Looking for some excellent project charter templates?
Creating a good project charter is a super-important step to take before starting any project.
Because they lay the foundation for your entire project.
It’s like having a detailed map to guide you through an adventure!
But what should a great project charter template look like?
More importantly, what elements should it have?
In this article, we’ll cover what a project charter document is, and why it’s so important. We’ll also go over what elements your charter document must have and highlight some handy charter templates.
Plus, we’ll let you in on a secret that can help you craft the perfect project charter.
This Article Contains:
(Click on the links below to jump to a particular section)
- What is a project charter?
- Why is the project charter so important?
- 10 important elements that every project charter should have
- How do you write an excellent project charter?
- Top 7 project charter templates
- How to easily create your own project charter template with ClickUp
Let’s get started!
What is a Project Charter?
Note: This section is for those who aren’t sure about what project charters are and how they work. If you’re already familiar with them, click here to directly jump to the templates.
The project charter is a formal document that gives you a high-level overview of the entire project. Created before working on a project, it clearly defines the project scope along with other useful project details.
However, it isn’t just another boring formal document!
It serves an important purpose during the project planning phase.
Not only does it make the project scope clear, but it also clears up other project information like:
- The reason why the team will be working on the project
- The success criteria for the project (conditions that need to be met)
- The critical success factors of the project
- The authority, roles, and responsibilities of the project manager
- The budget of the project
But these aren’t the only reasons why your team needs a project charter document.
Why is the Project Charter so Important?
Not having a project charter for a project, is like getting lost in the wilderness without a map to guide you through.
Unless you have a survival expert like Bear Grylls in your team, you’re going to have a tough time!
So why is it important?
Firstly, a project charter helps the project manager and the team:
- Build a structure for the project: pre-defines a framework for the project and also explains the reason for initiating the project (business case)
- Assess the project value: determines if a project idea is worth the effort or not
- Predict the outcome of the project: clearly defines the objective, project milestones, and deliverables
- Outline the constraints and challenges: anticipates what difficulties your team might face while working on the project so they can be well prepared to handle it
- Reduce scope creep: designates a clear project scope, so your team won’t have to worry about scope creep (which happens when the project deliverables increase uncontrollably during a project)
- Define the authority of the project manager: the project leader gets a clear focus on their roles and responsibilities
But that’s not all.
Here’s why any stakeholder or client appreciates a good project charter document:
- Expresses the importance of the project: the charter starts off with the business case focusing on the importance of the project and the problems it solves
- Creates a better understanding: a detailed overview of the project builds stakeholder’s trust by creating a shared understanding between the project team and stakeholders
- Gives a budget clarity: a clear predefined budget adds transparency to the project
So the charter is clearly important.
But how do you ensure that your charter document can cater to all these functions?
10 Important Elements Every Project Charter Template Needs
Remember how we said a project charter is like a map that helps guide you through an adventure?
Well, for you to really benefit from that map, it has to clearly define things for you. Using a torn-up, vague, barely-legible map isn’t going to do you much good.
Similarly, having a vague project charter isn’t going to work!
So what should every project charter document include?
Here are the elements you should look for:
1. The project goal
The project goal section explains why the project is important, what it’s aiming to solve, the project purpose, and its key objective. Use a business case or stakeholder requirements as a reference to build this section.
2. The project description
The description clearly defines the project’s scope, including details such as what’s in the scope and what’s outside it. It also highlights what specifically needs to be worked on and reduces the chances of scope creep.
3. Major requirements and deliverables:
The project requirements section describes the requirements of your clients or other external stakeholders. It also contains every key deliverable that meets the project’s objective.
4. The project budget
The budget field gives you a good estimate of the cost of running the whole project according to the type of project.
5. Project success criteria
The project success section clearly states the critical success factors (conditions) that the project needs to meet in order to be considered successful.
6. Project risks
The project risks section provides a detailed overview of the risks associated with the project to help you be well-prepared for them.
7. Project schedule and milestones
Here, you outline the general milestones your project would go through. It also estimates the potential deadlines you’d have to look out for.
8. Assumptions and constraints
This section lists out what project parameters are known (called constraints) and unknown (called assumptions) at the present moment.
9. Team roles
This section outlines who will be working on the project (human resource) along with their roles and responsibilities, like the project initiator, team leader, or development team member.
The project authorization section lets your client sign-off on the charter, letting you know that you can begin work on it.
How do You Write an Excellent Project Charter?
You now have a clear idea of what an excellent project charter should look like.
But how do you create one?
1. Do your research
Drafting a project management charter without doing thorough research about the project background can lead to awkward client-review meetings. After all, if you don’t know your stuff, you won’t know what to say when they ask for a detailed explanation.
While creating the charter document, identify important project details.
- The objective and solutions
- Critical success factors
- Resource requirements
- What challenges you could face
This way, when you present it to your key stakeholders or team, you can be confident about every section of your charter.
2. Be specific
Your project sponsor wouldn’t feel confident about investing in a vague project objective, like “New UI.”
