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The content of a PID

Now you are aware of the purpose of the Project Initiation Document (PID), let’s look at what it should include.

Below are descriptions of some typical sections you can expect to find in a PID. However, there is not one ‘right’ format or way these should be presented; the sections we have divided it into below describe all the key elements you should aim to include in a PID, but they don’t necessarily need to be displayed or divided in this way. You should develop your own style of presentation and modify this to the needs of the project you are working on; these sections act as a guide for you to adapt as necessary.


The purpose of the project is the reason for the project existing. In the PID, the purpose section develops the mechanisms to judge whether it is worthwhile to initiate the project. During the project, it also tells anyone how the project remains desirable, viable and achievable, as a way to support decision making and ensure investment in the project continues.


The project background describes the foundation or rationale for project initiation. This section describes the project in general terms, discusses why the project is being pursued and how it relates to other projects within, or being run by, the organisation. If necessary, it may address any relevant statutory authority or applicable regulations. It might also include copies of background material related to the project.

Project definition

This section describes conditions that need to be met for the successful completion of the project. It is formed of several parts:


The objective of the project tells us the motive for the project, by describing the business needs that the project will address and its intended effects. These are clear statements (sometimes called problem or need statements) about the conceptual development of the project in terms of outputs, required resources and timing.

Method of approach

This represents the chosen methodology for your project, ie how you would go about doing it.


Milestones are the planned delivery stages in the execution of the project. They are used to measure the progress of a project.


Scope describes everything about project, ranging from the work content to the expected outcomes. The project scope consists of naming all the activities to be performed, the resources that will be consumed, the end products, limitations and the quality standards. It provides the base on which the whole project is built. Sometimes the scope is used as an overview, and will include some of the other sections here such as objectives, deliverables, constraints and exclusions.


Deliverables are the outcomes, outputs and benefits that are expected upon completion of the project.


The project exclusions section explicitly states those things that are not included in the project, for example deliverables that cannot be expected.


Constraints are any applicable limitation or restriction, either internal or external to a project, which will affect the performance of a project.


These are the factors that, for planning purposes, are considered to be true, real or certain without proof or demonstration.

Project Organisation Structure/Work Breakdown Structure

The Project Organisation Structure (POS) or Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) section identifies the main work activities that will be necessary to accomplish the goal (or set of goals) defined as the deliverables. The WBS organises and defines the total scope of the project.

There are two further parts to the POS/WBS that must be explicitly stated:

Reporting structure

This shows the layers of your project teams and who is reporting to whom, to ensure the project runs smoothly.

Team management structure

This shows the hierarchy of the project management team. Usually, the roles and responsibilities of the project teams are defined here.

Project budget

This section represents the estimated cost, financial expenses or overheads required for the completion of a project.

Risk register

This is a record of all the risks that we can identify associated with the project. This register should be regularly reviewed by the project manager to determine whether the aggregate risks may impact on the progress of our project. If risks are poorly estimated, they might increase the budgeted cost and completion time of the project.

Project control

This section describes the process that you will use throughout the project to track, review and regulate the progress of the project to meet the objectives defined in PID.

Stakeholder analysis

Stakeholders are the people or groups who have an interest in or influence on the project’s outcome. A stakeholder analysis identifies the people involved in the project that may:

  • Support or oppose the project
  • Gain or lose as a result of project delivery
  • See the project as a threat or enhancement to their position
  • Become active supporters or blockers of the project and its progress

Most projects have both internal and external stakeholders. For example, the project management team members, and the management team of the organisation are all internal stakeholders. External stakeholders might include environmental pressure groups, industry regulators, external contractors and members of the public affected by the project.

Analysing who the stakeholders are, and engaging and communicating with them appropriately, is essential to a project’s success.

Your task

Download the simple template of a PID from the bottom of this step. Read through the document – you’ll notice the sections correlate to the headings above.

Read through the PID in light of what you now know. You might like to add your own notes and examples on the template for use later.

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This article is from the free online course:

Project Initiation

Coventry University