Preparing Project Charters

I come from a consulting background where you were paid proportionately to the volume of paperwork that you produced.  Half joking aside, I have produced Project Charters that were well over 30 pages in length.  This begs the question, who truly reads them and what value does it bring to the project, team members, project sponsor and the steering committee? 

When I was the PMO Director of a Fortune 500 company, I created a template for Project Charters that would produce a 2 page document (3 pages if there were a lot of signatures).  The concept was that the document truly had to mean something to all of the people involved.  It had to lay bare the scope of the project . . .

So here is the process:

After assembling the team (and preferably the project sponsor) I would attach my computer to the projector so that all could see.  I would start up my Mind Mapping software (more on that later).   

It came down to a filling out a 6 step process template in order to create the Project Charter:


Project Charter Template

Project Charter Template


  • Step 1: Project Name
    • Process
    • Code Name
  • Step 2: Overall Understanding of the project

Instead of one overall Charter and individual Charters per phase, put all into one.

  • Define Phases
  • Define stages within Phases
  • Sub-projects
    • Define
    • Assign Leaders
    • May need separate Charter
    • Time Targets
    • Org Changes
    • Process Changes
    • Software tool
      • Define all Systems
      • Define all Vendors
    • Project Admin
    • Communication
      • Marketing of Project
    • Metrics
    • Rollout
      • By System
      • By Geography
  • Step 3: Objectives
    • Answer the WHY?
      • Understand Why the Company is doing the Project
    • Metrics
      • Measure

Measurability is a characteristic of the Objectives

  • Delta may need to be determined
  • Standardization
    • Ease of Use
    • Speed
    • Cost Reduction
      • Overhead reduction
    • Process
      • Refine answers
      • Increase productivity of operations
  • Step 4: Scope
    • Answer the WHAT?
      • Deliverables

Tie Scope to Deliverables

  • Step 5: Assumptions, Concerns and Constraints
    • Assumptions
    • Concerns
    • Constraints
  • Step 6: Stakeholders
    • Include people for political purposes
    • Program vs Project (or sub-project)
    • Customers
      • BU Manager
      • Division Presidents
    • Sponsors
      • Director
      • IT Working Council
    • Project Manager

Program Leaders

  • Could be Project Leader

May not do the Admin part

  • Project Analysts

To do the Admin part

  • Team Members
    • Own the task

 The process at first may seem hard to follow for some of the team members, but after a while, they get it and they are enthusiastic to participate.  The mind mapping software that I use is Mindjet Mindmanager .  I will provide future articles of my use of mind mapping in project management.

I take the results of what is created and produce a 2 – 3 page document.  We all agree to the Charter, because we all had a hand in its creation.  The process takes between 1 – 3 hours depending on the participative mood of the team and the level of depth of the project scope.  Then while everyone is in the room, I get all the team members signature as well as that of the project sponsor.

I would like to add the Mindmanager file *.mmap file but WordPress does not recognize this as a file for upload.  If anyone knows how I can do so, please comment on this site.   Thank you, Greg Cimmarrusti, PMP



Filed under PM Tips and Tricks, PM Tools, Project Management

14 responses to “Preparing Project Charters

  1. teresatayag

    Thanks for sharing this. I am an avid mindmapper and I truly know the value in using this tool. Do you think you’ll mind sharing the map file?

  2. A good project management mind map, Greg. I’d also like to be able to get a copy of it when you’re able to upload it.

  3. Lisa Sieverts

    Usually “add media file” works. It’s one of the tiny icons in the “attach file” area of your “write post” screen.

  4. Hi Greg,

    Firstly, thanks for the great template.

    Regardsing the file upload, it is a set limit in and there is no workaround.

    Simplest solution is to rename the file to .doc or .pdf, upload it and then have people rename it to .mmap on their computers.

    Alternatively, you can upload it to one of the many free file upload sites (e.g. or and link to it.

    Finally, you are welcome to mail me the file and I will host it for you somewhere.

    Kind regards,

    Jonathan Davis


    I have been using Mind Mapping for years and has allowed me to amazingly simplify the managing of projects…

    I developed a methodology for the IDB (International Development Bank) based on MM and PMBOK.

    Results have been amazing.

    Although, some colleagues just do not like the oversimplification…they care more about the “management” than about the “project”

    • Efrain, it is so true that some colleagues care more about the management than the project. And what is the true end result . . . a successful project. And if you can use tools like mind mapping to communicate with the team members in a more simplistic way, then by all means do so. Thank you for the comment.

  6. Hi Greg, Thanks for sharing this it is a great tool to help teams focus on why they are running the project and I’m thrilled to see communications high up. It is amazing how many people forget to communicate until the project hits problems.

    Regards, Jo Ann Sweeney

  7. Bart Dielissen

    Greg, I really like your mindmap and are recreating a personal version to use.

    I used to work with mindmanager as well, but recently start using xmind (freeware version). Just give it a go

    Keep up the good work!



  8. Pingback: Projects with People » Blog Archive » Using Mindmap to build a Charter

  9. Nice articles Greg!
    I look forward to return visits here.

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