A project charter is an important tool in defining the exact scope of a project, and the resources it’s supposed to utilize during its run. While some managers see it as just another step to complete before commencing the “real” work on the project, the reality is that defining a good project charter is part of the true work itself, and it’s critical that you approach it with an educated mindset, knowing exactly what the project is going to require to complete.
There are some common mistakes that you should always be striving to avoid if you want to ensure that your project charters work well, and that will lay down the foundation of a successful project implementation every single time.
1. Misunderstanding the problem you’re trying to solve
It’s hard to go about defining a solution to a problem if you’re not clear about the essence of that problem in the first place. In many cases, leaders make incorrect assumptions about the issue they are trying to address, leading to the creation of a completely incorrect solution. This kind of problem is hard to identify too, because you are still developing a correct project charter, just based on wrong assumptions.
2. Poor overview of available resources
If you don’t know exactly what resources you have at your disposal, it can be difficult to put them to good use through your project charter. You must always maintain a proper list of your current resources, and update it when anything happens that affects the current state.
3. Underestimating the risks
A project charter is supposed to allow you to balance risks with the appropriate outcomes adequately, and it can be very useful when you want to take calculated risks. However, it will not protect you from mistakes stemming from an incorrect idea about the nature of the risks involved. If you do not calculate the situation correctly, you may still end up with unsatisfying results.
4. Insufficient detail
It’s important to keep your attention focused on the small details involved in the current project, while also maintaining good overview of the big picture. This kind of balance is difficult to attain in some cases, but as a good rule of thumb, you should address issues related to the smaller details with a priority. Take care of those, and the overall situation should adjust itself to a more favorable state without much intervention from your side.
5. Relying on data too much
You must have a good intuition about the way your projects are supposed to be driven, and you should not rely on data exclusively in your decision-making process. Sometimes, you must go against the flow and make decisions that might seem counterintuitive, but as long as you are basing those actions on past experience and other knowledge you’ve attained over time, you should know what you are doing.
6. Not involving everyone equally
An important part of project charters is to involve every member of the organization in an equal capacity, at least as much as the situation allows for that. Don’t just rely on the input of high-level management, and try to get the opinion of people on all levels of the ladder. You will often get some surprising insights from those who work more directly with the processes you are optimizing.
7. Not learning from previous mistakes
This is somewhat similar to point 5, but more directly related to your use of project charters. They are not a perfect tool, and sometimes using a project charter will not go as you expected. That’s fine, but it’s important to learn from those mistakes so they can be avoided in the future. As long as you ensure that this is in order, you will find yourself working more and more efficiently with each new project charter you have to develop.