Projects are the building blocks of all strategic outcomes. Most of the improvement work that is done in any organization is typically PROJECT work.  If you want to make a real impact in your organization, advance your career, or just get stuff done…. You need to be excellent at managing projects.   The best way to make sure your project gets off to a good start is with a great project charter. In this blog we will share how to build a winning project charter.

What is a project charter?

A project charter is a written document (paper or digital) that summarizes the critical information that should be used to evaluate a projects viability, progress, and eventual success.  A project charter should summarize why the project is necessary, what the target outcome of the project is, and how it will be achieved.

Who will define project success?

The two most important roles in defining project success are the Project Leader and the Project Sponsor.   The Project Sponsor is typically the executive in charge of the resources that are being used to execute the project. The Project Leader is the person responsible for leading the project. As a Project Leader it will be your responsibility to put into written word the success criteria of the project.  You may need to gather inputs from various stakeholders and team members but a critical step in project success is to have your project sponsor acknowledge and agree to the success criteria you identify.

If (and when) the success criteria change, the project leader should update the success criteria in the project charter and make sure all project team members are aware or approve of the change.

Why is a project charter important?

A well written project charter can serve as a way to bring various stakeholders up to speed on a project and can serve as a way to measure the projects success once completed.

What is included in a project charter?

Your project charter should serve the purpose of giving a quick summary of the project and to answer the following questions:

Why is this Project necessary?

Also known as the “Problem/Opportunity Statement“. This statement describes the problem that exists which this problem solves or the opportunity that exists which this project hopes to capture.

What do we want to achieve?

Your charter should have a Goal Statement or Target Outcome section.  This should be a statement that describes a future state that will guide the execution of the project.  If you’re ever unsure whether something is steering you in the right direction or taking you off track, your project charter helps you and your team to cut through the noise and reevaluate whether the work you’re doing aligns with your ultimate objectives.  It may be appropriate to keep the goal statement updated as the project evolves.

  • A weak goal statement: “We want this project to increase revenue.”
  • A better goal statement: “This project aims to deliver a new product to X market in Y time to increase our revenue by Z% within 2 years.”

What is IN Scope, and what is OUT of scope?

A good project charter will address specific items as “in scope” or out of scope.  The scope is the boundary that represents where one project might stop and a separate project may begin.


  • In Scope: This project will include developing the BB process for the AA site only.
  • Out of Scope:  Implementing the BB Process in additional regions will be considered a separate project.

Project Team

At the very least a project should have a Project Leader and a Project Sponsor.  Additional team members and stakeholders can be identified if they are known.  This section can and should be updated as a project evolves.

Beyond the Charter
What’s next?

Additional Items to include:

What makes a good project charter is very much a subjective question and the answer will be defined by your organizations culture, specifically “The way we do things around here”.

Tasks, Task Groups, Work Breakdown Structure

If you can summarize the tasks that need to be accomplished you can include a summary of it on your project charter. In some cases, a few notes about Project Scope may be enough to get the project started.

Project Benefits

If you are running a project designed to generate Cost Savings, or New Revenue, identifying that in the project charter can be useful.

Project Risks

You’ll discover more of these as you flesh out your project plan, but this is a good place to acknowledge any top-level risks that you already know about from the outset.

Key deliverables

What is it that you actually need to deliver as part of this project? 

High-level overview of resources, budget, and people power.

If there are already any pre-approved resources allocated to this project, make a note of them in your project charter so you know what you’re working with.

A top-level summary schedule.

You can delve into the nitty-gritty later, but it’s useful to outline a basic time frame for your project, as well as plot out any key milestones along the way.

Your charter isn’t to go deep on any of the above; you can do that in the project plan. Instead, your aim is to cover enough ground to align all key stakeholders and get everyone onto the same page about the purpose, scope, and breadth of the project, so they can embark on the project with confidence.

Additional Project Charter Resources

Setting up the Project Charter

Software Training: (Step by Step with Screenshots)
How to Create a Project Charter in KPI Fire

Managing Projects in KPI Fire (Video)
How to create a new project in KPI Fire, and tips for having a successful project outcome.