Instead, you need to be super accurate!
For example, you can write a project objective like this:
“Our goal is to improve the user engagement of our homepage by adding some animation effects, HD images, and a live chat feature. This will create a better user experience and reduce the bounce rate.”
The result is…(drumroll)…happy customers and stakeholders!
3. Coordinate with stakeholders and team
You won’t be working alone on the project, right?
Even wildlife survivalists have a camera crew with them.
Involve your team and stakeholders while creating the charter and keep them in the loop about what’s going into the document. Anyone involved in the project should know what they’re committing to.
This will include coordinating with project sponsors, clients, project team members, and other key stakeholders.
4. Take notes
Your project team and stakeholders will have some feedback and suggestions over what to include in the team charter.
How do you keep track of their suggestions?
Unless you have super-human memory, it’s best to take notes.
But there’s no need to go old school and jot down notes on a piece of paper. That usually results in all your precious information getting lost pretty quickly.
Instead, it’s best to use a good digital note-taking solution.
5. Use a project charter template
You don’t want to build a charter from scratch every time you start a project, right?
It’s a huge waste of time and effort!
Fortunately, pre-built templates are a great shortcut to help you write a great project charter.
But when there are a lot of templates available, how do you choose the best one for you?
7 Excellent Project Charter Templates (FREE)
The easiest way for you to build your own project charter template is with ClickUp. Here’s how.
But if you want some inspiration, we’ve carefully handpicked the top seven charter templates that would suit any project manager.
After all, who likes to get a pile of documents dumped on them?
Here’s our curated selection:
1. CDC project charter template
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers a very detailed project charter template with instructions on how to use it.
While it doesn’t particularly look fancy, it has all the required fields to record every detail of your project. Its detailed approach suits long and complex projects with a lot of moving parts.
Click here to download this free project charter template.
2. NYU project charter template
This is a simple and visually pleasing project charter template from New York University’s management school. It’s a two-page short charter template suitable for simpler projects.
Click here to download this free project charter template.
3. Solarity project charter template
This is a broad-purpose charter template created by Solarity, a project management consultancy. Despite being quite elaborate, it’s simple enough to be understood by anyone, making it a perfect choice for most projects out there.
Click here to download this free project charter template.
4. GWU charter template
George Washington University offers a well-detailed, 13-page-long project charter template suitable for general projects. This might not be a pretty project charter, but its practicality makes up for it.
Click here to download this free project charter template.
5. Project charter by Project Management Docs
This team charter template is elaborate, covers every field required for the project plan, and is visually appealing. It also provides a short one-page version to keep things precise. Due to its flexibility, this charter is suitable for both complex and simple projects.
6. Project charter by Key Consulting
A one-page, concise project charter template by Key Consulting.
While this is a fairly detailed project charter, it’s easy to comprehend as you get a brief overview of the entire project. It suits small, simple projects very well due to its brevity.
Click here to visit their webpage to download it.
7. IT project charter by Stanford University
This is a long project charter example from Stanford University.
It’s an elaborate, visually pleasing charter, with a detailed budget table. While it’s best suited for IT projects, there’s no reason why other projects can’t benefit from it.
Click here to visit their official website to download it.
How to Easily Create Your Own Project Charter Template with ClickUp
Awesome, you’ve picked your favorite charter template!
But before you go out there and have fun with it, check this out…
Instead of manually working on project charters, what if there was a software to help you out instead?
It’s going to make the project management process a walk in the park, rather than a dredge through the Amazon rainforest, right?
Luckily, project management tools like ClickUp help you do just that. It can help you craft your project management charter from start to finish.
(Don’t worry, just like the charter templates, ClickUp is a free solution too.)
Wait, what’s ClickUp?
Used by 200,000+ teams in companies from startups to titans like Google, Webflow, Airbnb, and Uber, it can help you overcome any project management challenges.
Whether you need help with:
- Creating a project plan or resource management strategy
- Managing project risks
- Tracking project success
- Managing organizational resources or creating an organizational structure
- Mapping project boundaries, deliverables, and requirements
- Designing an effective communication plan to coordinate with your team
ClickUp has got you covered!
Here’s how ClickUp makes the project management process a breeze!
While you could use the templates we covered here to get started easily, what if you want to create your own project charter?
Don’t worry! ClickUp’s got you covered with its Docs feature.
With powerful collaboration features, Docs lets you invite your team to work alongside you while creating the charter. Additionally, store each file safely right inside your project workspace and access it quickly whenever you need to.
But that’s not all!
You can also:
- Embed URLs and customize their appearance
- Add and nest pages within Docs for better organization
- Customize access rights to share files with your team or stakeholders
- Publicly share Docs with those outside your organization
- Download your Docs as Markdown, PDF, or HTML files
- Rich text-formatting
- Allow Google to index these docs and show up in the search results
The project goal is among the most important elements of the project charter.
However, implementing a goal throughout your project can be quite challenging.
Your team might get demotivated while tackling a huge project objective or even lose track of the goal and go off the trail.
