Updated June 12, 2023
Project Proposal vs Project Charter – This article aims to encapsulate a project’s documentation framework and the importance of knowing the difference between the many documents that flow in and out of the project among the team members or stakeholders.
This article also aims to dispel the darkness away from individual documents, a Project Charter and a Project Proposal. Though very similar, these two crucial documents hold very different positions within a project, and their proceedings and purposes are diverse.
Let’s venture into the world of awesome project management and create systematic procedures to ensure smooth functioning toward achieving the business’ project goals and objectives.
Project Proposal vs Project Charter Infographics
Documents for Projects
A well-documented project is a project that has been systematically driven and steered into the direction it is supposed to be headed to achieve company goals and objectives.
Suppose there is documentation that is specially prepared for the project. The top management professionals should maneuver through the project and check and compare the proceedings.
Documents are useful for managing tasks and keeping track of the project since they contain guidelines or case studies. There are essentially 9 important documents that need to be used in a project. They are as follows:
- Project Proposal – The project proposal is the kicking off of the project, which is comprehensive and persuasive. This document’s details justify the investment needed for the project.
- The Project Charter – This is the mandate that turns the idea into real work by the project manager.
- Project Management Plan – This covers all the details about the entire project, making it easier for the project manager to review the stages and plans.
- Action Log – This is like a To-Do list for all the team members for their tasks on specified days.
- Risk Register – This contradicts the action log of the project.
- Status Reports – This collection of reports shows the current moment and how much work is pending to achieve the project goal.
- Budget – A numbers document that contains all accounts of the slated budget for the project. On the financial side, this document enlists all important figures.
- The Lessons Learned Review – The list of lessons learned during the project should be made. Those lessons can be implemented in further stages or other organizational projects.
Purpose of Document for Projects
We always hate to document everything we do because it is just too much text to be written, covered, and read. This makes it cumbersome for us to undertake and manage projects that come our way.
With so much text and analysis, charts and graphs doing the rounds, maintaining documents can resolve that issue. It is easy for project managers to maintain track of the project.
Experienced project managers ensure their projects have standard templates for their documents’ storage. Managers can occasionally rescue project templates on a project-to-project basis.
With templates, managers can concentrate on managing the entire project rather than indulging in heavy-duty paperwork, data accumulation, and segregation.
In each of the following stages, you can find documentation as a pivotal part of a project that goes hand in hand with the communication element of a project:
- Initiation – Feasibility report, project proposal, and project charter
- Planning – Requirement specification, design document, and project management plan
- Execution – Action log, issue log, and status reports
- Control – Test document and change management
- Closure – Technical document, function document, lesson learned to review, and handover document
With all the basics clear and the purpose of documentation in front of you, you can now get into the details that tell us what exactly a project charter and a project proposal are and what sets them apart.
What is a Project Charter?
A Project Charter, a project definition document or a reference for authority document, is a statement that clearly states the scope, goals, objectives, and the teams involved in the project.
While outlining the project objectives, a project charter provides the following major functions:
- A preliminary demarcation of the roles and responsibilities that each individual plays during the proceedings of a project
- Identification of primary stakeholders or project owners and project sponsors
- Outlining of the duties and roles undertaken by a project manager
A Project Charter is a short document to refer to the duties to mark up for different roles within the realms of the project. They are extracts of a project proposal and detailed documents. It is duly a standard practice considered in the industry.
Apart from the distinction of the roles and responsibilities of an individual project, a project charter is a reference document for the following purposes:
- Purpose or reasons for undertaking the project
- Aim to resolve a problem
- Project objectives to achieve
- Constraints of the project
- Ways and means of achieving the solution
- Identities of the team and project stakeholders
- Items that are in-scope and out-scope
- Risk estimation on the project
- Benefits that the project will bring
- A high-level overview of the budget
These purposes are complex components of the project charter. The project charter remains the main and focal document throughout the project’s life cycle. It invests a certain level of leverage and power to the project manager, who owns this document.
A project charter seldom changes the documents. To keep track of the objective met and whether there is any current deviation from the plan, a project manager should frequently review the documents.
The project charter is drafted after the proposal is approved and before the scope is defined. It follows the natural order of approvals and the hierarchy for budget approvals.
An efficient project charter fits onto one page of the size A3 for feasibility, easy understanding, and traceability. Other project charters can be drafted on word-processing documents as well.
So, if you need to know what the project would seem like from a high-level or an aerial view, you can look at a project charter.
What is a Project Proposal?
A technical or project proposal is a very persuasive document that aims to convince stakeholders, top management personnel, and investors of the probability of the project resolving the given issue.
This is a simple yet detailed objective of the project proposal:
- Identifies the work that needs to be carried out
- Explains the cause of the project to resolve it
- Convinces and persuades the readers that the team is up and ready for the project and is capable of driving it to its successful completion
- The management and complexity of the plan are explained in the proposal.
- Assures the panel of the availability of resources employed to complete the project within the given budget and the time allotted
Tip #1: To do all of these and be able to put your point of view in front of the panel, it’s necessary to ensure that the proposal scores a 10 on 10 regarding its appearance.
Professionals on the panel believe in the need for the project and the money. The tone should uphold professionalism, and the document must be easily accessible.
Tip #2: Apart from appearance, a project proposal’s second most important element is its idea. A strong proposal is methodically comprehensive and includes a clear project strategy.
The more technically sound your proposal is, the better it is for the organization. Backing up data and content with facts and figures can help elevate your proposal.
The project must align with the organization’s goals to comply completely with its needs. Resolving an issue away from the company’s direction can be completely pointless.
What Do You Need to Include in a Project Proposal
Unlike the project charter, which is an extract of mainly the project proposal or statement of work, a project proposal is a highly detailed document, leaving out verbosity. The format normally consists of a layout and typography, which entails.
The layout must include the use of graphical illustrations. The following are the elements of layout:
These illustrations are the facts and figures put together in a much more compiled and easy-to-understand manner. The description of each illustration should be underlying and capture the important nuances that the graphics depict. This will make it easier to read and encourage the panel to believe the project is thoughtful.
Using tables can also boost readability and clarity in the text and point the reader towards making an informed and clear decision quickly.
The typography would include orderly headings and should maintain a good flow to the content. Misplaced content won’t serve the project’s purpose and might lead the project proposal to being rejected or redone.
Difference between a Project Charter and Project Proposal (300)
The project is officially a go after sanctioning and approval. It is immediately started with the instructions in the proposal. The project manager is officially present during the approval of the project. And the project charter drafts document.
The following table enlists the roles of the project charter against that of a project proposal. Note that this list isn’t exhaustive and can have many more properties enlisted from the explanations given above:
Points to Remember
- Documentation is a key aspect of any project, whether technical or in any other industry. It should adhere to administration and project status.
- Each phase or stage of the project has at least one piece of documentation.
- Efficient and experienced managers keep templates to use in different projects. In a current project, the use of previous templates increases the efficiency and the trust levied in processes
- In effect, nine essential project documents must be part of a project for its smooth functioning and traceability.
- There is a limitation of verbosity in project documents. They are useful for updating or recording events and outputs.
- The project charter and proposal are distinctive documents in a project life cycle. They come under the main documents category.
- A project charter is sanctioned after the approval of the project proposal.
- The key driving factor of the business idea is the budget for the project.
Hope you are now all up and running with your knowledge of documents and, especially, with the uses of a project charter and project proposal. Keep looking out through this space for more project management and productivity tidbits.