What is a Project Scope and Charter?

By  //  June 19, 2022

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Efficient project management requires documenting everything you will do. It ensures your project gets steered in the right direction. You also need to document everything that has been done. Both project charter and scope should be made at the initial stage of a project.

With a well-defined scope, the project charter gives the team a detailed overview of all aspects of the project. It’s also a tool to make sure everyone on the team is aligned and working towards a common goal.

Both the documents are necessary for implementing a project. But some differences lie between the two documents. Dig deeper to understand the two documents and figure out their differences.

Project Charter

A project charter authorizes a project manager to use specific resources for completing a project. The charter also assigns a project sponsor. The project sponsor and the project manager will support the project during all the phases.

The project charter should include a problem statement and specify project goals. It should explain why organizations should undertake a particular project. It also identifies all stakeholders, risks, limitations, and benefits. The project charter should also include the budget and timeline. 

Elements of a Project Charter

No specific rules exist regarding what should be included within a project charter. The format of a project charter differs across organizations. However, the typical components of a project charter are as follows:

■ Project Name: it specifies the project’s name so it can be differentiated from others.

■ Project Description: It outlines a brief description of the project.

■ Project Scope: The high-level scope of the project is also mentioned.

■ Project Stakeholders: It outlines the known stakeholders of the project.

■ Business Case: It revolves around mentioning the significance of the project.

■ Value Proposition: It mentions the objectives of the project.

■ Project Timeline: It mentions when the project will start and end.

■ Project Deliverable: It throws light on the outcome of the project.

■ Project Constraints: It focuses on the different issues or constraints faced during the project.

■ Assumptions: It revolves around the assumptions made for the project during the initiation phase.

How Can a Project Charter Help

■ Any project, despite its time and work, needs a project charter. The project charter also highlights the steps to turn your project vision into reality. You also need careful planning at each step throughout the entire process. 

■ A project charter identifies the existence of your project. It also helps allocate resources to a project. The calculated distribution of assets keeps disagreements among stakeholders at bay. 

■ The project charter also improves the decision-making process within an organization. As a result, your project aligns with your company goals. 

■ A project charter also helps identify risks and drawbacks in advance. It ensures that you can create a plan and avoid deadly mistakes.

■ The project charter can also provide referrals to the team members later. It can remind stakeholders about the primary objectives of the project. It can also be referred to while working on new projects.

■ The document makes it easier to plan things financially. It becomes easier to estimate the expenses of a project.

■ The project charter is effective for risk mitigation. It ensures that you can make informed decisions on behalf of your organization. 

Project Scope

A major reason behind projects failing is a lack of clear scope. The project scope should be mentioned for every project regardless of its magnitude. It ensures that the stakeholders make no assumptions. 

The project scope can be defined as the boundary of a project. The project team should deliver according to the agreed project scope. It lays the foundation for deciding the timeline and budget for the project. The project scope states all the required work and ensures that the work leads to the successful completion of the project. 

Every project manager should document the scope and seek approval on it from all stakeholders. Project scope often changes over time due to changing client requirements or altered business scenarios. But a change request should support any change in the project scope. 

Remember that a change in the project scope impacts time, quality, risk, communication, and human resource. The change gets implemented only when the request receives approval from the change control board. The person demanding the change needs to make the request.

Elements of the Project Scope

The project scope outlines every parameter in the project. It is prepared while working on the charter and other initiation documents. First, a preliminary scope is prepared to specify the goals. The preliminary scope document is presented to the team leads responsible for appointing members to the project team. 

Suppose you are working on a scope document for a construction project. The document will describe the structure that needs to be built. It will specify the number of rooms, entrances, and even the square footage. But the project scope does not specify how every task will be performed and completed. 

The scope document should include the following elements:

■ Description of what the scope is and what isn’t included within it

■ Performance requirements for the company to accept project deliverables

■ List and descriptions of all outcomes

■ List of constraints and limitations like time, money, and other resources

■ Assumptions related to the project

How can a Project Scope document help?

The scope documents enable the stakeholders to determine whether a project is finished. The scope document becomes useful throughout the project. The project team finds it easier to track whether they abide by the schedule. 

For instance, the scope might have stated that the software suite should include three applications. But if you completed two, you didn’t fulfill the scope. However, you might have completed only two applications due to a change in the business scenario. In that case, there’s a chance to alter the project scope.

Closing note

Once you identify the scope, it becomes easier to control the project. The project charter ensures that all stakeholders remain informed about their responsibilities. Every project manager should create a charter and scope document before initializing the project. 

Also, remember to seek approval on the project charter from all stakeholders. A professional project management course will teach you everything about drafting the two documents carefully.