PID - Project Initiation Document

PID stands for Project Initiation Document. The PID forms the basis for the management of a project.
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 hints, tips and example text that you can use for your project.

The purpose of the Project Initiation Document (PID)

The PID defines the project and forms the basis for its management and the assessment of its overall success. The PIDs primary purposes are:

  • To ensure that the project has a sound basis before asking the Program/Project Board to make any major commitment to the project.
  • To act as the base document against which the Program/Project Board and Project Manager can assess progress, change management issues and ongoing viability questions.
When approved by the Program/Project Board this document will provide the baselinefor 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 composition of the PID covers the fundamental questions about the project
  • What the project is aiming to achieve?
  • Why it is important? What is the Business Case?
  • What is the budget?
  • What is the project scope?
  • Who is going to be involved in managing the project and what are their responsibilities?
  • Who are the project stakeholders?
  • How and when will the project be delivered?
  • How will risk be managed?
  • How will quality be managed?

Key information about the PID

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 project manager is responsible for drawing up the PID in active and ongoing consultation with the project sponsor.
Members of the project team should contribute to the development of sections which are relevant to their role within the project and should be made aware of the totality of the project.
Project Managers should aim to produce a relatively brief and focused 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 organization 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 organizations. READ ON FOR A LINK TO A FREE PID TEMPLATE.

Document information

  • 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.

Project Description

Project summary

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.

Project Objectives

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 (WBS).

Example WBS:
example of a WBS showing project scope
Get a template for a graphical Work Breakdown Structure

Get a template for a Work Breakdown Structure in Excel

Project Deliverables

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 produced which can be specified in this section. This section may include also links or references to each product’s Product Description.

Example table format:

Deliverable ID Deliverable title Deliverable description Delegate pack & venue guide 250 gsm, 20 pages, 2 color, stapled booklet, 4 color cover. Delegate pack cover design work 4 color cover, logo with library image HT-027-12-TIFF, and training title.


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.
Deliverable ID Deliverable title Deliverable description Delegate pack & venue guide 250 gsm, 20 pages, 2 color, stapled booklet, 4 color cover. Delegate pack cover design work 4 color cover, logo with library image HT-027-12-TIFF, and training title.
See example job descriptions for project managers


Outline the assumptions 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 assumptions such as any anticipated legislation, other projects delivering to time and quality or anticipated appointments to key positions.

Acceptance Criteria

Describe in measurable terms the criteria that Project Sponsor will use to evaluate and accept or reject the project deliverables and outputs. This might include conditions that are not related to products like delivery by a certain date.

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.

Project Delivery

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.
Description Likelihood Impact Mitigating Actions
Inability to recruit skilled procurement Low Very High Involve retained recruitment consultant to source team members. Consider using consultants on fixed term contracts.
Technology solution is unable to deliver required results Medium High Complete a pilot project against most business critical requirements. Consider using Agile methods to deliver working product in Sprints.
Additional capital expenditure may be required in addition to that approved Medium Medium Monitor project spend as per the project methodology. Report on spend bi-weekly to the Project Board. Assign PMO Director to support Project Manager in cost control.

Project organization Structure

This section should include an organization structure for the project, preferably as a typical organization diagram. Also include the key roles and responsibilities. Some PIDs may include a RACI in a separate section.

Communication Plan

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.
The table below may also be helpful:
Description of communication Timings e.g. monthly Audience Creator/author Sign-off authority
Project progress reports Weekly Project Sponsor, Risk Manager, Change Manager, project team Project Manager Program Manager
Highlight Reports Monthly Project Board Project Manager Program Manager
Training plan 3 months prior to go live Users and department managers Change Manager & training manager Project Sponsor

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
Example table:
Description of communication Timings e.g. monthly Audience Creator/author Sign-off authority
Marketing bulletin to existing customers 2 months prior to go live and at go live Existing customers and their account managers Marketing Manager Project Sponsor, Marketing Director
New product pages on website At go live All website users Marketing Manager web content Project Sponsor, Marketing Director

Quality Management

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.

Example text:

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 processes and quality checking will be for each project deliverable.

Example text:

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 a high quality deliverable.
  • Quality checking: The quality checks that will be made to ensure that the final deliverables meet the expected standards.
Deliverable ID and title Quality standards Quality assurance Quality checking
0034 Web pages Follow existing branding specification.

Meet Accessibility compliance guidelines.

Meet browser compatibility policy.
Follow publishing review process.

Pre-approved suppliers only.
Web change advisory board via unit test, user acceptance testing and go live testing.

Project Milestones

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.
Milestone Milestone target date
Project Kick off dd/mm/yyyy
Design phase dd/mm/yyyy TO dd/mm/yyyy
Build starts dd/mm/yyyy
Start User Acceptance Testing dd/mm/yyyy

Resource Plan

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.

Example work package specification table:
Deliverable ID & Title Purpose Composition Format & location Owner Quality criteria
0035 Online document repository Storage of project docs. Project area in Sharepoint


projects/[project name]/

Project Manager Folders for each phase. Doc checklist completed.

Financial / Budget requirements

Document the budget, forecast, run rates, cost model as appropriate for the project.

Detailed schedules

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.

Download our FREE PID template with hits, tips and example text that you can use for your project.

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