I have been reminded recently in my current company, about the problems there can sometimes be setting up teams to work on small projects. Or rather not the setting up, but in ensuring they deliver what they were supposed to do and on time.

Here they were started for all the right reasons. Volunteers to work on a number of changes to people processes. Enthusiastic and willing to learn. And empowered to do what they thought was right in order to deliver. In practice though, some have struggled to create what was expected of them for a number of different reasons. And have disappointed and frustrated both themselves and the people who created them in the first place.

To maximize the chance of success in such cases, I have found the following ‘Template for Chartering Teams or Work Activity’ useful a number of times during my career. In addition to choosing the ‘right’ mix of people and experience for the teams of course!

 

‘Template for Chartering Teams or Work Activity’

A Charter can be viewed as a contract between the team and the sponsor, and generally contains the following elements:

  1. Problem Statement

What is the specific problem, issue, or opportunity that should be addressed, and, if appropriate, what is the specific outcome envisioned.

  1. Output

Provide a general statement, in one or two sentences, of the desired output and its format (presentation, report etc). Information about the overall objectives, purpose, expectations, and the customer should be provided. 

  1. Requirements

A listing of specific output requirements, deliverables, or needs.  These might take the form of recommendations, alternatives, pro’s and con’s, economics, risks, etc. It may also be useful to state things which are not required.

  1. Guidelines and Givens

What is OK and not OK to pursue.  These should not limit the work group to finding the “right answer,” but should help it avoid false starts and help it improve its chances for its recommendations to be accepted.  Include guidance about impacts outside the strict boundaries of the work i.e. systems thinking approach. 

  1. Membership & Other Resources

List team leader, participants, members, authorities, outside resources, budgets, the sponsor etc.

  1. Timing

Start, milestones, and completion dates (which should also be integrated with any other relevant change agenda & action item list).   

  1. Review Process

This is at least one place where effective sponsorship enters.  Describe how the group should work with the sponsor to get help, provide information, and when and how the group’s output is to be reviewed or implemented. There needs to be at least some planned interaction with the sponsor!

 

This list is not exhaustive and doesn’t replace standard project management techniques for large projects. But for one-off teams set up to do smaller projects, as a sponsor I have found it a very useful starting point to maximise the chance of success and minimise the chance of frustration.

 

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