Software Development Done Right

Your Guide to a Successful Product Release

Ch. 6: With No Project Charter, Your Crew is Sailing Blind

I’ve seen far too many projects become classified as a failure, not because of any one person’s fault, but because the team was not in alignment on what the expectations were. Enter the “Project Charter”, a document that addresses these on a couple of different fronts. In the world of Software Development Done Right, it’s a must-have for many reasons.


First, let’s define what it is. A Project Charter is a document that outlines the purpose, goals, and key stakeholders of a project. It is created at the beginning of a project to provide a clear and concise overview of the project and to ensure that all stakeholders are aligned on the project's objectives and goals. Wouldn’t that be a fabulous document for everyone to rally around? While one might say, oh that’s just a statement or contract for the work to be done. Yes, while a contract has some of these items, its purpose is far too specific and misses the major points that will ensure success.


As we continue to look at this process as one of exploration and adventure. I believe this charter is aptly named. Here are a number of reasons why a Project Charter is important and how it fits into the grand scheme of your software product:

  1. It helps define the scope of the project: The project charter outlines the specific deliverables and milestones for the project, helping to ensure that the project stays on track and within budget. It defines what the treasure is.
  2. It establishes project roles and responsibilities: The charter assigns specific roles and responsibilities to team members, helping to ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them and that there is no confusion about who is responsible for what. More on these “roles and responsibilities” in a later chapter. It defines who on the ship is responsible for what. 
  3. It helps to secure resources and funding: The charter is often used to secure resources and funding for the project, as it provides a clear understanding of the project's goals and the resources required to achieve them. 
  4. Finally, and most importantly, it serves as a reference point throughout the project: The charter serves as the north star, a guide to follow, helping to ensure that all team members are aligned on the project's objectives and goals. It gives your ship and the crew its bearings while at sea by which to guide itself during tough times.

As I argued in the last chapter, the WHY is a critical part of software development and how you can help to ensure the project is done right. Point #4 above addresses this head-on. By serving as a reference point, you are defining the WHY throughout the project. It’s a differentiator for any project I do and hands down will give you the biggest bang for your buck.


In closing, a project charter is an essential tool for software development projects, as it helps to define the scope, roles, and responsibilities, and why the project exists to successfully deliver the project. Reach out to me if you are interested in receiving a sample of a Project charter document that you can bring to your organization. Good luck and happy sailing!

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