Project Initiation Document


The purpose of the Project Initiation Document is to define the project, in order to form the basis for its management and an assessment of its overall success. The Project Initiation Document gives the direction and scope of the project and (along with the Stage Plan) forms the ‘contract’ between the Project Manager and the Project Board.

The three primary uses of the Project Initiation Document are:

  1. Ensure that the project has a sound basis before asking the Project Board to make any major commitment to the project
  2. Act as a base document against which the Project Board and Project Manager can assess progress, issues and ongoing viability questions
  3. Provide a single source of reference about the project so that people joining the ‘temporary organisation’ can quickly and easily find out what the project is about, and how it is being managed.

The Project Initiation Document is a living product in that it should always reflect the current status, plans and control of the project. Its component products will need to be updated and re-baselined, as necessary, at the end of each stage to reflect the current status of its constituents parts. The version of the Project Initiation Document that was used to gain authorization for the project is preserved as the basis against which performance will later be assessed when closing the project.


There follows a content list for the Project Initiation Document. Note that the first two (project definition and project approach) are extracted from the Project Brief.

Project definition

Explaining what the project needs to achieve. It should include:

  • Background
  • Project objectives and desired outcomes
  • Project Scope and exclusions
  • Constraints and assumptions
  • The user(s) and other known interested parties
  • Interfaces

Project approach

To define the choice of solution that will be used in the project to deliver the business option selected from the Business Case, taking into consideration the operational environment into which the solution must fit

Business Case

Describing the justification for the project based on estimated costs, risks and benefits

Project management team structure

A chart showing who will be involved with the project

Role descriptions

For the project management team and any other key resources

Quality Management Strategy

Describing the quality techniques and standards to be applied, and the responsibilities for achieving the required quality levels

Configuration Management Strategy

Describing how and by whom the project’s products will be controlled and protected

Risk Management Strategy

Describing the specific risk management techniques and standards to be applied, and the responsibilities for achieving an effective risk management procedure

Communication Management Strategy

To define the parties interested in the project and the means and frequency of communication between them and the project

Project plan

Describing how and when the project’s objectives are to be achieved, by showing the major products, activities and resources required on the project. It provides a baseline against which to monitor the project’s progress stage by stage

Project controls

Summarizing the project-level controls such as stage boundaries, agreed tolerances, monitoring and reporting

Tailoring of PRINCE2

A summary of how PRINCe2 will be tailored for the project


  • Project Brief
  • Discussions with user, business and supplier stakeholders for input on methods, standards and controls.

Format and presentation

The Project Initiation Document could be:

  • A single document
  • An index for a collection of documents
  • A document with cross-references to a number of other documents
  • a collection of information in a project management tool Quality criteria
  • The Project Initiation document correctly represents the project
  • It shows a viable, achievable project that is in line with corporate strategy or overall programme 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 says to whom the Project Board reports
  • It clearly shows a control, reporting and direction regime that can be completed, appropriate to the scale, risk and importance of the project to corporate and programme management
  • The controls cover the needs of the Project Board, Project Manager and Team Managers and satisfy any delegated assurance requirement
  • It is clear who will administer each control
  • The project objectives, approach and strategies are consistent with the organisations corporate 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 Project Initiation Document. For small projects a single document is appropriate. For Large projects it is more appropriate for the Project Initiation Documentation to be a collection of stand-alone documents. The volatility of each element in the Project Initiation Documentation should be used to assess whether it should be stand-alone, e.g. elements that are likely to change frequently are best separated out.

Project Initiation