A team charter is a document formulated in conjunction with team members to define the team’s overall objectives, resources, and constraints.
It acts as a guide for the team by outlining the magnitude of its work and setting a time frame. A team charter highlights critical information such as why the team exists, how it works, and what it hopes to achieve.
A team charter ensures that the ideas of team members are taken into consideration. The input by members of the team helps set into perspective their collective goals. It also ensures that team members agree on the level of commitment required for the project’s success. A team charter evolves along with the member’s goals as it is a living document; for instance, members may opt to update the goals of the template of the team charter if previous ones have already been achieved.
Note That: The team charter is formed by all members of the team and not just its management.
The definition of the word ‘team’ is determined by the individuals involved in the project. A team charter can include members of different teams in an organization. For instance, the content team and board marketing team can create a team charter outlining a project’s collective goals that link both departments in a company or organization. It should be formed before work on the project begins to ensure cohesion and trust among members.
Why You Should Create a Team Charter?
Members of the team must have a clear understanding of why the charter is important. Understating its importance ensures that organizations improve the overall output of their teams. It also ensures that organizations have a clear understanding of how the team charter impacts their project.
The following are reasons why a team charter should be formed:
Outlines the project objectives
A team charter enables members to create and outline clear objectives for the project. The objectives outlined help determine what efforts are necessary to ensure project success. They guide members on what direction to take when making decisions or suggestions on the project. Members also have a clear understanding of what they are expected to achieve based on the objectives.
Creates transparency in the team
Creating a team charter enhances transparency which builds a sense of ownership and enthusiasm among members and their leaders. A lack of transparency can impact team motivation or lead to poor decision-making as major stakeholders withhold critical project information. Transparency within a team also ensures that members can freely share ideas for the benefit of the project.
Defines each member’s role and responsibilities
The definition of each member’s role and responsibilities in the team charter ensures that individuals in the team confidently carry out their tasks. It also ensures that members can form meaningful collaborations as they understated their role in the team. Members also waste less of their energy and time, therefore, are more productive.
Informs outsiders of team’s responsibilities
The team charter is a quick and easy way of informing outsiders of the team’s responsibilities. It can be especially useful when trying to attract a new sponsor for the project. The team charter helps in ensuring that outsiders have a clear understanding of the intricacies of the tasks carried out by members
Sets resources that the team can request
The resources necessary for the team to function effectively should be well outlined in the team charter. The team can use the charter to request resources that adequately enable members to maximize their potential. Therefore, ensuring maximum output by members.
Helps in problem-solving
A team charter is an effective problem-solving tool as it acts as a guide for the members. Members can easily refer to the charter when problems arise. It also helps prevent problems by considering any areas that may cause concern in the future.
Here are a few team charter examples to help you get a better understanding:
Creating a Perfect Team Charter
The details indicated in a team charter are unique to every team due to the project it may be tasked with working on. However, certain elements are common and should be indicated in any team charter. Understanding these elements ensures that the team charter formed effectively informs the team’s direction.
The following elements should be discussed and included in a team charter:
Start with the context
The first step of creating a team charter is providing context on the team’s membership and its project. Setting up a context in the team charter ensures that members are aware of their roles and how they contribute to the overall project. It also helps in creating a foundation on which critical decisions can be made.
Team members should be sure to answer questions such as:
- Who is in charge of the team?
- What contribution can each member make to the team?
- What does each member hope to accomplish?
- What are significant stakeholders expecting from the team?
Define your mission and objectives
The team charter must define the purpose and goal of the team. It should outline the purpose in a clear mission statement. The mission statement will ensure that members understand what has necessitated the team’s formation and its aims to accomplish. The team charter may also indicate what benefits stand to be gained from the formation of the team. Therefore, the team charter should answer questions such as,
- What is the purpose of the team?
- What kind of team has been formed(project, coordination, management, etc.)?
- How does the team define success?
- How is the team’s work contributing to the rest of the organization/company?
Define your budget and resources
The budget and resources that will be available for use by members should be outlined in the team charter. The team charter should also break down how funds will be used within the team. A clear list of the resources available for use by members should be indicated. Therefore, the team charter should answer questions such as,
- Who is providing funding for the project?
- What overall amount is available for use?
- Who will be responsible for facilitating the funds and resources?
- Will training be provided to members of the team?
Describe the roles and responsibilities
The team charter should clearly outline each member’s role. Description of roles and responsibilities within the team ensures that members do not doubt what is required of them.
The team charter should answer questions such as:
- What are the skills and expertise of the team members?
- Will there be special roles within the team?
- Will additional individuals that will be incorporated into the team?
Outline the team’s operational structure
The team’s work process and structures should be clearly outlined in the team charter. It will help ensure smooth workflow from beginning to end. Outlining the team’s operational structure ensures that procedures are followed when introducing a new individual or when a member is leaving the team.
Therefore, answers must be provided to questions such as:
- What procedures will be followed when incorporating new members?
- How will work be distributed within the team?
- How will conflicts be resolved in the team?
Outline the project’s scope
The team charter should outline the tasks of the project and its boundaries. The scope helps indicate the work necessary to meet the requirements of the project. Each member’s contribution to the scope should be indicated in the team charter.
Therefore, members must aim to answer questions such as:
- What work needs to be done to achieve the team’s goals?
- How can each member contribute to the scope of the project?
Team member’s performance assessment
The team charter should address the method that will be used to assess the performance of members. It should also state the individual responsible for carrying out the assessment and how often it will be undertaken.
The team charter should therefore answer questions such as:
- How will progress be monitored?
- Who will carry out the assessment?
- How often will the assessment be carried out?
- What will happen to members who do not achieve set goals?
- At what point of the project will an assessment be considered necessary?
Create deadlines and milestones
Members should ensure that the template used for team charter indicates clear milestones that must be achieved and the deadlines to attain. The milestones indicated will signal if the team is on the right path to attaining its ultimate goals. The team charter should also provide a general deadline by which the team’s goals should be achieved.
Various questions can be posed when indicating this information, such as:
- What milestones should each member achieve to attain ultimate success?
- When should those milestones be reached?
- When are members expected to complete the project?
Decide the method of communication
Establishing clear communication channels will ensure that members can share ideas among themselves freely. The charter should outline how communication between members and their leaders will be achieved. It should also outline the protocols that will be used to arrange and communicate meetings dates and the agender to be discussed. Members can seek answers to questions such as:
- What are the guidelines for organizing meetings?
- What communication channels will be used among members?
- How can members communicate with the team leader?
Signatures and approvals
The signatures of all team members must be indicated and dated on the team charter template. The signatures prove that all members agree with the information in the document. Approval must be sought from the project sponsor for members to begin work on the project formally.
Team Charter Templates
A team charter template is a predesigned document that can be used to fill in information on how a team works, its goals, and objectives. It plays an important role in guiding an individual on where to fill in important details about the team. It also ensures that information is easily retrieved when required. We have customized downloadable team charter templates to help you get started:
Frequently Asked Questions
When a project plan goes through a significant change that impacts its guidelines, members can update their team charter. It should also be updated when a new member is introduced to the team. An update shall as well be necessary if a member decides to exit the team. The member’s contribution should be reviewed and revised to ensure a smooth transition for the organization and the team.
The best practice for making a team charter is to formulate it in conjunction with the team members. The incorporation of each member’s input will ensure that they have adequate knowledge of the project. Members do not need to know the details of the document.