The Project Charter

DaveLitten's picture

The Project Charter is the “trigger” that formally starts the project, and as such is a vital and important document- the project cannot be started without one!


The Project Charter officially recognizes and authorizes that the project exists - without one, there is no project. It authorizes the project to begin, the project manager to assign resources to the project, and to spend money!


It provides the high-level requirements for the project, and links the project to the ongoing work of the organization.It is the target for the project, and a definition of how success will be measured.


The Project Charter documents the Business Need and justification, and describes the customer’s requirements.


A key input to the creation of the Project Charter is the Statement of Work (SOW), and this describes the product or service that the project was undertaken to complete – usually written by the Sponsor or the Buyer...


It is important for the PMP exam for you to know the following:


The Project Charter  is created in the initiating process group


The Sponsor issues the Project Charter, and is written in broad terms so that it would normally not need to change throughout the project. If any such change is requested,then it is likely that the project should not continue.


It is important that you do not confuse the project charter with the project management plan (which is far more detailed).


So What is included in a project charter?


Project Title and Description


This describes the reason and purpose of the project. 

Is it fixing a problem or gaining an advantage?


The Project Manager and assigned authority level


Fairly obvious, name the project manager, and also describe what authorities they have, for example setting budgets or timeframes within the project and authorizing changes


Business Need


This answers the question "WHY is this project being carried out" from the perspective of the business, 

and could describe how it either/or reduces pain or increases some form of gain.


Project Justification


This is the financial justification, and would include a high level dewcription of financial benefits.


Resources pre-assigned


The name and number of resources that are already in place along with the reason for this.




Naming those who will either affect or be affected by the project


Stakeholder Requirements


This will often be an attachement in the form of a requirements or specification document.


Product Description/Deliverables


This will detail the products that are to be created (not the activities!), and the main outcomes/end deliverable of the project. 


Wherever possible this should include the quality criteria for each product, or if this is not known yet, then the individuals responsible for determining such criteria


Constraints and assumptions


A constraint is a limiting factor that the project must work within, it may be time, cost, quality, or even the

need to comply with some process or procedure. All projects will have constraints.


An assumption is a statement which you believe at this time to be true. Assumptions should be continually checked, because if they are wrong, they are likely to impact the project in some way. Assumptions could be seen as risks.


For More information check out my PMP PRIMER


According to PMI's PMBOK 4th edition, the most important function of a project t charter is that gives authority to the project manage to apply resources to the project. A project charter includes high level budget, schedule, mile stones, risks, success criteria, and measurable objectives. All these details are high level, implying that detailed analysis will be conducted during planning. The project charter reflects the mindset of the sponsor so that the project manager may plan accordingly. For more details on project charter, PMP Exam, and changes to be incorporated in the PMP Exam on 31 August 2011, you may like to read useful articles at:


Hi Dave,

I am amazed with your You Tube Videos. Especially the Microsoft Project in 16 Mins. falt & Earned Value Management

I am about to buy your PM Primer but

Does PM Primer qualify for 35 hours of PM education?

Is PM Primer an REP of PMI?

I enquired at PMI chapter in my city, and they said that you shall have to have 35 education hours certificate to attempt the PMP?

Looking forward to your reply