Mudassir Iqbal

An Agile project charter is a document that serves as a roadmap for an Agile project. It’s created at the beginning of a project and is a high-level guide that outlines the project’s goals, objectives, and deliverables

“Agile projects leverage the Lean startup model to develop and test a hypothesis and then stop, pivot, or persevere,” explains Alan Zucker, Founding Principal of Project Management Essentials. “Projects stop if the team realizes this is not a viable product or there is not a market for it. We should cut our losses and move on. We pivot when we find a nugget worth pursuing, but it requires changing direction. We persevere when the hypothesis is validated.”

Components of an Effective Project Charter

The following table provides a list of charter elements and what the focus of each should be. Note that depending on the project the agile project charter may include additional elements than what is listed here.

Charter ElementFocus
VisionThe “why” of the project. The goal is to have a compelling and clear vision for the effort.
ObjectivesThis is the “What” of the project and it states what will be done in the project to achieve its higher purpose. This should include technical, business, product, and team objectives.
Project Size EstimateKnown/assumed customer needs, and anticipated functional and non-functional requirements.
Project Complexity EstimateRestrictions, limits, and boundaries that apply to the team, process, product, and/or schedule.
ScopeAn assessment of how big the resources needed will be to deliver this service based on an assessment of resources and organizational readiness for agile.
OrganizationExecutive/Stakeholder, project team organization chart (especially if there are multiple teams operating at the same time), organizational governance structures.
ResourcesSpace, equipment, people/roles, skillsets and capabilities, collaboration support, and tools. While you may not have names for all the teams that you will form for the project, you should have an idea of what roles you think you will be needed.
ApproachesStrategies, methodologies, processes, tools and techniques the team will follow.
Success CriteriaWhat determines the success outside the solution itself? Should be concise, realistic, and directly measurable.
PrioritiesOrdering, importance, and trade-offs within the project objectives (simulates a high-level product roadmap or release plan) as well as relative to other projects the organization is sponsoring.
Product RoadmapDefines where the product is headed and is tied to the vision and strategic goals. This is a key element that should be included.
Assumptions and ConstraintsRestrictions, limits, boundaries that apply to the team, process, product, and/or schedule.
Risks & IssuesTop risks, known issues, and relevant organizational history that impacts readiness, specific points of uncertainty, and which includes mitigation plans for each.
Sign-offKey stakeholder approval that authorizes the project and other necessary signatures.

Who is Responsible for Creating an Agile Project Charter?

Typically, the responsibility for creating an Agile Project Charter falls on the Project Sponsor, Product Owner, or Scrum Master.

Overall, an Agile project charter serves as a guiding document that fosters clarity, alignment, and adaptability within Agile projects. It provides a high-level overview of the project while maintaining the flexibility that is central to the Agile methodology.

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