If someone assigns me as the project manager of a project, the first document I will refer to understand the overall details of the project is the project charter, which is one of the key outputs of the project initiation process. If it is not available, I will work along with the sponsor (senior management representative who is in charge of the project) to define one and get his approval.
A typical project charter contains;
- High level scope of the project
- Business case of the project
- Key milestones with dates
- Major risks
- Major assumptions and dependencies including the flexibility matrix
- Key stakeholders names, roles and responsibilities towards the project
- Project managers name, roles and responsibilities
The project charter is approved by the sponsor. This is the formal document which appoints the project manager to the project officially. Project charter gives authority to the project manager. Any changes to the project charter must be re-approved by the sponsor.
Project charter brings in lot of clarity into the project, and is a good basis for planning the project.