Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Does a Project Charter or Project Initiation Document Lead to a More Manageable Project Delivery?

~ By Susan de Sousa

Close-up of a businessman's hand with a gilded pen writing a document

Initiating a project usually involves writing one of two documents; a Project Charter or a Project Initiation Document (PID). Now a great many things happen during initiation. High level scope is determined, deliverables set and budgets estimated.

If these aren't investigated and documented effectively it can adversely impact the entire successful delivery. But which document is better for ensuring this?

Well to give a quick overview, a PID is a highly detailed paper which forces a PM to spend time upfront in seriously thinking about the deliverables, processes and governance required, before it even starts. A Project Charter is far less detailed and hence requires much less from a PM. It is essentially a quick way for work to get underway fast.

However, despite this, both documents have a similar feel and endeavour to fulfil the function of enabling effective initiation. But as you will have already seen, both definitely put the emphasis in different areas.

So which is better? Well if you have a small project then writing a long, convoluted PID doesn't make sense. On something this size it is highly likely the deliverable will be simple, the amount of resources utilised small and there will be just the one Sponsor.

On bigger or more complex projects, writing a PID will definitely make sense. Yes it is a detailed paper to complete, but ironing out issues surrounding scope, roles, responsibilities, development process and governance upfront is absolutely vital to prevent confusion later on.

The approval process for each document certainly bears this out. A Charter can be approved simply by the sponsor. A PID requires all the sponsors and other key individuals to formally approve it. This is harder to get and certainly takes time, but it means that activities start with all the stakeholders signing up to the same understanding of what is being delivered and when.

Therefore if you are ambitious and want to work on the big, high profile projects then you really have to have a good idea of how to write both documents, quickly and efficiently. This however is much easier than it looks as many PM's have found to their cost when they end up encountering the dreaded scope creep and budget deficits.

Needless to say any aspiring PM has to be conversant in writing both a Project Charter and a Project Initiation Document as both are equally valid ways of starting projects. However, as with many things, completing both takes a particular knack and is one which is definitely well worth learning, as having this skill is a great enhancement to any Project Manager career.

My Project Management Expert provides all the information you need to know to become a successful project manager, including how to write a Project Charter and a Project Initiation Document



Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment

(never displayed)

What is the next number: 10, 12, 14, ..?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

The Risky Business of Project Management

Three red dice reading: Manage your risk

It is important at the beginning of any project to go through the risk identification process. Not all project risks are obvious, so here's how.

Four Steps to Project Time Management

Man pointing at an alarm clock

The four steps outlined in this article will help you better define and measure the activities that make up your project timeline.

What is PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 logo

PRINCE2 is one of the most widely used project management methodologies available. If you're looking to run successful projects, then PRINCE2 is an excellent choice.

Learning from Project Failures

Success and failure directional signs

Some of the most important lessons we learn come from failures. Kenneth Darter explains a simple four step process to make sure the same failures aren't repeated.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.

Latest Comments

Pani Tararo commented on…
- Sat 22 April 12:58am

Cheryl commented on…
The Role of the Project Manager
- Thu 20 April 2:36pm

Dr. Nishikant Bohra commented on…
Who is the Project Manager?
- Thu 20 April 8:00am

Latest tweets

General Project Management • Earned Value Management #projectsmart #pmot about 4 days ago

General Project Management • Techniques and Methods for Managing Project Portfolio #projectsmart #pmot about 8 days ago

General Project Management • Advice needed - Initiating project "Better coopororation" #projectsmart #pmot about 8 days ago