Skip to main content Skip to footer
Project management

A Project Charter guide to maximize productivity 9 min read
Get Started

Sometimes when you’re planning or managing projects, you can get caught up in the final result as opposed to establishing up-front processes to ensure everything is in place to work on the project. A project charter is often a forgotten part of project management, as they get lost among other assets like the project timeline, statements of work, Gantt charts, and even the project management software used.

In this article, you’ll learn what a project charter is and how a good project charter can help keep your projects on track and boost overall productivity. We’ll also share some project charter examples from so you’ll know the best way to craft your own.

What is a project charter?

A project charter is a formal document that authorizes a project from start to finish. It includes details to create an overall understanding of a project’s development and objectives while also outlining the roles and responsibilities of each involved individual.

Project charters help ensure that everyone involved has a clear idea of the project scope, objectives, and measures of success right from the get-go.

A project charter is essentially a very high-level first crack at your project plan. It’s where you capture all the essential details before you get going full throttle into detailed project planning.

Who writes the project charter?

In many business cases, you would assume the project manager should write the project charter right? Actually, it’s best if the project sponsor writes the project charter. A project sponsor is the individual who requested the project and who signed it off. In other words, the project initiator. Project sponsors are generally in senior management and may even be the CEO.

The sponsor is the best person to write the project charter document before passing it on to the project manager and the project team since they are often the ones who had the initial discussions with the client or other stakeholders about the purpose, objectives, and constraints of the project.

What are the benefits of using a project charter?

Well-organized and clearly defined projects tend to be more successful since they run less of a risk of going off-track and descending into chaos. A project charter provides a solid reference point to kick off your project — and it will help you keep a laser focus on your project’s objectives and keep things moving in the right direction. Let’s explore a few more project management benefits you can gain from using a project charter.


Here are the three top benefits of using a project charter:

1. Save time

Young companies deliver projects on time less than 40% of the time, and 21% of projects fail altogether. Given these stats, it’s clear that time management is a huge issue for the majority of younger companies. Taking time to document a project’s parameters and objectives at the start will save you time — and headaches — down the road since it helps remove a lot of ambiguity.

screenshot of 2020 project management business statistics

(Image Source)

2. Clarify your budget

When you set clear budgets, you’ll make it much easier for your team members to follow them and avoid overspending. Using even a sample project charter from a previous or similar project will help you establish your project’s overall budget and how to release funding when you need to before beginning the project. Make sure to include who has the authority to make spending-related decisions before people jump into ordering materials or doing work.

3. Reassure team members

When elements of the project go undefined, team members will constantly find themselves without direction, unsure of which tasks to do, or wasting their hard work on the wrong items. Many project charters are set up to organize direction and objectives in a visual and exciting way, giving team members a single source of truth to rely on and make rational decisions.

Another key part of any project charter is listing high-level metrics, timelines, and requirements for the project. Setting key metrics and constraints for each part of the project provides valuable guidance for team members as they begin to get to work. When people have a clear idea of what needs to be achieved when and know the overall outcome they’re working toward, they’ll work much more effectively.

What’s included in a project charter?

Your project charter should answer all the big questions that team members and stakeholders may have about the project.

screenshot of project charter categories

A project charter should include:

  • Project name: Make your project name as specific as possible. Avoid vague names like ‘application development’ or titles that could apply to a dozen different projects you’ve worked on. Pro tip: using a standard format like “Client Name – Main Deliverable – Year” will help separate  projects and make them easier to search for later — assuming you’re using a handy project management platform like
  • Purpose and goals: Think about what problems you’re trying to solve with this project and how you will measure the project’s success.
  • Budget: Outline the overall budget numbers, who is responsible for managing it, and any other important details, such as when payments will be made or if there’s a huge expenditure you’ll need to account for.
  • Deliverables: List which services, products, or results should be delivered to conclude the project and consider it a success.
  • Scope: Define the overall scope of the project. What’s included and what is definitely not included? Any add-ons that will only be included at an extra cost should be spelled out here.
  • Risks: Any risks you’ve already identified should be recorded now. This will become the starting point of your risk management plan when you get to the planning stage.
  • Roles and responsibilities: Include the names of the essential players, such as the project manager, sponsor, client, and other critical stakeholders. You can also write down the roles you know you’ll need (i.e. designer, tester, etc.) even if you don’t know which people will be filling them yet.
  • Timeline and milestones: There’s no detailed project schedule yet, but you may have already agreed to a final delivery date and other major milestones or deliveries. If you’re using an Agile framework this is where you’d note down sprint length and the estimated number of sprints you’ll need.

If there are any main assumptions about the project that could impact its success, these should also be included in the charter. With all of this useful information, using a project charter example or template can be key to organizing it all in a meaningful way.

Project charter examples

Although project charters act like a written authorization for projects, changes along the way are common, so it’s important to use adaptable templates. If you’ve used a project charter before, you might be familiar with the traditional PDF or Word doc that sets out the parameters of the project. While the formatting might be slightly different, they all tend to look pretty much the same.

It’s a formal doc and can sometimes seem quite limited in scope and flexibility. If you’re not familiar with it, take a look at this traditional project charter example here:

screenshot of PDF project charter example

(Image Source)

There’s nothing wrong with the above project charter example. However, using a more visually pleasing project charter that is intuitive and user-friendly, and is easier to share could make a big difference in how — and if — your team uses it.

Take a look at this project charter example:

screenshot of project charter example


Each section of the charter has a different color and includes handy information like the status, action type, description, costs, and the target date. At a quick glance, you can easily see multiple components of the project and easily edit each section should you need to do so. On Work OS, your project charters have much more potential than a static document — let’s see how.

Using for project charters

While every project has its own set of unique needs, you’ll probably find it easiest to build an effective project charter using customizable pre-built templates. An advantage of is that you can choose a template from our Template Center — like the Project Planning Template — or you can build it from scratch on monday workdocs.

Whether you’re new to project charters or a project management pro, we recommend you use one of our and personalize it according to your project’s unique needs.

Our project charter templates make it easy to delegate responsibilities, outline costs, add in statuses, and approve budgets.

Best of all, it’s easy to read and share so your stakeholders will love it. While there are a few fundamental components of each project that shouldn’t change — the objectives and goals are some of those things, it’s important to allow for a degree of flexibility in your project charter. For instance, you may need to shift deadlines or change which team members are working on certain sections. There may even be a change to key stakeholders.

Building a customizable project charter makes it easy to modify components of the project in real-time as you go along. With so many unexpected challenges and different issues along the way, it can be easy for projects to go off course. When team members have to fix multiple problems, it becomes easier to forget about why you’re doing the project in the first place and what the ultimate goals are.

A project charter should give your project the structure you need to keep it on the right path.

screenshot of project charter example template

Project charters made simple

While project charters are often overlooked by project managers, they can add structure and process-based thinking to your business’s projects. As we know, well-organized and properly implemented project management processes give your project the best chance of success.

Harnessing the right tools and processes can help you streamline the ground work and ultimately enjoy more project success.

Create your own project charter, or try out all of’s customizable project management templates — there are 200+ and counting.

Don’t miss more quality content!

Get started