Arguably the PID is the must do document for a successful project. Without it a project will quickly lose direction, scope creep will dog the project from day one and budget and time overruns will be extremely likely.
Read this how to guide to learn the purpose, and CONTENTS of the Project Initiation Document. At the end of the guide we will provide a link so you can download a FREE PID template with hits, tips and example text that you can use for your project.
The PID defines the project and forms the basis for its management and the assessment of its overall success. The PIDs primary purposes are:
for the project and will not be changed. It will be referred to whenever a major decision is taken about the project and will be used at the project conclusion to measure success. For example, it will help answer: was the project managed successfully, has it delivered the outcomes and outputs required by the sponsor, user and customer.
Although the PID will not be subject to change, supporting documentation will be dynamic, changing in response to the needs of the project, end of stage reviews and any changes approved by the Project Board.
The Project Initiation Document expands on the information in the Project Brief, and is used to identify the key elements of the proposed project. The
is responsible for drawing up the PID in active and ongoing consultation with the project sponsor.
Project Managers should aim to produce a relatively brief and focussed document which is supported by more detailed documentation which can be made available to the Programme/Project Board as appropriate.
The project manager is responsible for ensuring that the document meets the agreed quality standards for the PID including organisation branding and formatting rules.
The contents of the PID
This is the typical contents of the PID. Contents will vary between industries, project management methods and between organisations. READ ON FOR A LINK TO A FREE PID TEMPLATE.
- Title - [Project Name]
- Date - [use appropriate date format]
- Reference - a unique reference ID
- Version no. - [e.g. 0.1, 0.2 to 1.0 approved version]
- Author & revision record
- Approvals - record of reviews and approvals.
- Distribution - who received the document.
This section should give the reader a quick overview of the project so they understand which part of the Business Strategy
or Program Plan it relates to, which departments and technology areas are involved, and what are the the key activities in the project.
This section provides the rationale for the project and addresses some of the following questions.
- Why is this project being undertaken?
- Does it build on previous projects? What is the significant history of the project? What lessons have been learned and what are the implications?
- Is it a project which is being implemented to support another existing project?
- Is it a new aspect of work for the Business Strategy?
- What is the planned ROI (high-level)? This can link to the Business Case.
- What are the key touch points?
For most projects this section should be relatively brief, perhaps half a page. If a Project Brief has already been completed, it should provide the key information included in this section.
This section identifies the key project objectives – what specifically will this project achieve? It should clearly link to the Program Objectives. It is likely to include active verbs such as replace, revise, provide, secure, create etc. It will reference Business Case, which is usually a separate document.
Scope and exclusions
Describe the major areas, deliverables, functions, and processes to be addressed during the project. This section could include a high-level work breakdown structure
Provide a complete list of the required deliverables/products/outcomes that the project must create or acquire. For a large project or program a number of deliverables might be delivered which can be specified in this section.
Identify other groups or projects which have natural interfaces with this one and which need to be considered and consulted. The section should also set out any dependencies between aspects of this project and other activities within or outside the project.
Outline the assumption
s being made if the project is to be delivered to time and quality within the agreed resources. List anything that you have assumed when writing the PID even where you have no evidence to confirm. This should include assumption
s such as any anticipated legislation, other projects delivering to time and quality or anticipated appointments to key positions.
A definition, in measurable terms, of what must be done for the outputs of the project to be acceptable to the programme sponsor and client
Monitoring and Evaluation
This section should document how the project will be monitored and evaluated. For example:
- How feedback will be collected on the value of this project by users of the products.
- The monitoring and evaluation methods the Project Sponsor will use to determine that the project has been delivered to specification and has had the intended impact
- The time scales and key dates for collecting the above information
- How, when and to whom the feedback and the monitoring and evaluation findings will be reported.
Initial Risk Log
Include the key risks to the successful delivery of the project. These should be specific to this project and not just a reiteration of the risks common to all projects. This section may include a table and will have typical risk register
headings e.g. ID, risk description, impact, likelihood, proximity, mitigating actions, owner etc.
