What is a study charter and why is it important to have one?

A study charter/ policy is a declaration – before commencing any work – that aligns the study to the corporation’s strategic goals, outlines the study scope of work and defines study boundaries (inclusions/exclusions, also sometimes called ‘battery limits’).

Study charters must have a good strategic fit with the business objectives – things like sovereign risk, commodity, size, complexity, funding strategy, technology and so on – and are tailored to each project being studied.

In study management, a study charter or project definition (sometimes referred to as the ‘terms of reference’) delineates roles and responsibilities, outlines the study’s purpose and objectives, identifies all key stakeholders, and considers risk. It sets timelines and milestones, and states whether there’s flexibility. The study scope is developed from the study charter.

Essentially, it’s an upfront process to ensure everything is in place to commence work on the study and adds structure and process-based thinking to the study. A study charter is like a compass – it sets direction, accountability and helps keep studies on track and moving in the right direction. This is especially helpful when unexpected issues and challenges arise. Well-organised and clearly defined studies tend to have greater chances of success.

Project charters help ensure that everyone involved has a clear idea of the project scope, main assumptions, study objectives, and measures of success right from the get-go. Aside from capturing essential details and providing an overall understanding of a study’s development and objectives, a study charter can later serve as a useful reference of authority for future planning of the project.

Taking time to document a project’s parameters and objectives at the start helps remove ambiguity, sharpens focus and conserves mental energy.

Learn more about how a study charter can support a sustainable business case.

Learn more about how we can support in planning and developing projects using the Enthalpy Capital Investment System.