When you’re working religiously on a project, and one thing goes off track, you enter a thinking loop wondering where it went wrong. Did you misread the brief or did you not clarify the team about the requirement?
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At this point, you regret not documenting the process, because it’s the one thing you can refer to time and again whenever something feels wrong during the project.
Yes, documenting takes time, but it’s worth the satisfaction of having everything in one place and running the project smoothly. Moreover, if you don’t have a baseline, how will you measure the project progress? This is where a Project Initiation Document (PID) comes to the rescue.
Let’s see what a Project Initiation Document is and how you can create it to streamline project management and maintain efficacy.
A Project Initiation Document defines the project outline, scope of work, and the basic guidelines about the project which can be used while working to clarify the requirements with the team. It serves as an important document for the internal team and external stakeholders and makes it easier to communicate the intent and set the right course for the project.
When you’re working on a project, your team and your client’s requirements must match, and the project should start with everyone on the same page.
A Project Initiation Document guides the team from the beginning by giving a detailed outline of the context, background, and scope of the project. It also determines who’s responsible for what, so the work is done as per the decided timeline and without any confusion. What’s more, it also keeps your team motivated to achieve the project goals.
It can be used as a baseline if your team gets lost and needs to clarify details.
The importance of this document stands at its highest when you want to compare results or measure progress because this document highlights your working process, and what all you need to do to achieve the desired result.
Without such a document, there can be confusion stemming from miscommunication, which can ultimately hamper the project and the outcome.
By now, you understand the importance of a PID, but you must be wondering how you can start creating it.
The aim is not to create a complex document but one which includes only the essential information about the project necessary for seamless project execution. The PID will be elaborate, explaining the context of the project is the team to understand it in its entirety.
Here are 5 simple steps to create a Project Initiation Document:
This section typically addresses the problem that your team is helping the client solve. It also gives a background on the topic to provide context and discuss the ‘what’ aspect of the project. It includes the vision, goals, and objectives of the project so that the team can keep it in mind while devising the solutions and taking forward the project.
This section will include these topics:
Here, you need to discuss the idea of the project and why it’s necessary for the client. It provides a background of the problem and the potential steps that can be taken to solve it.
This is a brief section which talks about how the project came into being.
What is the expected result of this project, and what change will it bring to the client?
This section highlights why you’re doing this project and what the purpose is.
While you’re working on the project, there will be several micro-goals that will ultimately lead to the fulfillment of the macro or the final goal. This section should highlight the 4-5 objectives, which will help reach the final goal.
This section will cover the scope of work and what you’ll be delivering to the client in terms of reports, data, analytics, results, and services. The more specific you are, the better clarity it will hold from both sides. Moreover, it’s incredibly beneficial for maintaining realistic expectations with the client.
It’s also ideal that you include the date at which each deliverable will be given, so there’s a timely delivery from the team’s side and a scheduled arrival time for the client. This information can be used to monitor the milestones.
The project parameters mainly talk about all information you need to know before you draft an action plan or start working on it. This section helps maintain transparency about what you should and should not do.
Ideally, it should include the following things:
• Budget for the project
• Breakdown of resources and budget
• Timeline for each milestone and final delivery given by the client
• Metrics to be assessed to determine progress
• Constraints or difficulties, if any
This section will define the actual work that needs to be done, keeping in mind the context of the project. It’s important for the team so they can look at it whenever they feel stuck or if the client has questions.
Member roles and responsibilities are an essential part of a PID because eventually, it’s the team that is doing all the work. Without clarity, both the quality of work and the timeline can be compromised, ultimately affecting the outcome of the project.
This section must be defined with the maximum specification, since the more precise, the better.
So, what all do you need to define?
• Who is working on which deliverable?
• Who is responsible for tracking changes and getting it approved by the leader?
• Who will get the deliverable approved by the client?
• Who will do the accounting and budgeting?
• Who needs to be kept in the loop all the time?
• Who should be consulted in case of problems or questions?
You can create a flowchart so that the demarcation and duties are laid out clearly. This will avoid confusion and ensure that the work is done by the assigned person at the appointed time effectively.
A similar chart should be made in case of external team responsibilities like who will approve the deliverables from the client’s side, who should be approached for any problems, and so on. It’s better to have all of this discussed in the document, so there are no overlaps during execution.
In this section, you need to discuss what effect this project will bring on the business and if there are any risks involved which need to be cleared out beforehand. There can be unforeseen circumstances not under your control, and for this reason, you need to discuss mitigation strategies.
Here’s what you should include in this section:
• Benefits you expect to deliver during and after the completion of the project
• Why was this particular method chosen over others to carry forward the project
• Project cost breakdown and any other financing information
• Cost-benefit analysis: How will the expenses balance out the benefits
• Potential risks in the project
• Mitigation strategies to handle the risks
• Contingency plans in case the risks cannot be handled
• Processes for prevention and monitoring of risks in the first place
Now that all of your planning has been done, it’s time to work out the action plan. This will define your working schedule. All the details about the execution part will be included in this section which will give your team and the client a tentative blueprint of how the project is going to proceed.
This is the final part of your PID and will talk about the action plan, which will ultimately lead to the desired goal. You can use a Google sheet to indicate everything from when the first assignment will be submitted to how and when the success will be measured.
A Project Initiation Document is like a guide for your project, which helps your team start in the right direction and ensure that no concealed information gets uncovered later and creates problems.
You can also ask your client to sign this PID to formalize things further. It will come in handy if there are new stakeholders or team members involved so that everything doesn’t have to be explained from scratch.
It also avoids situations like ‘I thought you were handling this part,’ ensuring that everyone knows when and what to do. In the end, a PID makes for professional project execution with clearly defined goals and responsibilities, so the outcome is superior in quality.