Time spent on a PID is worthwhile.
Have you ever been part of a project where not everyone has the same view of where the project is heading?
This lack of clarity can breed confusion: People start pulling in different directions, building up unrealistic expectations, and harboring unnecessary worries and fears.
While it's normal as part of a project to put the detailed plans, controls and reporting mechanisms into place, how do you get everyone on the same page to start with?
This is accomplished by creating a Project Initiation Document (PID) – the top-level project planning document. In it, you bring together all of the information needed to get your project started, and communicate that key information to the project's stakeholders. With a well-put-together Project Initiation Document, you can let everyone understand where the project's heading from the outset.
Your Project Initiation Document does the following:
By creating a PID, you'll answer the questions: What? Why? Who? How? When?
You can also use a Project Charter instead of a Project Initiation Document for these purposes as they are very similar documents. However, a Project Charter usually has less detail. So a Project Initiation Document is more suited to projects where you have the resources to write a more detailed document.
The project management methodology that your organization uses may also determine whether you should use a Project Charter or a Project Initiation Document.
Although most project-driven organizations have their own templates for Project Initiation Documents, the information contained in those documents is often quite similar, despite variations in the terms used.
Here, we work through the most common sections, and look at the information that should be covered in each.
Start by downloading our free Project Initiation Document Checklist. Use this checklist to mark off each part of your PID as you complete it – either on your corporate template or on a PID that you construct from scratch.
Our checklist is for guidance only. In your situation, it may be appropriate to leave some items out and/or add others.
This section tells the reader what the project is seeking to achieve. In it, describe the problem that the project is seeking to solve, as well as a full definition of the project.
This section will typically cover the following topics:
What is the context of the project, and why is the work needed? Briefly describe the idea or problem, and discuss why this project is relevant and timely. The details will come later, so use this section to highlight briefly how this project came to be.
Build a business case to show why your project is going ahead. Describe the effect the project will have on the business, and support this with a detailed account of the risks that should be considered.
Describe how the project will be organized and managed. Identify reporting lines, and outline specific roles that will be filled. You need to be clear about staff roles so that you don't duplicate responsibilities, and so that everyone is clear about what's expected of them. If this is a long-term project, you may even consider developing job descriptions for team members.
Provide broad information about how the project will be implemented. Outline how the project will roll out by defining timelines, resources, and management stages. This is a high-level overview that will, as the project proceeds, be supported by more detailed project planning documents.
A Project Initiation Document is a guide to a project, clearly laying out the justification for a project, what its objectives will be, and how the project will be organized. This helps ensure that everyone knows what's going on right from the outset.
The amount of detail included should be sufficient for the reader to understand the basic purpose of the project and to determine, in principle, the overall feasibility of the project objectives and plan. The PID is supported by many detailed planning documents that may not be entirely completed by the time that the PID is prepared.
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