Don’t skip the charter, it may save your project

Categories Development, Working smart

“If you don’t’ have a clear definition of your destination when you set sail, any port will do.”

Sailing away

Photo by alitheg

Have you noticed that after a while, most of the people working on a project forget why they are doing it?

I mean, excluding the fact that it’s their job, pretty soon you can see that besides what is being pushed towards them, they don’t have a fixed set of objectives. They are pushing on blindly.

Or sometimes, the current team has nothing to do with the original team that started the project so they just don’t have a clear vision guiding their work.

And isn’t it sad that the one thing that can perpetuate this knowledge and that can guide the team throughout the project is often skipped because it seems too complex?

This thing that I’m talking about is the Project Charter.
Call it what you may or even don’t give it a name… write it in your wiki then forget about it for a year or two… but please don’t even think about skipping it!

I will not go into details as there is enough information available on the topic online. What I’ll do is give you a minimal structure that goes like this:

  • Vision – is the why of the project, it’s reason for existence
  • Objectives (Mission) – the what of the project, letting you know what must be done
  • Success Criteria – gives you ways to measure the project’s output
  • Tip:
    Success Criteria is very important… it lets you know when you’re done.

    More information:
    http://michaellant.com/2010/05/18/how-to-make-your-project-not-suck/
    http://www.infoq.com/news/2010/05/agile-project-charter

    Oh, BTW, if you are not running an agile shop and think that it’s a good excuse not to have a project charter… you are wrong.

    Now, if you don’t have one… go write it. I may save your project!

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