5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Chapter 5: Project Charter vs. Project Scope Statement

1. Introduction

In this particular post, I review the differences between the Project Charter and the Project Scope Statement. There are differences between them, but both of them have some common elements, so it may be difficult to distinguish them. The purpose of this post is to make the distinction between them clearer.

2. Project Charter vs. Project Scope Statement: Processes

The project charter is something that is an output of the process 4.1 Develop Project Charter. This is in the Initiating Process Group. As such, it is a document that is created at a high-level (broad-based rather than detailed) for the purpose of getting the project approved by the sponsor.

Once the sponsor says “yes” to the project, then the project manager can proceed to the Planning Process Group and create the Project Scope Statement as an output of the process 5.3 Define Scope. The Project Scope Statement is created at a detailed level from the general description of the Scope contained in the Project Charter, (an output of process 4.1 Develop Project Charter), along with the Scope Management Plan (an output of process 5.1 Plan Scope Management), and the Requirements Documentation (an output of process 5.2 Collect Requirements).

3. Project Charter vs. Project Scope Statement: Contents

Here are the elements of the Project Charter (used for approval of the project) compared to the elements of the Project Scope Statement (used in planning of the project). Those elements which are similar are put in the same row.

Project Charter Project Scope Statement
a. Project purpose or justification (fits business needs, strategic plan)
b. Project objectives, product characteristics a. Project scope description
c. High-level requirements b. Deliverables
d. Project assumptions, constraints, high-level descriptions, boundaries c. Project exclusion, constraints, assumptions
e. Project success criteria d. Project acceptance criteria
f. High-level risks
g. Summary schedule, budget
h. Stakeholder list
i. Project approval requirements and approval authority
j. Project manager assigned to project

As you can see, the project charter contains elements that deal with the justification for the project, who is running the project, and who has authority and approval over the project. But in addition, there are elements from the following knowledge areas:

  • Scope management
  • Cost management
  • Time management
  • Risk management
  • Stakeholder management

As you can see from the Project Scope Statement fleshes out in detail those portions of the Project Charter that specifically deal with the Scope Management Area.


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