Developing an Effective Project Charter

The initial setps of the six sigma problem solving methodology is the Define step. The adage of properly defining the problem is the most important part of solving the problem is central to six sigma or any project solving or project management system.


A critical element in the establishment of an improvement team is the development and acceptance of a project charter. A charter is a written document that defines the team’s msision, scope of operation, objectives, time frames, and consequences. Charters can be developed by top management or teams can prepare them and present them to management. In either case, it is critical to gain buy in from management and from the teams and employees.

The teams need direction, support and the autorization to spend time and money on the project. Management needs to have the enthusiastic involvement from the employees to make the project successful.


This depends upon the size, complexity and importance of the project. For simple projects the charter can be simpler. For large, complex and important projects and ones that involve many areas or departments a more rigerous and detailed charter will be called for. A short project charter is just as valuable as a long and complex one.


Any project charter should contain the following elements.

Business case-the financial impact of doing or not doing.
Problem statement-what is the core issue or problem to solve.
Project scope-what are the boundaries, what is not included in the project can be as important as what is included.
Goal statement-how you know you are successful or not.
Milestones-critical steps along the way.
Deliverables-what are the specific end products of the project.
Resources required-what do you need to be successful.

The charter begins with a purpose statement. This is a simple, one or two line statement explaining why the team or project is being formed. The statement should align with and support the organization’s vision and mission.


The charter should also identify the objectives the team is to acheive. The objectives should be stated in measurable terms and the operations scope should be clarified. A good charter can help the team to:

Be aware of the project goals and boundaries.
Help the team stay focused on the original goals.
Help the team work on projects that align with the organization’s goals.
Allow the team champion to suppor the team goals and effots.


Eliminates confusion.
Defines the boudaries.
Indetifies areas which should not be addressed.
Identifies the deliverable product.
Provides a basis for team goal sharing.
Authorizes the team to collect relevant data.
Provides access to necessary resources.
Approves time for team members to address problems.


4 thoughts on “Developing an Effective Project Charter

  1. Rob,
    Solid advise on projects charters and how to use them practically. It is refreshing to see another blogger, blogging about practical uses of Six Sigma (i.e. Kano & hotels) instead of the purely theoretical aspects of the methodology.

    I have recently (in the past week) developed a blog and a sister video site on the topics of “practical six sigma” that I think your readers might be interested in.

    I am allowing a few select blogger to use the videos on their blogs to add values to their current base… so if you are interested then please let me know.

    video site:

  2. Let me take a closer look at the videos. Posting them on my site would add value and I know you have some good ones. Regular and good updates are really important in keeping interest.

  3. I will set you up as a Contributor to my blog and you can then post videos there. We can start with the one on Histograms.

    Send me your e-mail address here or to and I’ll set you up. I’ll set it up so you will receive inquiries.

    If you want to post some of mine, the ones with the highest number of hits are:

    The Pillow Menu
    Developing an Effective Project Charter
    Tips on Identirying Non Value Added Activities

  4. In order for the team to be successful, the “3 legged stool concept” incorporates People, Process and Tools to keep the project within scope and successfully within the allocated budget”

    1. People – The human assets allocated to the project and have the necessary skills to complete certain functions and activities within the project. Project teams are established to define and execute the plan and must be managed in concert with each other to perform the needed work the project requires.

    2. Process – Structure is key to keeping the project teams on task. Having defined processes in place help to keep the teams working in the unison. Process and structure ensure your resources are working effectively and that the management team is able to receive and address issues as they bubble up.

    3. Tools – Project tools are in place to keep track of all the different tasks and resources tied together to identify dependencies, and critical paths within the project structure. These tools can range from communication documents to Gant charts and help the project teams to stay organized and effectively working together on the right tasks at the right time.

    Gravity Gardener

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