If and when the business case is accepted the next important step in the initiating process group is for the project sponsor to develop a project charter. The project sponsor is the one who initially starts and funds the project. A project charter is a high level document that formalizes the existence of the project, identifies the purpose of the project, its business value to the organization, and the authority for the project manager to allocate resources to perform the work.

The project sponsor may develop the project charter if he has the knowledge to do so. If not, this work can be outsourced to professionals. When the project sponsor develops the charter internally he will begin to seek a project manager whether it is internal or external to manage the realization of the project.

If the project manager is selected within the organization most likely he will provide input to the project charter. In some cases he will be responsible to finalize the content of the charter. In this situation, the project manager will know exactly what needs to be delivered, the risks, its schedule and budget. This is a good position to be in once the charter is signed-off.

A best practice for this scenario is to ensure that you as the project manager communicate with various stakeholders asking them to provide feedback on the project charter. A reminder that most likely you will need their resources to work on activities thus they need to be informed.

If the project manager is selected externally through a procurement process (professional services) often the project charter will be signed-off. In this case the project manager is faced to deliver what has already been agreed upon without his feedback and approval. Not so good of a position to be in.

A best practice for the project manager is to ask to see the project charter and go through its content such as the risks, schedule, budget and approvals before accepting the contract. The last thing you want to do as a project manager is to enter into a contract to deliver a project that the schedule is unrealistic or the budget is insufficient. You would be set up for project failure from the outset. Ask to meet with the project sponsor if you can to see if some things could be negotiated in the charter. If not, then follow your instinct.

There is a saying “You are as good as the last project you delivered”.

“More on the stakeholder topic will be covered in my next blog”. Stay tuned!!