Project Organisation Structure
This section should include an organisation structure for the project, preferably as a typical organisation diagram. Also include the key roles and responsibilities. Some PIDs may include a RACI
in a separate section.
There may be two aspects of communication within a project: the first focused on the internal communication and reporting with regard to the delivery of the project, and the second focused on communication both internal and external about the nature of the project, its objectives and deliverables.
Internal Project Communication
Set out the process, timings and governance for internal project communication. An example could be:
[The project manager will be the central hub of all communication within the project. All internal stakeholders
to the project should pass information through the project manager who will maintain an effective audit trail.
Within the project there will be a series of regular progress reporting developed to meet the needs of all recipients and to include progress, risks, issues, and budget spend.]
External Project Communication
This section will not necessarily apply to all projects, but all projects are about delivering a change (something that was not previously there), for a business reason. To realise the business benefits a communication strategy will be needed, be that for internal staff impacted by the change or for external parties.
The plan could include: (amend as necessary)
- Communications Objectives
- The Audiences – both internal and external
- The Key Messages to be communicated to each audience
- The Channels of Communication
- An Activity Time line
- A Media Plan
- Evaluation method
There are two aspects of quality management that can be considered with the PID: the first focused on securing high quality project management and the second focused on ensuring that deliverables are produced to scope, time and quality.
Quality Management of the Project
For some projects quality of project delivery may be provided through pre-existing governance provided by program, portfolio management or a project management office. In these cases this section may just require a reference to pre-existing policies and procedures.
Responsibility for checking that all procedures have been correctly followed in preparing this PID rests with: [Insert Name] Senior Project Manager
Responsibility for checking and signing off this PID and for ensuring it follows the PID guidance rests with: [Insert Name] Program Manager
Responsibility for ongoing monitoring and supervision to ensure that ongoing project management complies with the agreed procedures and processes rests with [Insert Name] of the Programme Office
Quality Management of the deliverables
In this section document what the quality standards, quality assurance process and quality checking are for each project deliverable.
Ensuring the quality of deliverables is a shared responsibility across the project team
and is ongoing throughout the life cycle of the project. Overall responsibility for ensuring the deliverables meet the agreed quality standards rests with: [Insert Name] Project Sponsor.
For each deliverable specify:
- Deliverable: The deliverable title and ID.
- Quality standards: The standards against which the deliverable will be measured.
- Quality assurance: The processes needed to secure high quality deliverable.
- Quality checking: The quality checks that will be made to ensure that the final deliverables meet the expected standards.
List the project milestones
(key points in a project life cycle). They might be target dates that must be met or delivery of important work packages or markers of progress. This section will likely contain a table with two columns one for the milestone description and the other for the milestone date. There may also be a third column for a milestone reference or unique ID.
This section documents the resources - human and machine, that are required for the project. A description of all of the Roles and responsibilities will be included along with the named resources needed, their skill set, when they are needed, how long for and the associated costs. Get a Resource Planning Template
Ideally this section will contain a resource histogram. A resource histogram is a bar chart that shows the amount of time that a particular resource is scheduled for over the project duration. This is hugely useful for resource planning and most project planning software will have reports or views which show a histogram for each resource.
Project Tolerance and Exception Process
Recommended Project Tolerance
and a brief confirmation of the Exception Procedure
to be followed in the event of a deviation from the approved plan which is forecast to exceed Tolerance (Project and Stage). Refer also to the Change Control Process
that will be followed for this project. See example cost and time tolerances
Record of amendments to the PID
Keep a record of the amendments made to each version of the PID. This section may form part of a header/document information page, or if long may be more suited to an appendix.
Deliverable / work package specifications
Include the specifications for the work packages and project deliverables. For example, a unique reference for each deliverable, title, purpose, composition, format, owner, quality criteria, location/storage.
Financial / Budget requirements
Document the budget, forecast, run rates, cost model as appropriate for the project.
Provide a detailed project schedule. For example, a Microsoft Project plan may be attached here or referenced in this section. Get ready made Microsoft Project Plans
This may also include detailed team plans and resource plans. Get a Resource plan Template