to hear what you have to say! Please use the comments section below that article to let me know! Thanks in advance!

And keep in mind that the "MP4PM project charter template and toolkit" is just the kick off for my "MP4PM"-​Initiative! If you don't want to miss any progress or when the doors to MP4PM open just register below for notification.

Thanks for taking time to read through this and thanks for using my MP4PM package! I do appreciate that!

Until next time!


​Here are some recommendations for further reading:

Do you want a MP4PM Sneak Preview? Well, here we go:

MP4PM Project Charter Package - FREE Download!

MP4PM Project Charter collage

​​If you are interested in a pre-taste of MP4PM you can now download my FREE MP4PM Project Charter Package!

​Click ​on the Button below to ​get ​your Free Package immediately and kick start your next Project with that Project Charter Package! 
​You will get several deliverables which you can use out of the box even if you never have done MindMapping before or even do not use a Mind Mapping Software currently.

​​Clicl on the Button to get an overview of what you will receive with this package. I am 100% confident that you will like it.

Should we inform you if MP4PM will be kicked off?



FREE, Mind Map, Mind Mapping, MP4PM, PMBoK Guide, Project, project charter, Project Management, project obejectives, Visualization

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