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Developing a Measurement Project Charter

April 01, 2016

A well-defined charter is essential to set the direction and establish guidelines for a measurement project

Stephen Covey, author of the popular management book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, once stated, “If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” In business, it’s often tempting to jump right into action, without developing a well-thought-out plan. While this might feel more assertive and productive, it often causes more problems than it solves.

Instead of carefully developing sales and marketing measurements, practitioners are often quick to create a large quantity of reports in an ad hoc, reactive manner. SiriusDecisions’ Aligned Measurement Process Model describes a methodical, seven-stage approach to building b-to-b measurements. In this issue of SiriusPerspectives, we describe how to develop the measurement project charter, a key deliverable of the initiation stage of a measurement project.

Why Is a Project Charter Important?

Even the most straightforward measurement project can benefit from a formal project charter, which crystallizes the goals of the initiative and raises awareness of the project as well as the time and effort required from team members. Specifically, the charter clarifies:

  • Focus. Much of the effort put toward measurement is incremental work that feels inconsequential in the moment (e.g. “Can you just...?”), but adds up significantly over time. A charter allows stakeholders to identify the measurement project’s intent, and serves as a governing document that can be referenced to resolve questions or disputes.

  • Authority. The charter formally defines the measurement project as a distinct piece of work and establishes the authority of the project manager, particularly in a matrix-managed environment.

  • Buy-in. To the extent that developing effective measurement requires buy-in, the charter can serve as a short summary to distribute and present to internal audiences. This helps to build support and justify resource allocation.

Elements of an Effective Project Charter

Using a template eases the task of articulating the purpose and scope of the measurement initiative. Complete each of the following elements of the SiriusDecisions Measurement Project Charter Template:

  • Opportunity. Describe the current problem in detail and how the measurement project addresses it. For example, the opportunity might focus on developing better visibility into the impact of marketing’s branding efforts. A business case may accompany the opportunity statement, quantifying the costs and benefits of the project and using best/worst/expected scenarios to show the range of potential outcomes.

  • Goals. A clear, agreed-upon goal statement provides direction for the project and communicates its importance. Project goals must align with corporate or departmental objectives referenced in the opportunity statement. Depending on the size of the project, these goals may be incorporated into team members’ individual goals and objectives for the year.

  • In-scope and out-of-scope summary. This section provides a set of broad project boundaries whose purpose is to demonstrate that the project is manageable given the resources and timeframe. Is the project limited to one business unit or region? Does it address only a certain set of processes (e.g. performance monitoring for lead management). Include separate sections for in-scope and out-of-scope items.

  • Timeline. While a detailed project plan isn’t realistic at this point, it’s important to create an initial timeline that includes dates for the project kickoff, major project milestones and any key dependencies among tasks.

  • Roles and responsibilities. All team members and other participants need to understand what is expected of them and what others are doing. List and define the roles and responsibilities of sponsors, stakeholders, selection committee members, team members and the project manager (along with his or her stated level of authority). For sponsors, this includes responsibilities such as resolving conflicts that may jeopardize the team’s ability to select a business intelligence vendor. When it’s time to perform user testing on reporting deliverables, stakeholders and sponsors must be willing to allocate resources for this task. As representatives of their functions, selection committee members must proactively participate in the alignment phase. The project manager should have enough decisionmaking authority to reduce the need for direct sponsor involvement. Capture these details in a RACI matrix that describes each participant’s level of responsibility for each activity (i.e. responsible, accountable, consulted or informed).

  • Assumptions, constraints and risks. Capture any known environmental and operational factors (e.g. internal decisionmaking structures, organizational volatility, budget constraints) that may hinder the project from moving forward as planned. All sponsors and stakeholders must be aware of these potential failure points.

Supporting Documents

The project charter is supported by the following additional documents that provide more details about the project’s components:

  • Communication plan. For each type of project communication, list the following details: what (the information that needs to be conveyed); who (the individual or team responsible for disseminating the information [e.g. announcements by sponsors about project milestones, status updates from the committee team lead]); why (the reason the information needs to be communicated); where the information can be found (e.g. project Web site, email); when (the frequency and duration of communications); and how (e.g. newsletters, in-person team meetings); and to whom (the recipient of the information).

  • Project charter change control document. The charter may periodically require modification based on new information (e.g. changes to scope after vendor demos). This document describes the modification and provides a brief overview of how the change impacts the project and its associated risks, scope and timeline. The project sponsor should approve any proposed changes.

The Sirius Decision

For some measurement projects, developing a project charter may seem needless at first glance. Many elements of the project might be loosely defined already, and formalizing these elements may seem unnecessary, especially because the team knows that things inevitably change over the course of a project. However, this is exactly why developing the initial charter is so important; many projects fail due to scope creep, and this is more likely when there is no clearly defined reference point for the original parameters of the effort. However, it’s also important for the charter to reflect the size of the measurement project. Make sure critical elements are clearly defined, but avoid overcomplicating the document.