The Project Initiation Document (PID) is the most important document in the PRINCE2 project management method. It defines the project scope and identifies how the project will achieve its objectives. It puts the project on a solid foundation, a baseline that provides a place from which the project manager and project board can assess progress.
The PID is a living document which is updated and revised as necessary throughout the project.
The PID is usually the largest document in a PRINCE2 project. It contains the following parts:
- Project definition
One of the most important components of project management is defining what the project will achieve, its objectives, goals, and scope. The desired outcomes are identified and major steps to achieve those outcomes. This becomes the guiding light which leads the project manager along the journey.
- Project approach
The processes and procedures which will be used by the project to accomplish its objectives.
- Business case
This describes the justification for undertaking the project and the business goals it is intended to advance.
- Project management team structure
An organizational chart (or textual table) describing the structure of the project management team.
- Role descriptions
Descriptions of the roles and responsibilities of each member of the project management team.
- Quality management approach
The processes and procedures which will be employed to ensure the quality of the project’s final products or services are of acceptable quality to its customers, clients, or end users. The quality standards must be well defined, and quality control measurement procedures are determined. Quality assurance auditing requirements are formalized.
- Change control approach
Mid-project changes to the project plan must be actively managed, or they become monsters that eat the project alive. The policies and procedures relating to project changes are itemized within this section. This includes mid-project changes to the project schedule, budget, team, quality criteria, or any other item within the PID. When changes occur, the project manager deals with them according to this document.
- Risk management approach
Strong risk management is what sets good project managers apart. Megaprojects usually have significantly risk management departments which develop response plans to known risks. Smaller projects don’t normally have the budget for this, but some risk management is always prudent. This includes identifying risk events which affect the project goals, analyzing them for severity and probability, and developing response plans for the most important ones so that they can be implemented rapidly when needed.
- Communication management approach
Strong communication can result in successful projects even when things don’t run all that smoothly. This document involves the identification of all the project stakeholders and their communications needs. This includes the project team, project board, owners, investors, regulatory bodies, passive stakeholders, and so on.
- Project plan
This is the meat and potatoes of the PID. The project plan analyzes the resources available to the project, and produces a schedule and budget. It divides the project into tasks, and each task is assigned resources to carry out its function. It defines the management stages which define the overall project. It ensures the resources are available, and provides a time-based baseline upon which progress can be measured.
- Project controls
Controls are methods which ensure that the project stays within budget, schedule, or any other success criteria that have been identified. The tolerances must be previously defined, and the measurement and reporting of project progress is performed regularly according to the schedule defined by the PID.
- Tailoring of PRINCE2
The ways in which PRINCE2 will be tailored to the project are defined within the PID.
The PID is derived from the Project Brief, which is created by the project manager but approved by the executive. The PID becomes the implementation of the project definition outlined in the project brief.
Format and Presentation
There is no single prescribed format for the project initiation document. It could be a single document or a collection of many documents, as there are many components that could be created in a separate document (for example, the quality management approach or the risk management approach). It could also be a collection of items within a project management tool.
The PID is judged on the basis of the following quality criteria:
- The PID correctly represents the project.
- It shows a viable, achievable project that is in line with corporate, program management or customer strategies or overall program needs.
- The project management team structure is complete, with names and titles. All the roles have been considered and are backed up by agreed role descriptions. The relationships and lines of authority are clear. If necessary, the project management team structure shows to whom the project board reports.
- It clearly shows a control, reporting and direction regime that can be implemented, appropriate to the scale, risk and importance of the project to corporate, program management or the customer.
- The controls cover the needs of the project board, project manager and team managers and satisfy any delegated assurance requirements.
- It is clear who will administer each control.
- The project objectives and approaches are consistent with the organization’s social responsibility directive, and the project controls are adequate to ensure that the project remains compliant with such a directive.
- Consideration has been given to the format of the PID. For small projects a single document is appropriate. For large projects, it is more appropriate for the PID to be a collection of stand-alone documents. The volatility of each element of the PID should be used to assess whether it should be stand-alone (e.g. elements that are likely to change frequently are best separated out).