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Development of a Project Charter

Ideally, the project charter is the first step in project management. The project charter is a statement of the scope, objectives, and participants (among other categories) in a project, and is highly vital in ensuring that everyone involved in the project (from the participants to the stakeholders) are aware of the project's purpose and objectives.

  • What must be done and why do it?
  • What are the required resources and the constraints?
  • What are the short and long term implications?
  • When and where must it be done?
  • Who is doing what to peform the work of the project?
  • Who is behind the project? Funding it?

Many projects in a public health or healthcare setting can be multifaceted and quite complex. In order to highlight the use of a project charter more readily, we will use a more simple case involving planning an event.


Planning a Surprise Birthday Party

Think about a friend, a colleague, a family member that has a birthday fast approaching. Got someone? Great! You will now be throwing them a surprise birthday party! You decided you want to get this right and that you need to complete a project charter.

Using a sample project charter, complete the project charter to help plan the surprise birthday party. The Project Charter will help you visualize how the project looks...

The image below is an interactive diagram of a project charter. Select the different sections shown below to learn more about important considerations when developing a project charter.

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Section 1 - General Information

These are the project’s “vital statistics” and the title should be specific enough that others outside the project can understand exactly what the project will address, where, and for what population. Thus, “A program to reduce sugar consumption” is quite broad and should be avoided; instead a title such as “An educational intervention to make second-graders at the Mather school more informed about beverage choices and the benefits of water and other non-sweetened beverages” is much more specific.

Section 2 - Budget

This section should state the total project budget, and the budget sources (e.g. participant fees, grants, insurance reimbursements, other).

Section 3 - Project Objectives

Project objectives should be as specific as possible. In the case of a surprise birthday party, they might be:

  1. to successfully surprise the guest of honor;
  2. to create a party at which guests have fun;
  3. to create a novel keepsake of the event for the guest of honor;
  4. to make the guest of honor realize how many friends she has.

** In projects such as one focused on quality improvement, the objectives might be:

  1. to understand the current status of the program;
  2. to identify the current inefficiencies in the program and conduct a root cause analysis;
  3. to develop recommendations and pilot testing.

Section 4 - Success Criteria

In this section, it is critical to identify how the project’s success will be assessed.

Section 5 - Roles and Responsibilities

This section should outline at a high level who is to be involved in the project, and what each party will be responsible for doing/providing.

**A tool frequently used is Responsibility Assignment Matrix.

Section 6 - Comments

Include here any additional information that is explanatory for the categories above. Examples include risks, mitigation strategies, and assumptions.