Project Initiation Document – What is a Project Initiation Document
Project Initiation Document – What is a Project Initiation Document

If you are preparing for the PRICE2 exam, most probably you have heard the project initiation document. Because it is a PRICE2 concept. Many experts have difficulties in creating a Project Initiation Document before to start a project. Assume that you have received sign-off from your client, planned your resources and tasks and you are ready to start your project. Now everything is under your control, you can assign responsibilities to the team members and organize resources to get ahead of schedule. In order to start your project successfully, you need to create a project initiation document. In this article, we will discuss the basics of this important document for project management.

What is a Project Initiation Document?



A project initiation document is a critical document that involves basic information such as project scope, success criteria, and collaboration. It provides a single source of reference about the project so that involved people can easily understand what the project is about. It forms the foundation for a project.

Simply put, the project initiation document answers below fundamental questions about the project;

  • What is the purpose of the project?
  • Why is this project important?
  • What is the duration of the project?
  • Who are the key project stakeholders?
  • Who will be involved in the project team and what are their responsibilities?

No matter what type of your project is, you need a PID to guide your team and start your project successfully.

How to Create a Project Initiation Document?

As a project manager, it is your duty to guide your project team and make sure that everybody understood what needs to be done by whom. You need to provide enough details for the team to remove the obstacles. Also, it is important that the team is aware of the mission and the success criteria. Therefore context is very important and it should be established at the beginning. Now, let’s discuss the basic steps to create a workable PID.

Basic Steps to Create a PID



In order to create a workable project initiation document, we need to focus on the context, responsibilities, parameters, and risks.

1. Define the Context 

You need to provide the context at the beginning. Different projects have different contextual issues that cover both the internal and external environment.

Provide a project summary and write a high-level mission statement and describe the vision, goals, desired outcomes and objectives of the project. This will guide your team during the next phases of your project.

While providing the context, ask yourself below questions;

  • Why is the client want this project?
  • Which problems will be solved with the help of this project?
  • What are the objectives?
  • Which metrics can be used to define success?
  • What are the assumptions and constraints of the project?

2. Provide Important Parameters

Defining important project parameters is as important as defining the context and the scope of the project. Project parameters include budget, duration, milestones, constraints, and targets.

3. Define Project Specifics

You need to provide specific information regarding the project deliverables. This will guide your team to understand what needs to be done to accomplish the project.

While defining the project specifics, ask yourself below questions;

  • What is included in the project scope?
  • What are the basic requirements of the project?
  • What are the boundaries of the project?

Defining project specifics will help your team to understand the essential deliverables and the expectations for the project.

4. Define the Work Breakdown Structure 

Create a low-level Work Breakdown Structure and demonstrate the main work streams. Break the project work into smaller and logical sections and show how the deliverables come together and who is responsible for what.

You can use a graphical chart and number each item to represent the structure.



5. Describe the Project Management Team

A project initiation document should include necessary information regarding the overall project team structure both internal and external. Describe the project team and the role of each team member. Describe what is the reporting hierarchy between them.

This will help you to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts during communication. It is a good idea to create a RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) Matrix to demonstrate who is responsible for what and who needs to be kept in the loop.

6. Risks, Assumptions, and Issues

No matter how small or large a project is, all the projects involve risks and constraints. Therefore while creating a Project Initiation Document, you need to include an overview of known risks and constraints. This will help your team to be aware of the risks, issues, and constraints that the project will face.

Below are some of the examples of risks and constraints;

Summary



In this article, we focus on the most important phases of a project initiation document rather than providing a template. You can create your own template by adding or removing sections described in this article. Note that the project charter and the project initiation document are similar documents. Therefore you can use one of them instead of the other. However, the project initiation document includes a bit more detail than the project charter.

Once you have created the Project Initiation Document, don’t forget to share it with your team. It will be great for an internal check.

Are you using Project Initiation Documents for your projects? What do you think about the sections that a Project Initiation Document should include? Please let me know your opinions regarding the concept.

See Also

Difference Between Project Proposal and Project Charter

Project Charter (Project Definition Document)

External References

Project Initiation Documentation Template

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