Team Charter: The Ultimate Guide (with Examples & Templates)
Team charters are crucial for team success. Working as a team leader or team member in a group setting is exciting and tricky, especially when you are the group leader.
Every team member brings their strengths and weaknesses to the union. While there are certain shared values and goals in the team, they may be differences in their individual expectations.
How do you ensure the team is always on the same page? Are team charters enough to clarify team direction and team purpose across the entire organization?
This guide will show you how to create a team charter to help run your team's day-to-day operations.
What is a Team Charter?
A team charter is a document that outlines a project team’s focus, mission, roles and responsibilities, objectives, scope of operation, deliverables, and appropriate schedules. You can liken a charter to a North Star, pointing your team in the right direction.
The success of a team charter depends on the project team’s purpose, level of focus, direction, and boundaries.
By defining the team’s goals, resources, and likely obstacles, a team charter helps determine and develop the best way to deliver on the project’s deliverables and achieve a smooth overall purpose.
A team charter helps inculcate a sense of accountability among team members while providing means for feedback to improve employee engagement. It helps establish the ground rules for how your team functions.
The team's direction regarding project planning and other team activities is a collaborative process.
Getting everyone’s input and buy-in is essential for project success. Ensuring team members sign off on the charter is a smart way of keeping them committed and on the same page.
Components of a Team Charter
A team charter contains a series of distinct and pivotal elements that provide a clear roadmap to the team’s success.
- Mission Statement and Objectives: This section of the team charter explains the purpose and expectancies of the project team regarding specific goals.
- Roles and Responsibilities: All team member’s individual and collective roles and responsibilities relating to the project process are in the charter.
- Budget and Resources: A well-drawn-up charter details the approach to determining the budgetary requirement of the project and the most efficient way of redistributing the allocated budget to meet and deliver on set project deliverables.
- Work Processes and Operations: This component is where you provide thorough and detailed information on the project team’s work processes, such as their day-to-day operations.
- Boundaries and Potential Bottlenecks: Effectively managing project risks is a collective effort of the team. Outline all potential risks in the charter with the most efficient methods of tackling them to eradicate or minimize these risks as they arise.
- Signatures: This final segment of a team charter deals solely with accountability. All team members must consent to the team charter by appending their signatures to the final document.
How to Create a Team Charter
Team leaders should not take up an authoritative stance when it comes to drawing up a team charter as it defeats the purpose behind it. An effective team charter is a collaborative effort among all team members.
1. Define the Purpose of the Project Team
Irrespective of the number of projects currently undertaken by the project team, there is a stand-out purpose for constituting the project team.
This purpose is the first piece of information you should include in your charter document. Include the mission statement and objectives with the team’s purpose to create a sense of awareness and commitment for the team members.
The final decision on the team's purpose should come after a series of brainstorming team meetings involving all stakeholders.
Before meeting with relevant stakeholders, set up an effective team meeting agenda to avoid wastefulness. Ensure the purpose gets general acceptance from every member of the project team.
2. Create a Defined Structure for the Team
When choosing the structure of your agile team, it is important to create room for cross-team collaboration. The structure of your team is key information that makes up your charter.
By detailing every member's role and responsibility individually and collectively as a team, your team charter can now act as a major accountability document in disputes as to who was supposed to do what.
From the highest-ranking team member to the least ranked, define the team's structure, break it down into smaller units, and assign their roles and responsibilities.
Having a defined structure for the team makes it easier for new team members not involved in creating the charter to adapt to the expectations and workload easily.
Note that these roles are not permanent and can be subject to change based on ability and availability but all at the project manager's discretion. Project managers lead the team and determine the project’s direction.
3. Choose an Efficient Budgetary and Resource Allocation Strategy
Finding the most effective distribution formula for sharing the available project resources is difficult for the project manager.
The resources are limited and require the most stringent management strategy to ensure it spans the entirety of the project process.
Selecting proper cost management strategies is essential for any team. Include it in the team charter document to serve as a guide during the project planning phase.
The project’s primary goal is to use the available resources to produce the desired outcome efficiently.
Using the right budgetary and resource management software ensures the project team works within the budget during project execution. It helps the team work on reducing these costs to the barest minimum.
All key stakeholders involved in the project should agree on the final resource and budgetary sharing formula before documentation in the team charter.
4. Outline Project Workflow
The project workflow consists of the steps and processes that link the project team and the correct data required to help the project team deliver the desired outcome.
You begin the project planning phase workflow to ensure all team members can understand the project plan. Set up automated workflows to make your team’s workload easier and more enjoyable.
A standard project workflow includes the following steps in its design and setup:
- A proper definition of project goals and objectives
- A measurement metric to measure success
- Outline all project team members' individual and collective roles and responsibilities
- Effective budgetary and resource allocation plan
- Specific project milestones and deliverables with a complementary expected delivery schedule
Irrespective of the complexity of a project, a well-detailed workflow would ensure a proper project roadmap for delivering on the project’s goals and objectives.
5. Establish a Standard Communication Mechanism
Team communication plays a pivotal role in the successful outcome of a project. The team leader must enable a conducive environment for interpersonal relationships among team members to grow.
Although there is no clear-cut procedural laydown for how to carry out communication, frequent communication among team members is important.
Constantly seeking means to improve the communication among the project team is a constant dilemma that the team leader faces.
Poor communication can affect the project outcome to a large extent. Including a standardized means of communication accepted by all team members is essential.
You can use team communication tools to aid team communication and help your company build a high-performing team.
6. Highlight Effective Conflict Resolution Strategies
Conflict arising during a project process is largely inevitable and affects, to a large extent, the project’s progress. Put in place proactive strategies and ground rules to prevent the occurrence of these conflicts or manage them as they arise.
Although disagreement on its own is not bad, it fosters challenging and often bright ideas in some cases, ensuring you contain its excesses.
Every team member should feel comfortable bringing their ideas to the table. Basic team rules on the dos and don’ts regarding team conduct should be clear in the team charter.
7. Final Review and Sign-Off
At this stage, the team signs to express their agreement to the charter. Compile a draft copy of the team charter and make it available to all project team members for review and further discussion before publishing the final document.
Evert team member must sign off the team charter to ensure everyone can be held accountable for the overall team's success.
Team Charter Template (and Examples)
You do not have to design a team charter from thin air. You can use several charter templates and examples to gain inspiration to create yours. Many of these charter templates are free and require you to customize them to suit your current team’s needs.
1. General Team Charter
This charter template comes with options of ready customized templates. You only need to fill in the required parameters and answer the following questions in the charter template. TemplateLab’s charter template is suitable for a marketing team.
2. Team Canvas
This team charter is unique because it has a canvas board detailing effective ways to organize a successful workshop with your project team.
3. Team Charter Board
This template is highly effective for teams assembled remotely or not constituted in a specific location as it utilizes team norms.
4. Team Charter Template by SlideModel
This SlideModel’s charter template serves as a roadmap to help project managers and teams move their projects forward.
Team Charters FAQ
A team charter is a document that aims to define the project team’s goals and objectives, individual and collective roles and responsibilities, available budgetary allocation, and the likely constraints.
It can help provide new zeal and purpose to an already operational but dysfunctional team if properly utilized.
After successfully drawing up an effective team charter, it is important to keep tabs on the level of implementation of the team charter by the team.
Doing so gives you a comprehensive overview of your high-performing team's organization and the progress made regarding delivering the project goals and objectives.