Once a project proposal or business case has been accepted, it’s a good idea to gather team members and stakeholders to develop a project charter together. The charter represents an agreement among interested parties regarding the nature of the work to be done, the commitment of resources, the timeline, and expectations (and in general, all parties contributing resources to the project should be included in both approval of and changes to the charter). Some information to consider including in this document follows.
Objectives & Deliverables
What is the purpose of the project? In other words, what is the problem to be solved or need to be addressed, and how will you do it? What product, service, or process will result? Explain, in terms comprehensible to a lay audience, the significance of your project and what it contributes to your field, institution, or community.
Preliminary Scope Statement
Consider not only what objectives and deliverables are within the scope of your project, but also consider what is not. Beware scope creep!
Assumptions & Constraints
Some project work requires enabling conditions be in place (for example, that funding is granted or that a particular software application be institutionally available and supported). List them to ensure that these criteria can be met. In addition, it may be helpful to include any limitations that may prevent completion of the project.
Project Team & Stakeholders
Stakeholders, in addition to project team members, will frequently be invested in the success of the project. List all team members and stakeholders, taking care to detail their roles and responsibilities.
Funding & Budget Information
Document all funding and resources, as well as anticipated expenditures, including equipment, technologies, programs, web hosting, data storage, expertise, and personnel wages.
- Remember to consider not only immediate cost of completing your project, but also ongoing or recurring costs, such as the cost of maintaining or preserving the final product.
- Don’t forget to consider funding and resources external to the ECDS!
Build out a detailed timeline, including milestones and deadlines. Note any potential bottlenecks or dependencies. In other words, attend the to relationships among individual parts of the project to avoid unnecessary delays.
- Remember that few, if any, team members will be committing 100% of their time to this project. Take into account team members’ other time commitments.
A few other items might be worth writing into a project charter:
- publishing rights and credit
- citations/attributions of the final product
- communication practices
- grievance or conflict management procedures
- documentation protocols
- preservation and stewardship
Because the charter is an agreement among all parties, each individual or group contributing resources should sign it and retain an up-to-date copy for the duration of the project.