Is the project charter the first document on the project?

Earlier today I saw a post from a colleague that triggered this short post.

What my colleague had posted is guidelines about how to complete the “first” document on a project. In the view of person posting the message, that first document is the project charter. 

This is not a correct statement.

Yes, developing a charter is the first process in the #PMBOK Guide but that does not make it as the first document produced on a project.

One must keep in mind that the processes and process groups do repeat in every phase of the project. The PRoJECT CHARTER —- the charter (document) that authorizes the project is produced after a project owner determines that the project is feasible. To do so – determine feasibility – the project has a concept or feasibility phase. This phase is what the PMBOK Guide labels as “pre-project”.

Therefore,

Before a project charter is produced, there are numerous documents that has to be finalized. These may include:

  • The project idea statement,
  • If approved, then there is a charter for the conceptual phase to authorize this phase,
  • Next the team must produce the Plan for conceptual phase,
  • With an approved plan, the team will conduct a feasibility study,
  • Management will review and either stop the project, if not feasible, or accept the feasibility study.
  • If the study is accepted, management can still decide to stop the project or proceed,
  • If the management decides to go ahead ——- only here and now they require the development of a project charter.

The following image, used in past articles, illustrates this concept.

Project and Phases' Charters

Per the above image, every new phase has a charter.