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A big part of project management is guiding decision-making. Even if you’re not the one making final decisions on major aspects of the project, it’s still your job to keep track of every new decision and use those decisions to create a plan. 

Clear and consistent documentation can ensure transparency and clear communication. Documentation helps set the stage for the project. It communicates the answers to key questions. 

  • What problem are you trying to solve? 
  • What are the project goals?
  • What are the scope and deliverables, and who are the project’s stakeholders? 
  • What resources does the team need to complete their work?

Documentation also helps preserve decisions made early on in the project and can serve as a reference point for team members who might join later in the project life cycle. 

  • Ensure that this information is easily accessible through some kind of formal documentation, like an e-mail, a presentation, or a digital document. Also, documenting decisions can help you uncover tasks, timelines, or costs you hadn’t previously considered. 
  • This process provides a historical record that can be reviewed at the end of your project. You can apply the lessons you’ve learned in the future. 

Project Proposal

A project proposal is a form of documentation that comes at the very beginning of the project. This document’s purpose is to persuade stakeholders that a project should begin. And typically, a senior organizational leader creates the proposal. 

  • The project proposal is a great starting point to help you understand the desired goals and impact. A proposal may be a formal document, a presentation, or even a simple email to get others on board with the idea. 

Project charter

The project charter is a formal document that clearly defines the project and outlines the necessary details to reach its goals. A project charter helps you get organized, set up a framework for what needs to be done, and communicate those details to others.

  • The project charter makes clear that the benefits of the project outweigh the costs. 
  • The charter also helps ensure that you and your stakeholders agree on the details of the project. Project charter approval means that management is supportive, and it’s also a key step to ensure that the project matches the needs of the organization. 
  • The information in a charter might also be tailored to its audience or the needs of specific stakeholders. 
  • For example, if you’re writing a project charter for a stakeholder who is a marketing executive, the charter might include information about how the project will impact the organization’s brand. Or if the stakeholder is a chief technology officer, the charter might include information on the cost of engineering resources needed to maintain the project. Regardless of the format or the audience, creating a project charter is a best practice for ensuring that everyone agrees on how to move forward before entering the planning phase. 
  • The project charter is a living document. This means that it can evolve as the project progresses. 
  • The charter is the formal way that the project’s goals, values, benefits, and details are captured. You can think of the charter as the compass for your project since you will use it throughout the life cycle of the project. 
  • Developing the project charter in collaboration with both groups can help you make sure that your project charter addresses your key stakeholders’ most important concerns and keeps your team aligned. Be sure to use the business case—the reason for initiating the project—as the guiding direction to your project charter.
  • Project charters will vary but usually include some combination of the following key information:
    • Introduction/project summary
    • Goals/objectives 
    • Business case/benefits and costs
    • Project team
    • Scope
    • Success criteria
    • Major requirements or key deliverables
    • Budget
    • Schedule/timeline or milestones
    • Constraints and assumptions
    • Risks
    • OKRs
    • Approvals
  • It is a living document; let it grow with your project, and review and revisit it often to ensure you are aligned.

Difference Between Project Proposal and Project Charter

  • A project proposal is created earlier in the project life cycle than the project charter. The proposal kicks off the initiation phase by influencing and persuading the company to move forward with the project. 
  • The project charter serves a similar purpose and often comes at the end of the initiation phase. However, its goal is to more clearly define the key details of the project. 
  •  A charter will often serve as a point of reference throughout the life of a project. The proposal is only used at the earlier stages. 

Cost Benefit Analysis

Include the answers to these questions in your charter:

  • What value will this project create?
  • How much money could this project save my organization? 
  • How much time will people have to spend on this project? 

benefits should always outweigh the costs.

Create a project charter

  • Write an executive summary
      • Under Executive Summary, write 1-3 sentences outlining the project’s purpose and desired outcomes.
  • Fill in the project goal
      • Record the main project goal. This goal should be more detailed and specific than your executive summary. Use the information to make the goal SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound).
  • Identify the project deliverables
      • Record three expected outcomes of the project. Remember, these deliverables can be tangible or intangible project results.
  • Determine the business case for the project
      • Explain the reason for the project and how it supports the company’s overall success. Making a business case also gives your team the necessary context for project tasks, so be sure to include any useful background information as well. 
  • Fill in the benefits and cost areas
      • For benefits, describe what the company hopes to get out of the project. This can include direct financial benefits (e.g., sales revenue), as well as indirect benefits (e.g., increased customer trust). Remember that the benefits should support your business case.
      • For costs, think about how the completing project could impact the company. Consider time and resources in addition to any financial impact. 
  • Define the project scope
  • The members of your project team.
  • Determine how to measure success
    • List two examples of success criteria that can help you determine when the project has reached its goal.
Mohammad Rahighi

Mohammad Rahighi

Designer and Project Manager who loves crafting big ideas and is passionate about designing meaningful experiences that can influence positive change and help make the world a better place.

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