A group charter is a document that is developed in a group setting that clarifies the group’s direction while establishing boundaries. The charter is formed at the beginning of a group project and should be developed in a collaborative environment (wiki document, web conference, phone call, etc.) to encourage understanding and buy-in.
The group charter has two purposes. First, it serves as a source for the group members to illustrate the focus and direction of the group. Second, it educates others (teachers, TA’s and other groups), explaining the direction of the team. Investing the required time to develop a charter reduces confusion about the group’s objectives and goals. The charter also provides the information needed to reduce the risk of absent group members, rework, and enables the team to get it right the first time.
The team charter may contain the following topics:
Vision and Values: What are the group’s core values? What is the vision of the group? What does the team want to become? Who is your group?
Mission and Objectives: What a successful semester/group project looks like? What are your common goals? What do you expect to accomplish? What are your team objectives?
Team Processes: What are the ground rules? What do you expect from each member? How will you make decisions? Will you use voting, consensus, single decision-maker, etc.?
Communication and Coordination: What is your communication plan? When will you use email, call, or meet in person? Will you have weekly meetings? What are the meeting guidelines? Who is expected to attend? What happens if someone does not attend? Who will set up meetings? Who will send out minutes? Where will minutes and other documents be stored? What happens when you disagree? At what point will you need a third party?
Authority and accountability: Who is responsible for editing, turning n assignments, organizing, assigning work, etc.? What happens when someone has not done their part? What will the group gain from being held accountable? What is expected of each member? How will work be distributed?
Resources: What resources are available to you? Who will find, contact, etc. the necessary resources needed.