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Topics: Construction, Healthcare
How many project managers on larger construction projects actually use a project charter?
I have worked on many construction projects as the owner's representative and found very few construction project managers started a project using a project charter.
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I have encountered that some companies use other documents (typically a contract) as an informal project charter. In my opinion, companies with a solid project management experience and/or with a PMO shall use project charters during project initiation phase.
From what I have experienced, construction project managers are considered to execute the project and that they have not much to do with project charters. It is; what I understand; because of the functional structure of organizations.
Anonymous
I know this may be a shock to many - the term charter is not very common - as much as PMI like us to believe.

Also - forget the term - think about what is charter? What does it do? What is its purpose? Once we can answer these questions then we know that most projects have a "charter" although it could be under a 100 different name.

Before I go on - we need to define what do you mean by a construction project; you mean the phase specific to constructing a facility by a contractor --- or you mean a facility project that has a project life cycle including feasibility - requirement - basic design - engineering - construction - and commissioning?

Now - when it come to construction - I will be very surprised to find a construction project that start without a "charter"; unless someone is building a shack somewhere. For contractors; the contract award document maybe used in lieu of "charter". For owner, they might use other terms. Also contractors might not be much into the PMI world.
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1 reply by Patrick Dicey
May 17, 2016 9:55 AM
Patrick Dicey
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Mounir is right... I think it becomes a terminology issue. Project charter (or similar) will absolutely be required in an 'internal' project: such as IT system/upgrades for a business customer. For external customer-facing projects (such as construction), charter may be replaced by contracts, purchase orders, and statements of work.

I work in the commercial world and projects are fairly similar. I will supplement contracts/POs/SOWs with a 'Project Kickoff' presentation that contains and documents any unique items. Between the two I've covered all the requirements of a charter.

Every project is unique, and how you manage every project is unique. PMI allows this as long as your processes are documented in your Project Management Plan. Internal and external customer projects will likely always have a lot of differences between the two.
Mounir is right... I think it becomes a terminology issue. Project charter (or similar) will absolutely be required in an 'internal' project: such as IT system/upgrades for a business customer. For external customer-facing projects (such as construction), charter may be replaced by contracts, purchase orders, and statements of work.

I work in the commercial world and projects are fairly similar. I will supplement contracts/POs/SOWs with a 'Project Kickoff' presentation that contains and documents any unique items. Between the two I've covered all the requirements of a charter.

Every project is unique, and how you manage every project is unique. PMI allows this as long as your processes are documented in your Project Management Plan. Internal and external customer projects will likely always have a lot of differences between the two.
Agree with Mr. Mounir Ajam,
project charter is there, but with different names and set of many documents.
Thank you everyone. When I studied for my PMP designation, the instructor told us that the project charter is imperative and, without it, you don't have a project. I have downloaded numerous samples of charters and can't make sense out of them for my particular healthcare design and construction project. I agree with most of you that a construction contract, or some other documents, can replace a charter.
I have sometimes seen the term Project Definition Document used synonymously as a Charter
Samuel
The term 'Project Definition Document' seems like a better way. It is more definitive. As an owner's representative, not many owners know what a charter is...and neither do many project managers!!
Good to know, Mark. I guess I will continue using the term where needed
Since I am on a roll, let me ask just one more question. How many project managers use the Earned Value technique? Again, in my many, many, many years as a construction project manager, I don't recall other project managers using this method.
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