The Anatomy of an Effective Project Charter

Projects move innovations from concept to commercialization. They can be standalone or part of a series, yet their aim always remains the same: to achieve the goals and objectives that will give you a competitive advantage in your market. A project charter enables you to first define these goals and objectives, and then communicate them to your staff and stakeholders in order to ensure buy-in and support for your project initiation activities.

Elements of an Effective Project Charter

An effective project charter addresses some or all of the following elements:

Purpose and objectives.

State the aim of your project and outline the objectives you must meet to achieve that aim. Objectives must be specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time-constrained (SMART).


Identify the strategy for completing your project and explain the methods and processes you will use.


Set boundaries for your project to ensure that your project only includes work that helps you to achieve your goals.

Roles and responsibilities.

Identify the key people/organizations who will be involved in your project and describe their roles and responsibilities.


List the deliverables that will be generated during implementation and upon completion of your project, along with key milestones and target dates. Deliverables should be specific and measurable.

Costs and resources.

Estimate the cost of your project and identify the resources available to you. Consider any additional expenses you might incur upon completion of your project, including staff training and quality assurance costs.


Identify and devise strategies for mitigating any risks that may have an adverse impact on your project.

Constraints and assumptions.

List any factors that may influence your decisions and strategies, such as limited resources and imposed completion dates.

Devising an Agreeable Project Charter

The person or group that identified your need to resolve an issue or exploit an opportunity should be responsible for the development, coordination and approval of your project charter. However, as a project charter is an agreement between several parties, its development requires a collaborative approach. Once finalized and approved, your project charter should be kept in an accessible location and referenced throughout your project’s lifecycle.

A project charter is an invaluable tool in the initiation of any project. When your project is supported by a good charter, you are able to capture the rationale and agreement for your project and acquire the resources crucial to ensuring your success.