The Project Initiation Document

project initiation document

Often, producing a project initiation document may appear unnecessary when you have already received your client’s approval, completed your planning and secured your resources.

However, this document is fundamental to properly launch a project and carry it more smoothly towards success.

Let’s learn why in this article.

What is a project initiation document?

A project initiation document includes basic project information such as context, scope, and some other key general standards that the team and stakeholders stakeholders can refer to throughout the project.

A strong start is always important, no matter how simple or complex the work is.

The purpose of a project initiation document is to gather key planning information that will help guide the project in the right direction, gain approval from stakeholders and decision makers, and set a clear plan for deliverables.

Also, a project initiation document helps guide the team in the early stages to provide a successful start without adding too much extra work.

Without this type of document, a project is likely to be in danger of derailing due to lack of direction and lack of stakeholder involvement.

Also, don’t forget that this is a “living” document, meaning it can be updated and amended throughout the project lifecycle, if necessary.

How to create a project initiation document in 6 steps

The project manager’s duty is not only to manage a project up to completion, but also to ensure that teams and stakeholders are aligned on what needs to be done, by whom, and when.

The reason why is just as important, so everyone can get an understanding of the mission and keep in mind the overall criteria for success.

Thus, here’s how to create a project initiation document in 6 simple steps.

initiation document

1. Provide context

Here are some important questions to be answered in this first step:

  • Why is the client pursuing this project?
  • What is the problem to be solved?
  • What is the project about?
  • What are the company’s goals?
  • How would you define success?
  • Are there defined metrics that will measure success in the end?

This provides a clear outline of the strategic vision and goals, which will help keep the team focused on the expected outcomes.

2. Define project parameters

Information such as:

  • What is the budget for this project?
  • How is the budget distributed?
  • What does the history look like?
  • How do you picture collaboration and communication with your client?
  • What is the first goal the team will work toward?

3. Define specifications

In this case, your team needs to understand exactly what needs to be done and delivered for the project to be successful.

Here are the areas to be clarified in this step:

  • What is covered by the project scope what isn’t?
  • Are there some initial project requirements that have already been defined?
  • What are the project boundaries that the team should not cross?

4. Define your project breakdown structure and resource plan

To ensure that it is clear to the team how the end results are ultimately generated, it is key to break down the work into smaller pieces and show how the end results come together and who will be working on what and with whom.

This way, dependencies will become clear and the team can understand the overall responsibility of the project.

In other words, a Work Breakdown Structure is implemented in this step.

5. Define who does what and the processes

An important aspect of the project initiation document is the overall structure of the project team, both internal and external. Notably:

  • Who is working on the project team?
  • Who should be consulted in specific situations?
  • Who can provide final approval before addressing the client?

Setting this out will help avoid misunderstandings and provide insight into how processes work.

A great way to clarify these dependencies in the project is through a RACI chart that allows you to clearly identify “responsible, accountable, consulted, informed” in any given situation.

The RACI matrix allows you to bring structure and clarity to the roles that stakeholders have within a project.

6. Identify risks, assumptions, problems, and dependencies

Last but not least, be sure to include an overview of known risks and constraints when preparing your project initiation document.

Projects can be complex for a number of reasons, and it is always beneficial to think through and foresee some of the risks and issues that could emerge and develop mitigation strategies.

Some examples are:

  • Timelines that are too short or too long;
  • Expenditure caps;
  • Technical unknowns;
  • Complex stakeholder panorama.

After creating your project initiation document, it is important to share it with team members and all stakeholders, including those who will join the project at a later date.

This type of document is also a great starting point for check-ins and to make sure the team doesn’t get off track.

A project management software can help

Bottom line, a project initiation document serves as a guide to help the project manager and team go in the right direction ensuring that no information is discovered later creating problems, but all this information we have analyzed cannot be written on a sheet of paper. 

The drafting of this document is in fact the planning of the prearrenged version of the project which should be facilitated with a project management tool that similarly supports the project manager in the creation of the actual project.

With Twproject you can create a project with cost estimates, use of resources, predefined specifications and what is needed for the drafting of the document, which remains “hidden” from the general calculations, but which at the same time gives you the feasibility information in terms of time and resources. How useful would it be, in the estimate phase, to understand if you have the resources to carry out the project within the time frame you have set?

Twproject can do this for you.

Generate project initiation document with Twproject.

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