Project Charter: PMP Topics to Learn

Project Charter: PMP Topics to Learn

The Project Charter – I know I use the word important a lot in my posts, because isn’t it good to know what is important? With that said, a project charter might actually be the most important topic you learn for the PMP exam.

Okay, that is a bold statement – the most important topic you can learn – well let me explain why I believe this. I will provide justification by defining the project charter, explaining how it relates to PMP Process Chart, and ultimately explaining why this topic is so critical for the exam.

Project Charter: Defined

The project charter is the document that provides official authorization for a project. The charter includes key business needs, with high-level scope, budget, and schedule for the project. The charter should define the key stakeholders, remember we discuss this in the Stakeholder Management post, including key vendors needed to complete the project.

A critical stakeholder you need for a project charter is the project sponsor. The project sponsor must sign the charter to officially authorize the project to begin. Please remember a project is not a project until there is a signed project charter!

This is actually a great transition point for how the project charter relates to the other 46 processes.

Project Charter: How it Relates

As you should remember a project charter is in the Initiating Process Group, because a project charter is created before there is an assigned project manager.

The charter is the document that provides justification for the work and expenses to complete the project. All companies have finite budgets and resources and with the appropriate justification business leaders, as sponsors, can decide if the project is worth the expense.

Additionally, you likely caught that the project charter is written before a formal project manager is assigned. Please note that typically the charter calls out who the project manager will be, and a good project sponsor will engage the future PM in the creation of the charter.

Finally, the Develop Project Charter process is grouped in the Integration Knowledge Area. This placement is because the project charter is an integrating document. It includes very high-level descriptions of scope, budget, schedule, and stakeholders that will be used later as inputs in the Planning Process Group.

Remember the Integration Knowledge Area includes all the pieces of project management that ensure that processes work together, and are not all chaotic documents.

Project Charter: Why It Matters

Okay, so why does this matter? Well for the exam purpose it is critical that you remember, a project is not a project until there is a signed project charter.

I cannot stress this enough, there will be questions that try to trick you on the exam that are specifically related to the statement.

For example, you can expect a question like this on the exam:

1. Joe was recently assigned to a project. His project sponsor asked him to develop a robust communication plan to ensure the large amount of stakeholders are throughout the project. After reviewing the current documentation for the project Joe should do this next:

A. Begin to create a RACI chart to identify how stakeholders relate to the project.
B. Begin filling in the communication plan.
C. Work with the project sponsor to formally sign-off on the project charter, which will accept the current project stakeholders.
D. Begin the Human Resources Management plan to better understand the project team.

Did you say C? If not, I tricked you.

Remember if there is a similar question with an answer choice that says get charter sign-off, then this is likely the right answer. Unless somewhere in the question it notes that a charter was already approved, YOU HAVE TO START EVERY PROJECT WITH A CHARTER.

From my experience, this is the most common topic to trip up many successful Project Managers that I have talked to after the exam. Although, in the real world steps can happen differently, in the official world of PMI, our respected experts on all things PMP, a project is not a project without a signed charter!

If you learn nothing else from my posts, I hope I made my point on the importance of the Project Charter. Without a charter, there is no need for a project manager, as your project doesn’t exist!

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