Write a winning project initiation plan [free templates]

Cover all bases with our free project management document templates

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The initiation plan is the most important documents of any project, and it’s not difficult to understand why that is. The initiation plan will consist of a number of sections, and together they form the backbone, or foundation if you will, of the project.

The exact format of the initiation phase can vary between organisations and even projects, but here we’ll discuss a more formal approach based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (the PMBOK). Feel free to adapt the approach to your circumstances.

To help you get started quickly, we’ve broken each stage down into headings and subheadings, for easy overview, as well as linked to each of the related document templates. If you like them and think others would benefit, feel free to share them!

Section 1: business case

> Download a business case template here to kick-start your project.

The main aim of the business case is to give justification for a project, and to detail the reasoning that brought you to that conclusion. It typically consist of a structured document, but can also be created in the form of a presentation.

Regardless of the format, the following is a suggestion of what you could include.

  • Executive summary
  • Background and reason
  • Problem statement
  • Project description
  • Scope
  • Reasons
  • Business options
  • Expected benefits
  • Expected dis-benefits
  • Organisational impact
  • Strategic alignment
  • Timescale
  • Milestones
  • Costs
  • Investment appraisal
  • Major risks and issues
  • Dependencies
  • Assumptions
  • Constraints
  • Business case analysis team
  • Approval

Section 2: feasibility study

> Download a feasibility study template here to kick-start your project.

The reason for a feasibility study is to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of a proposed project, and to look at the over-all cost-benefit. The below breakdown is a suggestion but each situation is unique so make sure you tailor it to the audience.

  • Executive summary
  • Products and services
  • Marketplace
  • Marketing plan
  • Technology considerations
  • Project team
  • Staffing
  • Schedule
  • Financial projections
  • Business options
  • Findings and recommendations
  • Executive summary
  • Feasibility study team
  • Approval

Section 3: project brief

> Download a project brief template here to kick-start your project.

The project brief can be said to be a bird’s eye view of the proposed project. It will contain some of the material from the previous two stages, summarised and tightened up.

  • Project definition
  • Business case
  • Product description
  • Project approach
  • Project management team structure and role descriptions

Section 4: project charter

> Download a project charter template here to kick-start your project.

The project charter is a statement of the scope, objectives and participants in the proposed project. The charter is a key document and will remain intact throughout the lifecycle of the project, serving as a reference of authority. The level of detail within it is usually proportionate to the size and complexity of the project.

  • Project authorisation
  • Project scope
  • Project manager authorisation
  • Project team, sponsors and stakeholders
  • Project schedule
  • Budget and funding

Section 5: Project initiation document (PID)

> Download a project initiation document template here to kick-start your project.

The PID is probably the most important document of the initiation phase and should be seen as a top-level planning document that details all of the information needed to get the project started and underway. It draws from some of the previous sections, but also includes a few new headings.

  • Purpose of the Project Initiation Document
  • Background to the Proposed Work
  • Vision
  • Objectives
  • Scope
  • Business case
  • Assumptions
  • Constraints
  • Risk management strategy
  • Issue management strategy
  • Deliverables
  • Project quality strategy
  • Dependencies
  • Stakeholders
  • Project management team structure
  • Financial plan
  • Project plan
  • Project controls
  • Communication plan
  • Document management

Section 6: project proposal

> Download a project proposal template here to kick-start your project.

The project proposal does just what it says on the tin – it proposes the project to the authorising function within the organisation. It contains much of the information and conclusions from the earlier stages, but in a summarised form, to give everyone a complete, but high-level view of what’s proposed. Once the proposal has been signed off, the project can go through to initiation.

  • Executive summary
  •    Background
  •    History
  •    Requirements
  •    Solution
  • Proposal
  •    Project vision and goals
  •    Deliverables
  •    Timeframe
  •    Resources
  •    Budget
  •    Ownership
  •    Reporting
  •    Risk and issues
  •    Implications
  •    Success criteria
  • Authorisation

 Feel free to share the templates if you think your colleagues might benefit, and as always, if you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know via email – we would love to hear your feedback.

// The Programme Recruitment team.