project proposal vs project charter

Project Proposal vs Project Charter

Project Proposal and Project Charter are two different documents and their purposes are different as well. Both of them are crucial project documents and hold very different positions within a project. However, many PMP aspirants mix up them because they sound quite similar. In this article, we will clarify their differences.

Project Documents

The PMBOK Guide defines many project documents for different phases of a project’s life cycle. Each project document is associated with a particular knowledge area. Below are some project documents mentioned in the PMBOK Guide.

  • Project Proposal
  • Project Management Plan
  • Project Charter
  • Project Schedule
  • Stakeholder Register
  • Risk Register
  • Work Performance Reports
  • Work Breakdown Structure

Documentation is a key aspect of any project. Each phase of a project needs related documentation. By the help of these project documents and templates, accumulated data is stored and used when they needed. Based on the size of the contract, a project manager or a program manager can be the owner of this process.

Project Charter

A project charter is also known as a project definition document is a formal and short document that clearly defines the objectives, scope, goals, stakeholders and the teams involved in the project.

According to the PMBOK Guide, the project charter is an official document that formally authorizes a project or a phase and documenting initial requirements that satisfies stakeholders’ need and expectation.

Creating a charter has four basic steps

  • Determine the Project Vision
  • Describe the Project Organization
  • Plan the Approach to Implementation
  • List the Risks and Issues

Project Proposal

A project proposal is a detailed document that is used to persuade a sponsor and/or a group of stakeholders that a project needs to be carried out to solve a particular business problem or opportunity.
This document identifies the work that needs to be carried out and explains the management plan how the project will be managed. The project director is the owner of this process.

What are the differences between Project Charter and Project Proposal ?

  • The proposal takes place in the initiating phase where the charter takes place in the planning phase.
  • The owner of project charter is project manager but the owner of project proposal is project director.
  • Project charter is created once the proposal is approved.
  • The Proposal is created once an idea is conceived


As it is mentioned in the first paragraph, Project Proposal and Project Charter are two different documents and they serve different purposes. They are the main documents created for project management purposes. Both documents include project vision, objectives and budgets. The main difference between them is their purposes. The Charter is created to define the project on the other hand The Project Proposal is created to conceive the stakeholders.

Note that this is an important topic for the PMP Certificaton exam. You may encounter one or more than one question related with them.

See Also

Project Charter (Project Definition Document)

External References

The Charter


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