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Project management

How to create a project initiation document and why

Allie Kashkash 6 min read
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If you’re in the initiating stage of any project, you know how important planning your steps is. This is the point that you understand what you need to do, make sure everyone on your team knows their part, and set goals and timelines before you dive in. Creating a project initiation document is a necessary step in this process. gives you the opportunity to not only create your project initiation document inside our platform but also make sure you’re staying on track with our project management software.

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What is a project initiation document?

A project initiation document also known as a PID, is a document that project managers create and complete before beginning a new project.

A project initiation document includes the project scope, business value, goals, potential hurdles and risks, criteria for project success, and other valuable information related to the specific project.

A PID gives project managers an overall view of a project which can also be shared with others involved (be it members of their team or important stakeholders). It forces project managers to understand the aims of a project and make sure that they have everything set up in order to guarantee success.

 Why is creating a project initiation document important?

In the hustle and bustle of everyday work, it may seem like a project initiation document is a waste of time and not very important. This is a mistake. By investing the time to create a PID, project managers make sure that all members of the team and project are on the same page (literally).

PIDs can be dynamic and change throughout the project lifecycle if necessary. They are a great resource for checking in to make sure the project is on track and also a good tool for new team members if they come on board in the middle of a project.

Using a project initiation template 

We recommend making a project initiation document for each and every project that your team undertakes. The most effective way to do this is by using (or creating) a project initiation template.

A template is the base of your project initiation document and includes the various elements that you should have in each document. This may change slightly based on your field, the scope of your projects, timelines, etc. Once you create your first PID, creating the next documents will be simple, as you’ll already have created your template and base.

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What should my project initiation document include?

A good project initiation document includes the following things:

  • An overview of the project. What is the context of the project? This is where you should add the who, what, why, and how, of how this project will occur. This is also the place to add resources, links to products including their descriptions, project briefs, etc.
  • Define project parameters. Project parameters include budget and its breakdown, timeline for the project, client collaboration, and deadlines along the project pipeline.
  • Work breakdown. As the project manager, you are probably responsible for allocating the different parts of the project to team members. In this section, make it clear who is working on what and in what capacity. Make sure the work assignments look reasonable to make sure no one has too much (or too little) to handle.
  • Project goals. Team members will find it easier to tackle a project if they know what the end goals are, even if they are only one small step of the plan. Write down the project goals and how you will know if you’ve reached them.

To learn more about project best practices check out our comprehensive guide on project management.

 PID best practices

Along with defining the project clearly and writing down the important information needed, make sure to follow these PID best practices:

  1. Confirm objectives with all stakeholders. While you might think that the objectives of a project are clear, make sure to get all clients or stakeholders involved on the same page. You can do this by sharing your PID draft and receiving feedback.
  2. Confirm deliverables and scope. Avoid scope creep and make sure you are sure of the exact scope of a project before you get started. Writing everything down in the PID will help with this.
  3. Identify challenges within the PID. Most projects encounter at least a few hiccups along the way. By identifying potential risks in advance, you’ll be able to avoid them or at a minimum be prepared to handle them when they come up.
  4. Share your project initiation document with all involved parties. A PID is a valuable tool, but only if shared with everyone who is relevant! Make sure to share your document and have it available for review whenever a team member needs it.

Stay organized and set goals to create the ultimate PID with

Now that you’ve realized the importance of creating a project initiation document in the project initiation stage, it’s time to get started.

Create your PID itself within our workdocs (don’t forget to save it as a template for future use). Then link the relevant sections to your project boards, so you can get a visual overview of your project and make sure that you’re staying on track both in terms of timeline and your goals. Do this using our timeline feature, Kanban boards, and project management templates.

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Frequently asked questions

What is a project initiation document? 

A project initiation document is an important step of the project initiation phase of a project. It includes a breakdown of a project including important information, scope, milestones, budgets, task allocation, and more. PIDs are used both internally and externally in an organization.

Start writing your PID now with

Say goodbye to writing your PID in one document and planning your project on another platform. With Work OS, you can organize everything in one place, making sure that you’re on target to complete your project on time and smash your goals.

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