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  • Writer's pictureAlessandro Lasi

No Project Charter? Then you need to understand more about Living Animals and Dynos

Rushing straight to Actions Planning? Or, even worst, jumping onto Tasks Execution? Ok, admit it, you’ve never heard about Project Charters. And it’s neither about any templates consultants may "recommend" to adopt nor just writing a bunch of nice sentences on a Word Document and bury them under your project files pile… Start from the foundations!


Before you even start planning, you may need to discuss some high level items with your Project Sponsor:

  • What does your Project Customer want? (Business Case)

  • What needs to be changed in order to meet these needs? (Opportunity)

  • Which resources are available to deliver? (Time, Budget, Team, Systems, ..)

  • What is included? (even better: what is NOT included = Scope)

  • How are we going to Measure success? (Objectives and Deliverables)

By asking these simple questions you will be able to hammer out a first draft of your Project Charter, and get it signed by Project Sponsor and main Stakeholders.


Mmm…You got it! You may feel like Michelangelo, while carving one of his early masterpiece sculptures (or maybe, just to make it more realistic and hilarious, more similar to “The Naked Gun 2 ½” clay scene).

Reality is…carving a Project Charter is an iterative process, as it’s a living animal:

  • You will need to refine it as soon as more info gets available (this usually happens later in the Project: this means you need to review it multiple time: that’s why it is not a Dyno!)

  • You will need to update and discuss with your Core Team to get inputs = buy in!

  • You will need to adjust whenever a Project Change gets approved (of course you have a defined Project Change process…right?) Anyway…beware the Scope Creep risk!


Maybe it comes more evident by looking at the opposite: what happens if you don’t have one? This goes back to my early experiences with Transformational Projects…as a Project Manager you don’t want your Project to set to failure, but to be successful by design: for example:

  • Protect vs. Scope Creep (pre-agreement on requirements, resources, timeline,..)

While I was on the Rent a Car industry, I got a new Project Stakeholder popping up all of a sudden, 2 months down the line, advocating to double the scope size, same timeline and resources.

“Wait a moment: our Project Charter is what we had agreed by this timeline, these resources, these requirements. Let’s review this thru our Project Change process before confirming”

  • The project may not be seen or valued by the Company (wasted resources)

  • The requirements are not clear: project completed, but Customer not satisfied

  • Customer/Sponsor may add or change requirements that are not agreed to

  • Team & timeline are incomplete and usually require multiple changes at a later stage

“Every Project needs a Charter – If the Sponsor doesn’t provide it, create a Project Charter and get it approved to avoid Scope Creep”

BONUS NOTE: stay tuned, much more is to come regarding how to pick the right team, how to mitigate Project risks, and how to handle Project Stakeholders.
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