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What is a Project Initiation Document (PID) in Project Management?

A project initiation document (PID) has several very important project planning functions in a PRINCE2 environment. The PRINCE2 project initiation document is an essential high-level plan that gives crucial context needed for stakeholder buy-in and project team engagement. Create it, reference it, and update it throughout the project to get as much value from it as possible.


What is a project initiation document?

A PID is a planning document or documentation that defines the project scope, its business case, risks, and other crucial details.

The purpose of a project initiation document is to gather key planning information that will help steer the project in the right direction, gain approval from stakeholders and decision-makers, and establish a clear plan for project delivery.

Without a project initiation document, a project risks being derailed due to a lack of direction and a lack of engagement from stakeholders. Your project management PID is also a living document — meaning that it can be updated and modified over the project life cycle as necessary.

What goes into a project initiation document (PID)?

A standard project initiation document template and checklist includes a few key sections. These sections will give wider context to the project, set out goals and protocols, and act as a reference for the project team and stakeholders.

  • Project definition: An overview of the project’s scope and objectives. This section should contain details to understand exactly what the project aims to achieve and why.

  • Project approach: The project approach section of your project initiation document should articulate what will be done and how it will serve the project’s goals.

  • Business case: This is where you justify the project and explain how it advances the wider business goals of the organization or portfolio.

  • Roles and responsibilities: The main responsibilities of your project team should be articulated here. Who is going to be responsible for what over the project’s duration?

  • Risk management plan: In this part of your project initiation document, identify and define potential project risks. Lay out plans to address these risks, should they arise.

  • Communication plan: How and when will stakeholders and project sponsors receive updates and other communications during the project? These protocols should be established in this section.

  • Project plan: Now that you’ve explained the what, who, and when of your project you need to explain how your project team plans to get it all done. Describe how your team will achieve the goals and objectives set out in earlier sections.