What is a project charter? Stewart Varner gives the following description:

First, it guides you through an important series of conversations about what, exactly, you are doing and when you are doing it.

Second, it asks you to think about maintenance and preservation. These issues are totally obvious but are not addressed at the beginning of a project often enough. Having a process that requires you to write a statement about these things forces reminds you to at least have the conversations.

Third, having a charter in place gives you something to refer to when partners inevitably remember things differently. This does not mean that the charter should be considered sacred scripture but it will help to remind people when something is a change of plan and provide the opportunity to consider what that will cost in terms of time and effort.

The charter is a set of guideposts to keep you on the path to completing your project. Your path may change so be sure to adjust your guideposts and timeline as needed.

  • Project Name
    • The title/name of your project
  • Project Owner
    • The person responsible for the project
  • Project Summary
    • A brief description of your project. Things to think about when writing your description:
      • Your research question(s)
      • The scope of your project, that is, what do you want to accomplish in the 8 weeks, and what will the project look like at the end of the summer?
      • Your audience
  • Environmental Scan
    • Are there similar projects out there that address your research questions?
    • How will your project build upon or diverge from what is already out there?
  • Requirements for Development
    • Are there any intellectual property or copyright concerns with this project?
    • Who can you consult with to support your project’s development?
    • What library resources are needed? Additional resources required?
  • Bulleted List of Deliverables
  • Timeline
    • A weekly breakdown of what will be completed, with deadlines.
  • End of Life/Future Plans
    • The plan for the project after the fellowship. Will the project continue on in some form? Who will continue to work on it? How will it be preserved?

Adapted from Stewart Varner’s blog posts “Project Proposal Form” and  “Project Charter.”