Charter for Success

Winston Churchill famously quoted, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail.” This great advice was undoubtedly a paraphrase from the original quote by Benjamin Franklin, a father of modern time management techniques, who said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” With this in mind, you can’t diminish the importance of the first activity in the project lifecycle, a project charter.


Whether the project is large or small, the project charter provides justification for the authorization to engage corporate resources. It provides management a foundation for understanding the necessity, scope, costs and expectations for the project and is the primary tool to achieve corporate buy-in. With many competing projects management may elect to proceed on, a well-documented charter can often be the deciding factor.


As the writer of the project charter, you need a complete and thorough understanding from the project sponsor. He or she may be the subject matter expert but may lack the organizational skills required to develop a winning charter. You can help him succeed in gaining management approval by utilizing this proven approach to develop your charter.


Scope, Objectives and Success Criteria – identify what you want to accomplish, why you want to accomplish it and what success will look like to the organization.


Business Requirements – identify the high-level business requirements that will establish the expectations for the project deliverables.


Alternatives – identify the alternative approaches considered and why they were dismissed.


Key Assumptions and Constraints – seek to validate assumptions and expected constraints as often times these may be refuted.


Resources – identify persons or departments, the skill sets required and the expected time commitments required to meet the project objective.


Schedule – identify the project milestones with start, completion dates and durations.


Compliance or Regulatory Concerns – identify how the project may comply with or impact existing client compliance activities.


Cost Estimates – identify the costs of internal and external resources, as well as expected capital expenditures and over what time frame.


Benefits – identify both the financial and non-financial benefits. Be sure to include any estimates for annual cost reductions or avoidances based on the outcome of the project.


With these key factors determined, don’t forget about presentation! A well-structured and organized project charter can make a great first impression on management that this project will be managed effectively and successfully. You want the management team to believe in you and how you will ensure that the successful implementation of the project will benefit the organization.


Drew Epps is President of MidDel Consulting and has over 30 years of experience in the energy industry. MidDel Consulting is a System Integrator and Professional Services firm specializing in services supporting the business systems for Front, Back and Mid-Office. MidDel has been in business for over 16 years, and our consultants, on average, bring over 25 years of senior level energy industry knowledge to our projects. We have deep relationships with our clients, often working with them for more than a decade. For more information, email us at or call #952-500-9275.