Project Charter

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.

So think of the charter as a set of guideposts to keep you on the path to completing your project. Sometimes the path may change; if that’s the case, then be sure to adjust the guideposts accordingly.

  • 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
      • 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
  • Deliverables
    • A list of all items your project needs to be complete, in order. Think of things like digital tools, digital assets, scholarly content, primary sources, etc. Think in terms of the Elements of a Digital Scholarship Project.
  • 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 post “Project Charter.”