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22 Elements of a Project Charter

 , updated on September 10, 2022
A project charter is a document that defines a project. It provides all the information that is require to initiate a project. This is an important source document that all other project documents typically reference. Project charters define why a project exists, what it will achieve, how it will be conducted and evaluated, who will do what, when it will be deliver and how much it will cost. The following are common elements of a project charter that can be used as a table of contents.


Providing context in a few sentences that completely describe the project.

Problem Statement

Overview of opportunities or problems that are driving the project.


A mission statement associated with the project.


What the future looks like when the project is delivered.


Specifically, what the project aims to achieve.

Key Success Factors

How the project will be evaluated.


The facts and interpretations on which the project is based.


An outline of initial dependencies. In many cases, dependencies are covered as assumptions.


Limitations and restrictions such as resources and time.


A list of relevant decisions that have been made to date. Can be included as assumptions.

Alternatives Considered

Document alternatives to decisions that were considered with a rationale for choices. This helps the future to understand the context of the project as it answers questions such as "why didn't they ..."


An initial list of identified risks. Project risk management is an ongoing activity that can begin with the project charter.


What is known about the scope at the time the project charter is delivered. This typically changes with requirements.


Explicitly state things that will not be delivered by the project to prevent unjustified assumptions.


A budget outline.


A list of stakeholders and a an org chart for the project team.

Roles & Responsibilities

A list of stakeholders mapped to roles with each stakeholder either responsible, accountable, consulted or informed.

Facilities and Resources

Facilities and resources required by the project.

Standards & Methodologies

A mention of project management methodologies and standards that apply to the project.


Governance structures and principles.


An outline of milestones such as phases, stages, deliverables and decision gates.


A description of deliverables.


Preliminary estimates if available. Include a disclaimer that estimates are likely to change upon further analysis and scope changes.


Definition of any non-standard terminology used by the project.
Overview: Project Charter
TypeProject Management
Definition (1)A document that defines a project.
Definition (2)A terms of reference for a project.
ValueThe foundational source document for a project.
Notes It should be noted that projects typically change significantly over time with emerging goals, approaches and requirements that end up differing significantly from a project charter. As such, a project charter captures what is known about a project at the start.
Related ConceptsTerms Of Reference
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Project Management

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Acceptance Criteria
Acceptance Testing
Basis Of Estimate
Behavioral Requirements
Change Control Board
Change Fatigue
Change Request
Concept Note
Cone Of Uncertainty
Corrective Action
Cost Baseline
Cost Contingency
Cost Control
Cost Overrun
Cost Variance
Defect Density
Document Control
Earned Value
Estimate At Completion
Estimate To Complete
Feasibility Analysis
Fudge Factor
Full-Time Equivalent
Human Factors
Issue Management
Lead Time
Lessons Learned
Level Of Effort
Opportunity Study
Out Of Scope
Parametric Estimate
Phased Implementation
Program Management
Project Charter
Project Communication
Project Complexity
Project Concept
Project Controls
Project Failure
Project Goals
Project Management
Project Metrics
Project Planning
Project Productivity
Project Proposal
Project Risk
Regression Testing
Requirements Quality
Return On Investment
Risk Register
Schedule Baseline
Schedule Chicken
Scope Baseline
Scope Creep
Set Up To Fail
Stakeholder Management
Statement Of Work
Story Points
Use Case
User Stories
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