What Is a Team Charter? & How to Create One for Your Team?
Find out how to create a team charter and the way it can help the team accomplish goals, communicate well, resolve conflicts, and complete the project on time.
Wondering why you need a team charter? Feel it is way too complex for your project and team? Relax – a team charter is simply a visual outline of what your team stands for and how they operate. You basically share a document of goals, strategies, and processes – it gives an opportunity to begin the project on a united front. It is an amazing central source of information. A charter provides accountability for team members, establishes a shared vision for project success, boosts communication among the team, ensures everyone understands team ideals, and delivers a customized team process document. So are you ready to get started?
- Table of Contents
- What is a Team Charter?
- Why Is a Team Charter Important?
- Team Charter Elements That You Should Include
- How to Create a Team Charter?
What is a Team Charter?
To put it in a nutshell, a team charter is a document that outlines goals, assets, and objectives. For a team, it focuses on their deliverables and how to map them out over time in the best manner. A team charter defines the roles and responsibilities of each member involved. When it comes to a big project, a charter is created to remove confusion regarding the team’s role in a greater outcome, for both team members, as well as middle and upper management.
Why Is a Team Charter Important?
1. It provides the rationale and goals for the group and offers necessary direction to drive a team forward to accomplish objectives. The team knows what steps to follow in the days ahead.
2. A charter can ensure transparency within a team-leading to greater alignment, accountability, and actions. The document creates an opportunity for a team to build agreement around how they operate, make decisions, the regularity of meetings, and many more logistical issues.
3. The charter clarifies the team’s level of authority and sets the resource requirements required for successful results. The team gets to understand their boundaries, limitations and the parts for which they are responsible.
4. If implemented correctly, a team charter boosts productivity and chances of success. When you invest the time to create a team charter, you get to inspire individuals and help the team as a whole be more successful through measurable goals and agreed types of accountability.
Team Charter Elements That You Should Include
Mission and objectives
Define the mission and objectives of your team. It isn’t just what you are going to create, but why it matters to the company and your customers. It is imperative to put the customer’s requirements and expectations first, so you can transform how your team handles any project. Instead of just creating a product just for the sake of it, they start considering the customer in every decision they make. This is your purpose statement.
Roles and responsibilities
Team members should have a clear idea of their roles and responsibilities. Thus, they know exactly who is responsible for project management activities, who key stakeholders are in which areas, who the executive sponsor is, and the individual team members responsible for key deliverables. It is also necessary to be careful and deliberate as you pick your team – they should have the skills and expertise to finish the project within the designated time frame, and be able to adapt to any changes quickly.
Budget and resources
Outlining budget and resources is easier said than done. There are a couple of ways to go about it:
- Working top-down, from a more-or-less fixed amount that was handed to you.
- Working bottom-up, looking at your project line-items and figuring costs.
If team members can predict costs and keep them down, they have a better chance to keep stakeholders content. Having a section dedicated to cost management strategies can help team members during project planning and prepare for any changes too.
Workflow is an end-to-end process to ensure teams can fulfill their goals by connecting the right people to the proper data at the correct time. After it is set up, a workflow helps to organize the information in a way that is understandable by every team member. A team might have more than one workflow, depending upon how many programs or workstreams you can manage. For each major workflow, ensure team members understand the broad process, along with who to approach for any specific questions.
Project success has to be measured in both objective and subjective terms, so your team members know exactly how they are performing. A section should be fully dedicated to assessing how each team member is performing, while being able to measure team performance as a whole.
Team communication is vital for projects to succeed. Prioritize all forms of communication, including face-to-face, paper, and virtual meetings. Details should be easily accessible for reference when required. It is necessary to standardize team communication while discussing projects, on internal matters, talking with clients, etc.
Rules and conflict resolution
Conflicts will inevitably arise when people collaborate as a team. But it is important to establish a basic set of team values and ground rules so these situations don’t escalate. Some pointers to include are – treating everyone with respect, celebrating each other’s accomplishments, offering constructive criticism, assuming positive intent, and so on.
Team charters should have a “signature” section, where team members get to sign off. Their signatures ensure that each member understands and agrees with the details of the charter. The sign off is a formal approval of the charter that gives an official blessing to team goals, deliverables, and definition of success.
How to Create a Team Charter?
Step 1: Define purpose
How does your team work within the company? This question is very important to state the team’s purpose. Find a creative way to state purpose, which can be an excellent bonding opportunity for the team. Go for a brainstorming session and pen down all of their ideas. Narrow it down to a formal mission statement.
Step 2: Form the team structure
It is imperative to break down the team structure and list responsibilities associated with each role. It helps to define every team member’s role, while acting as reference to help others understand what their coworkers are contributing. This part is necessary for cross-team collaboration. When you share everyone’s roles and responsibilities in your team charter, you create a central source of information that team members can access if they have queries. This section can be updated if new team members join or there is any switch in roles.
Step 3: Chalk out budget and resources
Create a budget proposal during project planning, allocate resources accordingly, try to predict project changes before they occur, and minimize costs whenever possible. Having said that project budgets and resources can be difficult to secure, manage, and allocate. The main objective of this section is to outline general processes to handle project budgets and ensure every member is on the same page. Ask them to provide input when you discuss this part.
Step 4: Decide project workflow
Workflows is where you outline goals and objectives, set success metrics, define budget, chalk out milestones and deliverables, clarify stakeholders and roles, set a timeframe, and share communication plans. While each project may vary slightly based on unique features, you should have a general process to create deliverables and achieve project success.
Step 5: Tell your team what success means
The team should have clarity of what project success means. Always mix objective and subjective ways to define success. Thus, your team won’t fall into a habit of developing projects prior to considering each and every perspective. Follow the SMART methodology - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound.
Step 6: Set communication rules
Communication isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. While face-to-face or virtual meetings may make sense for some types of team communication, it is necessary to maintain a paper trail too. Discuss the way your team presently communicates. Try to find areas for improvement and incorporate these points in the team charter.
Step 7: Resolve issues
At times, it is important to disagree, because it means team members are sharing their real opinions. But it is critical to establish a basic set of team values and ground rules to prevent disagreements from going out of hand. Work with your team members to brainstorm your most important team values and create a series of ground rules.
Step 8: Review and sign off
Everyone needs to agree about what to include in the team charter. Share the document with team members so they can access it and see if there are any changes. They should be given the chance to review and make suggestions for improvement, before the sign off.
MiroCreate is apt for all kinds of brainstorming sessions and helps to map out your team charter visually. There are several templates to create a dedicate team charter board, which can be shared with team members and stakeholders. They can add goals, incorporate workflows, make changes, etc. There are custom workflow templates that are great for streamlining operations – assign work items and deliverables, and then set up workflow to ensure everything progresses smoothly. The best part is you can update the team charter as there are changes in the team and the project evolves.
Keep in mind that if your team rushes through the process because they are forced to create one, the resulting team charter won’t be effective. You have to get the entire team on board with the goals, objectives, and operations to create something that will provide a vision. For reference, go ahead and consult few team charter examples. You don’t have to get it entirely right the first time, since you can revisit and change details later on. MiroCreate gives the perfect opportunity to create digital version of a charter that you can access, collaborate on, and update at any time.