PROJECT MANAGEMENT: Project Initiation Document (PID)

This article explains the Project Initiation Document or PID in a practical way. After reading it, you will understand the basics of this powerful project management tool.

What is a Project Initiation Document (PID)?

A Project Initiation Document (PID) is one of the most important components of project management, which forms the foundation for a company project. It is a reference point during the entire project, for the client as well as for the project team.

In addition, the Project Initiation Document is a decision document, on the basis of which the mandate is implemented. Project Initiation Document bundles the information that is obtained by the starting of a project and initiatives from a project process in a Prince2 controlled environment. Project Initiation Document is a Prince2 concept; a project management method that focuses on the success and failure criteria within a project.


The Project Initiation Document bundles documentation into a logical reference work that collects all important information needed to start and run a project from a good foundation. After that, Project Initiation Document must be transferred to all stakeholders, including business sponsors. This forms the basis for the project management. The documentation from which the Project Initiation Document is composed include the business case in which the project’s justification can be found, the communication plan and the project plan. The Project Initiation Document also represents a detailed version of a start-up document, also called a Project Brief. Primarily, the Project Initiation Document is used for two purposes:

  1. Based on the information in the PID, the project management gives its commitment. When the green light is given, this means that the PID correctly describes which people, resources and budget are required for the project.
  2. Based on the information in the PID, the project management and project manager can monitor the progress of a project.


The Project Initiation Document is composed out of collected information and includes, among others, the following components:

  • Project goal(s); what do you want to achieve with the project?
  • Project size; how large is the project, how long does it take and how many people are involved?
  • Project organisation; who are involved in the project, what are their tasks, responsibilities and authority?
  • Limits and risks; what can cause a project to stagnate and are there risks related to the project?
  • Stakeholders; who has a stake in the success of the project?
  • Project checks and frame reporting; by carefully taking into account evaluation moments, it is clear to everyone what sample tests can be carried out during the process.

In addition, it is important that the Project Initiation Document also contains the following information:

  • The background and occasion of the project, which together provide information about the context.
  • The project organisational structure, which describes who has which management responsibility in the project.
  • The project quality plan, describing who controls the quality of the products to be delivered and how it will take place.
  • The total project planning, including the duration of all activities.
  • The exception process, which describes how exceptions are dealt with and the steps of the escalation procedure.
  • The risk log, including the measures that will be taken when there are unforeseen risks.
  • The documentation structure of the project, in which the encoding and storage of all documents and products to be provided by the project has been recorded in advance.


The primary purpose of the Project Initiation Document is to capture and record information needed to properly define and plan a project; thus forming the basis for managing and evaluating the overall success of the project. Once the PID has been approved by the project management, all information contained therein will no longer be modified.

In addition, the Project Initiation Document also includes the list of people who participate in project development from the start of the project. Their role and responsibilities are also found in it. However, the Project Initiation Document is not regularly updated during the project phases. Any revisions and updates that may prove necessary must be done at the end of each phase to include detailed milestones for the following steps. All members of the project team should contribute to the development of project components that are relevant to their role within the project. In addition, they need to all be kept updated on the entire scope of the project.


The last phase of writing the Project Initiation Document is approval, which does not only concern the project management. The Project Initiation Document also needs approval from other stakeholders, such as the Operations and Human Resources departments. It is therefore wise to involve all the other parties and/or departments in the information that is related to the Project Initiation Document, and give them the opportunity to give comments and make requests. The team leader of the PID has the task of gathering all the comments and then discussing them in a final meeting with the stakeholders and interested parties. Only then is the Project Initiation Document a fully-fledged document and ready to be presented to the project management, in the hope that the Project Initiation Document will be approved and that the financing for the project is granted.

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