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Is Your Project Charter Still Valid? November 2, 2008

Posted by Tariq Ahmed in Project Management.
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A Project Charter is a document that states the reasons for doing the project, objectives of the project (scope), and identifies the stakeholders.  I don’t want to discuss the details of a Project Charter, but rather the importance of making sure it is still valid as you work through a large project.  The bigger the project, the longer it will take and the more resources it will consume.  Time is your enemy in these cases, as time can cause drastic changes in the company, economy, management and competition, which can cause your project charter to become out of touch.  When this happens, the project runs the risk of being cancelled completely.

A sound Project will have an ROI analysis, which should have justified the project to start with.  This should include assumptions such as:

–    We have resources allocated for the project.
–    Other projects are not taking our resources.
–    Future projects aren’t threatening our resources.
–    Competition hasn’t pressured us in a different direction.
–    Top management still wants the project completed.
–    Management is comfortable and aware of the timelines.
–    The company’s financial situation hasn’t changed.
–    Economic conditions are stable.
–    The company is still in X business.
–    Our initial ROI analysis is still valid.
–    Etc.

These assumptions should be checked on a regular basis with the stakeholders, including top management.  Many stakeholders may be squeamish to bring this up, as the questions create doubt and may sound negative.  The PM and stakeholders may be so absorbed and emotionally attached to their “pet project”, that challenging the assumptions and ROI is treasonous and will get you executed or the very least shunned upon.

In order to combat this, as a PM or stakeholder, this Project Charter Revalidation process should be part of the project plan, per company policy so everyone is aware that these tough questions will be asked on a scheduled basis.

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