Luckily, ClickUp can help you overcome these challenges with ease.
ClickUp Goals are high-level containers that can be split into smaller Targets, which are much easier to achieve. While this keeps everything organized, it also motivates your team by giving them a steady feeling of achievement.
Additionally, with every completed Target, ClickUp automatically updates your project team’s progress percentage in real-time. This way, everyone has a clear picture of how close they are to reaching the goal.
But that’s not all…
With ClickUp’s Goals, you can also:
- Quantify your Goals with OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)
- Create weekly scorecards for better performance appraisal
- Track Scrum sprints or any type of project in real-time
Whether it’s a project team or a group of adventurers, there’s one thing every team has in common: effective communication.
But how do you ensure that in project management?
By using comments.
Wait… how do comments help in team collaboration?
With ClickUp’s Comments, you can do a lot more than just notifying a team member.
You’ll also need to access those important conversations later in case of any confusion or disputes later in the project.
How will you do that?
Don’t worry. ClickUp saves all your comments, mentions, file attachments, and external links. Access them instantly in just a couple of clicks!
However, ClickUp offers you more than just Comments for quick collaboration.
ClickUp’s Chat view gives you a full view of all the conversations you had with your team.
Create a dedicated chat thread and have project relevant discussion.
And here’s the best part for developers: you can even share code with your team members using code-text formatting.
Remember, it’s important to collaborate with your stakeholders.
After all, your project sponsor is the one funding your project, so it’s essential to offer them transparency.
Naturally, you’ll have to share most of your project documents with them, including your project charter.
However, if you have multiple stakeholders, you don’t want to give edit rights to each and every project stakeholder. Things could go wrong pretty quickly.
Someone can accidentally edit out crucial project information or delete an important doc file.
But you still need to keep everyone in the loop.
So what do you do?
Luckily, ClickUp has a solution for you to maintain the balance: Custom Access Rights.
This feature lets you share important project files (like charters), folders, and even task lists with any project stakeholder or even someone outside of your team.
And here’s the kicker: you have complete control over what they can or can’t do inside ClickUp!
Just use ClickUp’s Permissions!
Here are some access rights you can set for your stakeholders:
- Can view: the project stakeholder can view project info and details but can’t interact with it
- Can comment: the stakeholder can add their comments on the docs
- Can edit: the stakeholder can edit tasks but can’t create new tasks or docs
- Create and edit: the stakeholder can create new tasks and subtasks
- Can delete: the stakeholder can delete any task that they did not create
Getting a good view of things is not just important while surviving in the wilderness, it’s super-important in project management too.
As a project leader, you need to make sure that everything is going according to the project plan from the charter.
With ClickUp’s Multiple Views, it becomes super easy to get overviews of your project and check what each and every team member is up to throughout the entire project lifecycle.
This way, it’s easy to quickly see if things are going south.
ClickUp offers you various views like:
- Gantt view: visualize project progress with ClickUp’s interactive, fun-to-use Gantt chart
- List view: great for teams who prefer viewing their project dashboard as a GTD-style to-do list
- Calendar view: plan and manage your project schedule across a calendar
- Box view: displays tasks sorted by assignee to know who is working on what quickly
- Me Mode: shows you the tasks that were only assigned to you
- Board view: visualize tasks Kanban-style on your ClickUp Dashboard
You thought that was it?
Nope, ClickUp has a forest’s worth of other features!
So here’s a preview of just some more features ClickUp has in store:
- Team Reporting: get detailed reports of your in-house or remote team’s productivity
- Dependencies: attempt your project tasks in the right order
- Dashboards: get high-level overviews of your Agile workspace using widgets like Gantt chart, Burndown Charts, and Burnup Charts
- Priorities: prioritize project tasks based on their urgency
- Custom Statuses: assign project relevant statuses for your tasks
- Pulse: know what tasks your team members are most active in during a period
- Automations: automate repetitive processes in your projects to save time and effort
- Mobile Apps: keep an eye on your projects on the go with ClickUp’s powerful Android and iOS apps
A good project charter is a must-have for your organization.
Not only does it officially start a project, but it also outlines the business need that your project fulfills.
However, just like surviving in the wild, creating and implementing a charter can be a challenge for any organization.
Which is where project charter templates come in.
But do they really help?
Yes, but they only take you halfway there.
As we mentioned, charter templates are like elaborate maps for your adventure. It helps, but it isn’t enough. You’ll still have to navigate through everything yourself.
However, having an excellent project management software like ClickUp is like having a handy survival expert by your side to help you every step of the way.
It offers a wide variety of project organization and management features to help you every step of the way.
Sign up with ClickUp and start your productivity journey with us today!
Holly is a Coaching Program Manager at ClickUp, where she helps demystify how to set up Workspaces for max productivity. When she’s not thinking through complicated use cases and set up ideas, you can find her playing her harp or tossing a ball to her dog, Dingdong.
Questions? Comments? We're here for you 24/7 at firstname.lastname@example.org!