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by Dr. Daniel Jensen, Corporate Faculty, Harrisburg University of Science & Technology

A critical project document, and an output of Project Resource Management Planning, is the Team Charter. The purpose of this article is to provide a framework for developing this document, the Project Team “5 R’s” – Results, Roles, Responsibilities, Relationships, and Rules.  Clearly defining the “5 R’s” will allow the Project Manager to guide the team through the forming and storming stages of group development.

“Project Resource Management includes the processes to identify, acquire, and manage the resources needed for the successful completion of the project.  These processes help ensure that the right resources will be available to the Project Manager and Project Team at the right place and time” (PMBOK Guide, p. 307).  The most critical resource needed by the Project Manager is the actual members comprising the Project Team.  Consequently, Developing the Team is a foundational Resource Management process.  One of the project documents that is an input into the Develop Team process is the Team Charter.  The Team Charter has a different purpose than the Project Charter – don’t confuse the two.  The Project Charter provides a high-level project description and requirements, while the Team Charter is a document that establishes the team values, agreements, and operating guidelines such as communication guidelines, decision-making criteria, conflict resolution processes, and meeting guidelines (PMBOK Guide, 2017).  Although these elements, and others, are important, depending on the scope of the project, clearly defining individual and team Results, Roles, Responsibilities, Relationships, and Rules (5 R’s) is a useful framework that will help guide the team through the forming and storming stages of the Project Team development.

  • Results: The first step in the framework is to clearly define the expected results (deliverables/products/services) of the Project Team, typically found in the Project Management Plan, and how these results align with business goals and strategic objectives. Based on the Project Team results, then define the individual outcomes of Project Team members.  Project Team members need to know how the project supports organizational objectives and how their efforts support team objectives.
  • Roles: The next step is to define specific team member roles based on the identification of individual outcomes. A role is defined as a function assumed by, or assigned to, a person in the project.  Examples of project roles include engineer, business analyst, testing coordinator, product owner, team facilitator, etc.  A reference for specific roles is the Project Team Assignment document (PMBOK Guide, 2017).
  • Responsibilities: After gaining agreement on the roles, define specific responsibilities. Responsibilities are the assigned duties and expected work of a Project Team member to complete the project activities.  Again, the Project Team Assignment document is a reference to identify specific responsibilities.  At this point in the framework, it is important for the Project Manager, with the participation of team members, to identify any gaps and redundancies in team member roles and responsibilities.
  • Relationships: The next step is to determine the necessary relationships between project team members and stakeholders.  Who are the people and organizations from whom team members acquire resources to accomplish their day-to-day tasks, and to who do team members provide resources (information, products, etc.) for others to perform their tasks? Relationships are both internal to the project team and external with stakeholders.  Remember that project team results drive roles, relationships, and responsibilities.  A couple of useful tools to illustrate the intersection of responsibilities and relationships are the Project Organization Chart and a RACI Chart.  The Project Organization Chart graphically depicts the Project Team members and their interrelationships for a specific project.  The RACI Chart is a matrix that uses Responsible, Accountable, Consult, and Inform statuses to define the involvement of stakeholders in project activities (PMBOK Guide, 2017).
  • Rules: Ground rules are expectations regarding acceptable behavior by Project Team members (PMBOK Guide, 2017). Based on the team and individual results, roles, responsibilities, and relationships, what are the specific ground rules the team should abide by to achieve success?  Rules can focus on communication guidelines, meeting guidelines, decision-making criteria, conflict resolution, and other aspects of the Team Charter.  Ground rules should be developed by the Project Team, with guidance from the Project Manager as needed.  Taking a collaborative approach will facilitate buy-in and ownership of the ground rules and promote “self-policing” – that is, team members enforcing the rules.

Keep in mind that the Team Charter is a living document.  Updates may occur based on changes in the operational environment.  However, changes to the charter need to be deliberate with an agreed-upon, disciplined process to approve and incorporate changes.  As an output of the Developing the Team Process, an update to the Team Charter is crucial to the success of the Project Team.  Clearly defining the team’s “5 R’s” is a first step in establishing synchronized, supporting efforts by Project Team members.

Reference: Project Management Institute (2017). A guide to the project management body of

    knowledge (PMBOK Guide), 6th Ed. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute, Inc.