What is a Team Charter?

A team charter is a document that outlines a team's overall mission, resources and scope. A team charter document should be treated as a living document because a charter document reflects the mission, goals/OKRs, and team members of the team the document is written for.

Why Write a Team Charter?

Team charter documents are very helpful not only for team members but for anyone who works at your company. They allow people who work at your company to quickly figure out why your team exists, who the members are, what you are working on this quarter, and how they can get in touch with you.

Team charter documents increase transparency and help with planning and coordination - if the managers at your company do a good job writing and updating them.

What is Captured in a Team Charter Document?

Different companies adopt different team charter templates depending on what information is most helpful for people at that company. That said, aiming for consistency within a company is encouraged. Readers should be able to find the information they expect to find. Let's walk through what information you should consider capturing in your team charter document.

Team Name: The name of the team this charter is written for, i.e. App Engine Team, Data Platform Team, Payment Processing Team.  You can also specify which group your team is a part of here, i.e. Storage team, part of Data Infrastructure.

team charter should capture team's mission
the team charter should capture the team's mission

Mission Statement: The mission statement should be captured at the top of the document after the name of the team. Mission statement describe what this team does and for whom. It tries to describe the team mission in a clear and concise format. You want this mission statement to be at the top of your team members' minds when they are planning, thinking about making trade offs, or responding to customer requests.

Google Cloud Platform's mission is to enable organizations around the world to transform their business using digital technology and to do so by offering the best infrastructure.

Who Are We: As the name suggests, this section lists the people who are a part of this team. The names of all the engineers on the team should be listed here. People usually want to get in touch with an EM or TL when they have a question for a team so the engineering manager and technical lead should be specified in the "who are we" section.

How To Get In Touch:  Tell the audience how they can get in touch with your team via email, slack or other communication channels used at your company.

What We Own:  This section describes components, services, and user experiences the team owns. Be sure not to overwhelm the reader in the "what we own" section. Capture the name of the component or service, and include a short description. Consider linking to a more detailed document where a user can read and learn about the service/component if they are interested, i.e. design and architecture documents, user guides etc.

Team's Current OKRs (Objectives, Key Results) / Goals:  

This section shows objectives and key results the team is driving for in the current quarter. A few things to keep in mind as you are capturing your OKRs:

  • Keep your audience in mind: People outside of your team or group need to be able to read and understand the value of achieving the objective or key results.  Avoid writing objectives and key results in way that requires deep understanding of your team's area of focus.
  • Only the highest priority OKRs. Even though your team might be taking on some stretch goals you should only capture 3-5 Objectives that are the highest priorities for your team.

A team charter document helps your customers, your peers and your co-workers find out your team's mission, who your team members are, and your team's current priorities easily. It increases transparency across the organization and encourages teams to be clear about their focus areas.

Team Charter Template

All team charter documents serve the same purpose, although the specifics of what information is captured and how this information is represented varies widely from company to company. We created a team charter document template to help you get started. Please subscribe below to get a copy of our team charter template.