Project Charter

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A project charter is the statement of scope, objectives and people who are participating in a project.

What is it?

Project charters are written documents that come in many forms. For improvement projects, they should include, as a minimum, a concise summary of:

  • What the team wants to achieve from their improvement efforts, described as an improvement aim. Include how much improvement will be achieved, who the improvement is for and when the improvement will be achieved by.
  • Why the work is important – the rationale or business case for the work. This should outline; the problem the work will address, how this links to strategic objectives, how you know this is a problem, who is affected, the impact of doing nothing, the benefits to be derived from improvement e.g. outcomes for people, and impact on resources (environmental, financial and social).
  • The scope of the project -  what is included in the work.
  • How the team intend to achieve the improvement aim – this should include initial ideas for change and the supporting activities to make the work happen.
  • How the team will measure the impact of the work.
  • Who will be involved the work and their role. Key people should include; subject matter experts, process owners who can make changes, representatives of those impacted by your project (families, young people, patients, customers etc), finance representative (where needed), and a sponsor linked to executive level for leadership support.
  • Any risks to the delivery of the project, so that decisions can be made on how these should be addressed. 
What does this tool look like?
Project Charter Example
Why use this tool?

Project charters are used to provide direction and a sense of purpose to improvement projects, they:

  • Communicate what is to be achieved and why this is important, providing the team with a shared vision.
  • Aid leaders to see the organisational value of a project, including how it aligns to strategic objectives, to help secure their buy-in to the work and the resources required.
  • Provide a definition of how success will be measured so that there are shared expectations.
  • Empower the team to undertake the work.
  • Set out the scope of the work to be undertaken to keep the project on track.
  • Provide clarity on who will be involved and the activities to be undertaken.
Where does this tool fit in the improvement journey?


This tool is relevant at this stage of the Quality Improvement Journey.


It is also relevant to the three themes that support your journey.

How to use it

The project charter should be used as a compass for your improvement project, setting the initial direction for the team and helping to keep the project on course as the work progresses.

Use it to:

  • Initiate discussions with senior leadership to secure a mandate for the work.
  • Help team members feel shared ownership for the work by involving them in its development.
  • Communicate to new team members what is involved in the work.
  • Provide an anchor at team meetings by checking progress against what is outlined in the charter.
  • Inform other key outputs associated with your improvement project e.g. your driver diagram and project plan.
  • Provide clarity if differences in expectations occur.
Resources to download