Writing a Charter

Another post on the nuts and bolts of putting together business documents.

A charter or terms of reference (TOR) document outlines a basis for the exercise of authority by a group. The group may be an existing team, or specially formed for the purposes of fulfilling the charter or TOR.

The two terms are often interchangeable; however, terms of reference is more appropriate for a group that is responsible for reviewing and monitoring, whereas a charter is more appropriate for a team charged with actually executing a project.

In either case, the document structure should be largely the same. A good sample structure is:

  1. Background   OR   Why is this needed?
  2. Purpose   OR   What will the team achieve?
  3. Authority   OR   What has the team been authorised to do?
  4. Key Activities   OR   What are the main ongoing tasks of the team?
  5. Deliverables   OR   What must the team produce and by when?
  6. Membership   OR   Who is (or can be) part of the team?
  7. Structure   OR   What roles have been defined? How is the assignment of roles decided?
  8. Schedule   OR   How often will the team meet and when? Is there a fixed end date?