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Project Initiation Documentation

Project Initiation Documentation

Every project a business takes on has an important role in running a successful company. This is why it is crucial for businesses to pay attention to all projects. Whether internal or as a service for another business and external stakeholders. There are many different factors in the delivery of a successful project – one of the most crucial would be the project initiation documentation. This document is also sometimes referred to simply as the PID. A unique one should be compiled for every project that a business takes on – no matter how big or small.

Many project managers and business owners overlook the role that the PID plays in their day-to-day projects. Without thorough planning and the right documentation to reference; a project can quickly spiral out of control, deadlines can be missed, and the company’s reputation may suffer irreparable damage.

In this post, we’ll take a look at what exactly the project initiation document is, what purpose it serves, and what an effective one should include.


Project Initiation Documentation – What Is It?

Let’s start by looking at what exactly a PID is. For many companies, this is one of the most important elements of a project. It contains all of the static data that related to specific projects being worked on. Static data is data that will go unchanged during the entire course of the project. Dynamic documents (containing project data that changes) will be added to the file from time-to-time as well.

The goal here is to ensure a solid plan can be laid out as the foundation of a project and that everyone involved has a central solution that they can refer to at any time. So that everyone is literally on the same page (or pages).


The Role Of The Project Document

When a project initiation document has been compiled and approved by the appropriate stakeholders, the document will serve as a manual to everyone involved in the project.

For this reason, the primary role of the project initiation document would be to assure that the project can be successful – taking all aspects of success into account.

Various types of information are added to the PID, as the specific documents that make up this particular file need to tell everyone what needs to be done next. At any given point along the project’s execution phase.

It is important to note that the project initiation document is not just a project planning tool. Once approved in the planning phase, the PID ensures that everything is delivered as planned throughout the rest of the process.

The project initiation document isn’t just one document either. Instead, this should be an entire file made up of multiple documents – each having their own role. Assisting the delivery team in reaching the bigger picture and achieving the project goals in a minimal amount of time.
As hinted at previously, there are two different types of document in a PID.

Static Project Document Files

Static files are put together and usually printed out during the project’s planning phase. The content of these documents tends to stay the same throughout the entire project. They provide a means of measuring success, ensuring every team member knows their role and whether errors have occurred within the project’s scope.

Dynamic Project Document Files

Static files are documents that will not be part of the planning phase, but rather added to the file as you progress along the timeline. Whenever a task is finished, for example, a report can be printed out with comprehensive details of the task, what was done, and if any particular issues were faced. Dynamic files contain a lot of information that can’t be predicted, and so cannot be put together in advance.

It should also be noted that a project initiation document is also often used for quality assessment. After a project has been completed, project managers can go back to the PID and take a good look at all static and dynamic files from the project. This will help the project manager identify any pitfalls that can be avoided in future projects or effective practises to be adopted.


Structuring A Project Initiation Document

A PID should answer the important questions related to a project you are planning. When these questions are answered in a central document, there is much less of a drain on the project manager’s time. This means more time can be spent on ensuring the successful delivery of a project.
While each project is unique, with specific targets and goals, there is a general structure that can be followed. This can help speed up the process of getting your project initiation documentation in place.

Download a free project initiation documentation template to get you started.


Questions To Ask Before Setting Up The PID

Before you and your team start to compile a PID for an upcoming project, it is important that you ask yourself a couple of questions.

These will help you get some clarity around:

  1. What the project is about
  2. What your goals are
  3. What operations need to be executed

The questions you need to ask are:

  • Is there a specific reason for taking on the project?
  • What is the ultimate goal?
  • Do you need to improve an existing operation or deliver a new one?
  • When do you need to start and when does everything need to be completed by?
  • How should the project be delivered and at what locations will the project be executed?
  • Who is responsible for overseeing the project, and implementing tasks that will help reach the primary and secondary goals?
  • Are there any risks involved in operations needed to execute the project’s goals?
  • Are you aware of the costs required to carry out all operations involved in the project?

When you’re able to answer all of these questions confidently, then setting up the project initiation document will be easier, quicker, and the end result will be more accurate.


How To Structure Your PID

Project Documents

After you have answered the questions from the previous section, then the next step is to start setting up your documents. As mentioned earlier, each of the projects you take on will be unique – but if you follow this template, then things will be much easier for the entire team.

The order the documents should be in is as follows. Scroll down for a more comprehensive explanation.

  1. Document Information
  2. Summary
  3. Organisation Structure
  4. Communication Structure And Plan
  5. Project Goals And Milestones
  6. Resource Utilisation
  7. Financial Information


Always Start With A Page That Provides The Document Information.

This should include the project title, appropriate dates related to the project, and perhaps a reference number that you will use internally whenever you need to look up the project’s documentation.

You might also want to add all authors of the document to the document information page, along with a record of approvals and amendments. Some people also prefer to add a list of the people who will receive the project initiation document upon distribution.

Next Is The Summary.

The first part of the PID itself should be related to the project. Add a short summary and then go into the purpose of the project. Remember the questions we mentioned in the previous section? This is the page where you can add these questions, along with their answers.

Be sure to specify the objectives, along with a breakdown of the work that needs to be done. Specify who the client is and ensure the page holds details of their expectations.

At this time, it would also be a good idea to add how the project will be monitored and how work should be delivered. This will make sure all team members know who to contact if they have questions, as well as how (and where) assignments should be sent off to.

Organisation Structure

The project’s organisation structure essentially lists out who is placed in which roles. This is usually presented as a diagram that lists team members, tasks, responsibilities, and then prioritises them according to importance.

Communication Structure And Plan

Communication is essential to a successful project, so be sure that everyone involved in the project knows exactly how communication will work. The PID should hold details related to both internal communication and external communication. Explain how team members will be communicating with each other and tell them how they will be communicating with third-parties, including the client whose project you are working on.

Project Goals And Milestones

Even though there is one ultimate goal for each project, it’s important to break the goal up into multiple milestones that need to be reached. Clearly specify each of the milestones that need to be achieved for the project to be successful. Be detailed in this section – add names of those who are responsible for specific tasks so that they know where they fit in.

Resource Utilisation

Each of the projects that your business takes on requires some types of resources in order to conduct certain operations. This may include both human-based resources, such as a company to whom some of the tasks need to be outsourced too, or machine-related resources, which may include, for example, a piece of software that is needed for a specific task.

Financial Information

It is useful to have a complete overview of the project’s finances. Provide details on the budget – not only the overall budget but try to specify the budget for certain tasks. This will help avoid team members going over budget in order to get a task done faster. Also, include a forecast of the finances related to the project.

The project initiation document should be compiled in an easy-to-read way and a format (if not printed) that can be opened and viewed by all of the team members.



Before starting with a new project, the entire team, including the board overseeing the project should come together for some planning. This stage should involve compiling the project initiation document, a series of forms and documents that hold valuable information about the project at hand. A PID is instrumental in ensuring the success of every project. It helps with monitoring progress, provides a central resource for all collaborators to refer to and acts as a roadmap from where the project is and where it needs to be next.

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