Crafting a Project Charter: Navigating Resources and Scope

April 16, 2024 · 6 min read

In project management, a project charter stands as a foundational document, crucial for delineating the timeline, budget, and resources necessary for a project's execution. While deadlines are a common feature in charters, the allocation of funds and resources demands an equally strategic approach. This article aims to demystify how monetary resources are represented within a project charter.

Financial Management in Project Charters

From our previous articles, we remember that not all managers directly handle financial aspects across every project. Often, managers get human resources instead and sometimes don’t even know how salaries are distributed. Also, there is a hybrid scenario where both personnel and a budget are provided. What, then, should be documented in the charter? The straightforward answer is: everything.

financial resources

Budget-Only Projects

For projects with a budget as the primary resource, it’s quite simple. 

It's sufficient to state that the project's budget shall not exceed a certain amount. 

In larger corporate environments, it's equally vital to specify payment schedules to ensure timely fund disbursement and plan for the rhythm of cash flow.

Resource Requirements Beyond Finances

What if you get resources for your project. Let’s start with equipment and materials rather than personnel. In this case, it's important to list what is needed and by when, especially if timing is critical. 

When human resources are involved—say, the need for five developers and two testers—it's crucial to understand that a charter is a fixed plan. Listing individuals by name can backfire if changes in personnel occur, necessitating a project reboot. 

A more practical approach is to describe needed roles as clearly as possible. 

For example, specifying the need for five Java programmers, with at least two at a senior level and the rest at a middle level, helps in defining necessary skills without tying the project to specific individuals. 

The Exception for Individual Expertise

There are exceptions, such as when a project is uniquely dependent on a specific individual's expertise, like an engineer who designed a system being upgraded. In such cases, the project's timeline and budget might be tailored to that individual's involvement, making their participation non-negotiable. Otherwise, it’ll be the other project with other timing and budget, as it’ll require reverse engineering and lots of time to get how the system functions. 

Defining the Project's Scope

Shifting focus to the project content statement, it's evident that this section is typically the most voluminous. Despite the charter's limited page count—often three to five pages—it's imperative not to conflate it with a more fluid document like a technical specification, which many managers opt to forego. A charter's essence lies in concisely and accurately detailing the project's core elements.

What We Do and What We Don't

The content section should clarify two primary aspects: what will be done and what will not. 

Using the example of building a house, you may come up with endlessly detailing the construction nuances. However, the content's purpose is to safeguard project objectives and clarify initial expectations. It's about stating the construction of a brick house with ten floors, while explicitly excluding tasks like landscaping, interior decoration, and the building's handover process. 

Keeping the description succinct yet comprehensive ensures that the charter remains focused and avoids dwelling on variables that should not constrain its scope.


In summary, crafting a project charter involves a balanced documentation of financial, material, and human resources, alongside a clear definition of the project's scope. By prioritizing clarity and specificity, project managers can establish a solid foundation that guides the project towards its objectives while managing stakeholder expectations effectively.

🔎 Read our next article in this series: "The Project Charter: Stakeholders, Risks, Delivery Outcomes, KPIs"

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