Project Charters: Templates, Examples and How Can Swiftlight Help

What is a Project Charter?

A project charter (or project definition) is a generally a (short) document that outlines key aspects of the project, such as its rationale, goals, deliverables, key dates, team structure, budget etc. It has a number of potential purposes:

  • To initiate and authorise the project;
  • To help “sell” the project to relevant internal and external stakeholders;
  • To provide a clear direction and focus for the project team throughout the life of the project.


The depth and detail such a document should go into will vary by situation. Sometimes it can be very simple (e.g. 1 page), sometimes much more. In general terms though, a good project charter will outline “where the project is going” and its scope with sufficient clarity for agreement / sign-off by the project sponsors, approvers and other relevent players, and with sufficent detail that the project team is not in doubt as to what they need to achieve. (Typical contents of a project charter are explained further down this page).

More formal definitions of a project charter include:

  • “A document issued by the project initiator or sponsor that formally authorizes the existence of a project, and provides the project manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to project activities.” PMI PMBOK
  • A statement of the project’s scope, objectives and participants, serving as a formal agreement between the project’s stakeholders and the project team.

What Does a Project Charter Look Like?

A project charter will contain some, or all, of the following elements:

  • Project name
  • Project sponsor
  • Rationale for project (e.g. the problem the project is solving, the expected benefits etc)
  • Objectives / goals and measures of success
  • Deliverables
  • Summary schedule: start / end date, key milestones, perhaps a timeline
  • Budget: costs, resources
  • Team: project leader, team members (perhaps also listing responsibilities)
  • Constraints / assumptions (e.g. may include what is in / out of scope)
  • Risks
  • Approval requirements


The exact contents, sections and layout will naturally vary from company to company and project to project, and according to the medium used (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint or something else), but to give you an idea of what one can look like, we’ve included a fairly detailed example below (click on the link to see a larger image).

Project Charter Example Structure

Project Charter Example Structure

Project Charter Templates / Examples

To help you better understand what project charters can look like and / or to help you get started, we’ve put together three templates for you, one in Microsoft Excel, one in Word, and one in Swiftlight. Just follow this link to see them and, if you are interested, download these project charter templates.


How can Swiftlight Help?

Swiftlight can help in three ways:

  1. By providing great-looking high level timelines for inclusion in your charter or other documents;
  2. For simple situations, Swiftlight’s timeline may be able to act as a “Project Charter on One Page“, detailing goals, develiverables, budget and more, as well as providing a timeline;
  3. If a bit more detail is required, you can use Swiftlight’s Objectives and Scope view to document aspects of the project direction in more depth.

1) High Level Project Timelines in Swiftlight

Project Charter Timeline

Click on the link to see a larger version of this project timeline.

2) A Simple “Project Charter on One Page” in Swiftlight

Project Charter On One Page

Click on the link to see a larger version of this “project charter on one page”.

3) Using Swiftlight’s Objectives and Scope View for Key Elements of the Project Charter

Project Charter Background in Swiftlight

Click on the link to see a larger version of this example.

Find Out More / Next Steps