Project Proposal vs Project Charter – In this article, I hope to encapsulate the documentation framework for a project and how important it is to know the difference between the many documents that flow in and out of the project, among the team members or stakeholders.
As the title states, this article aims at dispelling 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 its proceedings and their purposes are diverse as well.
Let’s venture into the world of awesome project management and create systematic procedures to ensure smooth functioning towards 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 where it supposed to be headed, with a view to achieve company goals and objectives.
If there are documentations, which have been specially designed for the project, it becomes very easy for the top management to maneuver through the project and check and compare the proceedings, accurately.
For the purpose of this task management and for even keeping track of the project, once the change has been implemented, documents come in handy to be able to turn them into guidelines or case studies. There are essentially 9 important documents that need to be used in a project. They are as follows:
- The Project Proposal – Kicking off the project is the project proposal, which is comprehensive and persuasive, the details within this document justifies the investment that is needed to get on with the project.
- The Project Charter – This is the mandate that turns the idea into real work by the project manager.
- The Project Management Plan – This covers all the necessary details about the entire project, making it easier for the project manager to look through the stages and plans.
- Action Log – This is like a To-Do list for all the team members for their different tasks on specified days.
- Risk Register – Similar to the Action Log, this is a counter for risk, enlisting all the risks that the project is subjected to.
- Status Reports – This is a collection of reports that tell you exactly where the project is at the current moment and how much more of it is left 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 – Lessons learned in due course of the project can be enlisted here so that those lessons can be implemented in further stages of the project or other projects within the organization.
Purpose of document for Projects
We always hate to document everything that we do because it is just so much of text to be written and covered and read. This makes it cumbersome for us to undertake and manage projects that come our way.
With so much of text and analysis, charts and graphs doing the rounds, maintaining documents resolved that issue and comes as easy for project managers to maintain trace ability of the project.
Experienced project managers ensure that their projects have standard templates kept in place for their documents’ storage. Successful project templates can be reused occasionally on a project-to-project basis.
With templates, managers can very well concentrate on their core responsibility of managing the entire project rather than indulging in heavy-duty paperwork and 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, project charter
- Planning – requirement specification, design document, project management plan
- Execution – action log, issue log, status reports
- Control – test document, change management
- Closure – technical document, function document, lesson learned review, 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, as known as 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 most of the time a short document used for the purpose of referencing the duties that need to be marked up for different roles within the realms of the project. They are extracts of detailed documents, such as the project proposal. It is duly considered as a standard industry best practice.
Apart from demarcation 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
- Problem aimed to be resolved
- Objectives that the project aims 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
- High level overview of the budget
These purposes are detailed components of the project charter and can have all or few of these elements. The project charter remains as the main and focal document throughout the life cycle of the project and invests a certain level of leverage and power to the project manager, who is the owner of this document.
A project charter seldom changes and needs to be reviewed at frequent intervals by the project manager, in order to keep track whether the objective is being followed and if there’s any current deviation from the plan.
The project charter is drafted after the project proposal has been approved and right before the project scope is defined. It follows the natural order of approvals and hierarchy for budget approvals.
An efficient project charter is one that fits onto one page of the size A3, for feasibility and 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 from an aerial view, you can have a look at a project charter.
What is a Project Proposal?
A technical proposal or project proposal is a very persuasive document that aims at convincing a group of stakeholders, top management personnel, and investors of the probability of the project resolving the issue given.
This again is a simple, yet detailed document that possesses the following objectives within it:
- Identifies the work that needs to be carried out
- Explains the cause of the project and what it aims at resolving
- Convinces and persuades the readers that the team is up and ready for project and are capable of driving it to its successful completion
- Explains the management plan and how sophisticated it is
- Assures the panel of the availability of resource employed to complete the project within the given budget and the time allotted
Tip #1: In order 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 with regard to its appearance.
Professionals on the panel need to be drawn into believing the need of the project and need a good enough reason to bank their money on it. A professional tone needs to be maintained at all times and the document needs to be easily accessible.
Tip #2: Apart from appearance, the second most important element of a project proposal is its idea. A strong proposal is detailed systematically and has a clear plan of action that the project will be overseeing.
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 needs to be aligned to the goals set by the organization in order to completely comply with its needs. Resolving an issue way off-board from the direction the company is headed, 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 from one perspective must include the use of graphical illustrations. These can be any of the following elements:
These illustrations are in fact the facts and figures put together in a much more compiled and easy-to-understand manner. Description of each illustrations should be underlying and should capture the important nuances that the graphics is depicting. This will make it easier to read and should encourage the panel to believe that the project is after all, very well thought through.
Use of 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 be rejected or redone.
Difference between a Project Charter and Project Proposal (300)
Once the project proposal is sanctioned and approved, the project is said to be official a go and can be commenced immediately, or as prescribed in the proposal. This is when the project manager is officiated and the project charter gets drafted.
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, and needs to be adhered to for the purpose of administration and project status.
- Each phase or stage of the project has at least one piece of documentation being carried out.
- Efficient and experienced managers keep templates with them to be used in different projects. The templates from a successful project can be used in a current project to increase efficiency and the trust levied in processes.
- There are, in effect, 9 essential project documents that need to be part of a project for its smooth functioning and traceability.
- Verbosity should be limited in project documents as they should be directionally and mostly used for the purpose of updating or recording events and outputs.
- The project charter and the project proposal are distinctive documents used in a project life cycle and need to be part of a project. They come under the main documents category.
- A project charter cannot be sanctioned before the approval comes through for the project proposal.
- Budgeting should be part of both documents as it is the key driving factor of the business’ idea towards the project.
Hope you now all up and running with your knowledge on documents and, especially, with the uses of a project charter and project proposal. Keep looking out through this space for more tidbits on project management and productivity.