A living document that should provide clear and concise answers to all of the questions below, with information added and updated as the project progresses. The information in a project charter is critical for obtaining leadership commitment to provide the necessary resources for completion of the project. This tool is one of the principle communication tools for all project stakeholders.

Answers the questions:
  • Why is this project important?
  • Who is responsible for the success of this project?
  • What are the expected benefits of this project?
  • When should the expected benefits begin to accrue and for how long?
  • Where are improvement efforts being focused?
When to Use Purpose
Start of project Broadly define the project (initial scope, preliminary estimates of benefits, performance goals, estimated start and completion time, and so on).
Start of project Assign project team members.
Start of project Provide rationale for the project by linking the project to stakeholder needs or requirements.
Start of project Provide a problem statement for the project and a clear definition of the defect that is the focus of the project.
Mid-project After establishing a baseline for a project, update the information regarding process performance, improvement goals, and estimated benefits.
Mid-project Continuously update information as the project progresses.


No data requirements exist because you only use this tool to collect and organize data.


  1. The project selection team often writes an initial project charter, which contains the following information:
    • Team (champion, process owner, project leader, and finance representative)
    • Title and problem statement
    • Initial estimate of defect rate
    • Preliminary defect reduction goal
    • Initial benefits estimates
    • Start date and estimated completion date
    • Executive summary outlining stakeholder benefits
  2. The project leader provides a clear definition of the defect to reduce as well as what constitutes a defect opportunity.
  3. The team members should sign the project charter prior to launching the project.
  4. Record the collected information in the project charter.
  5. Update information in the project charter as the project progresses.
  6. Most commonly, you update the benefits section of the project charter after you establish a baseline for the process, which also implies that you have evaluated the measurement system.
  7. Most commonly, you include finalized benefits information and performance metrics at the time you hand off the project to the process owner.


  • Remember the completion date is generally an estimate and you may need to revise it as the project progresses.
  • Organizations should standardize defect metrics. For example, usually Six Sigma projects use long-term DPMO, or PPM (what the customer feels), and short-term Z-bench (a measure of entitlement).
  • The importance of having Champion/management support is critical when the project affects or needs the support of a function/organization separate from the one doing the project. Evaluate the feasibility of such projects carefully.
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