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Project initiation document template

Want to get your next project started on the right foot? Learn how the project initiation document can help.
This template was built with Coda, the all-in-one doc that brings words, data, and teams together. Play with the template below or copy the doc to save your edits.

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Project Name
Solution/Business Case
Start Date
End Date
Launch Monetization Ecosystem
Release of the Content Creation Ecosystem
Customer Experience
56 days
Release alpha version of product
First release of the product (testing purposes)
Customer Experience
Front End
37 days
Fix major bug fixes on mobile app
Mobile Improvements to get ready for Beta version of product
Front End
Back End
52 days
Board Meeting
Meeting with Stakeholders
13 days
There are no rows in this table

The best projects aren’t the ones thrown together willy nilly where it feels like everyone is flying by the seat of their pants, but somehow accomplishing their goals. Those projects can be fun (at times), but they’re often not as smooth as they could be.
No, the best projects are the ones that follow a repeatable process, they usually involve templates and project documents, and, best of all, they have project managers who start planning from the moment they pick up the project.

What is a project initiation document?

A project initiation document is a project doc that defines the core aspects of the project, details like scope, business case, success criteria, and team. It’s designed to bring together relevant information and project definitions to give those involved a bit of context before things get going. It’s mostly used during the early stages of a project, before specific details like budget and timeline have been defined. The end product looks a lot .

What is a project initiation document template?

A project initiation template is a template that guides you through the process of setting up a project initiation document. It helps you capture all the important information and gives you a consistent way to present the information to your team and stakeholders. The template helps because, as a project manager, you might only fill out a project initiation document every few months and it can be easy to forget everything you need to include.

What should a project initiation document (PID) contain?

Project initiation documents should contain as much important information as you have at the early stages of the project. There are going to be some details that need to be hammered out making this something of a living document, but your goal with this document is to bring everyone together for the project and run through the gist of the scope. The PID also gives you space to define important aspects of the project and a way to breakdown the structure of the project lifecycle for your team.


The first thing to do is talk about the why of the project. What do the client or internal stakeholders hope to achieve with the project? What’s the problem being solved (the purpose of the project)? What does success look like for the project? What are the expected project costs? Answering these questions is going to help provide the context for everything that is happening, so don’t be afraid to provide as much information as possible.

Definition and planning

Next up, it’s time to define all the important details of the project. This includes information about the project scope, what the budget should be, include a communication plan and, if you’ve got the timeline figured out, include it.
You’ll also want to define who the project team is, as well as what the roles and responsibilities are for each person. This is a good place for using the RACI approach. We have if you want to learn more about that. If you need to, define both the internal team and any external contractors or stakeholders who will be involved. This provides a very clear picture of who’s involved and what they’re responsible for.
If you know what tools you’re going to need, include those as well. This can save you time down the road, especially if you’re working with either new tools or teams that haven’t used these tools before. The early mention gives people time to figure out how things work.

Launch and execution

What does the end result look like and what needs to happen to launch it? Sometimes this is obvious, like with a new product (or new feature) release. But with internal projects, it’s not always obvious. Mentioning what it looks like in the early stages helps with the planning of the end of the project.

Performance monitoring

Mention what success looks like for the project, what metrics you’ll be using to measure that success, and what the critical milestones are going to look like. This helps guide people to the ideal final product from the get-go and helps reduce rework if people aren’t clear.

Project initiation document templates to jumpstart your next project

The nice thing about the project initiation document is that you can build a lot of the pieces using other project management templates. This basically means it’s our favorite thing ever, a template of templates.
Let’s explore some of the templates that you can use to help build your PID.

Provide project context

A good place to start is by going into the why of a project. Tell team members the project name, why it’s happening, what’s being done, and who they’re going to be working with. This provides a good start for the necessary context. A would also work here.

Define project objectives

What are the ultimate goals of this project? Highlight as many key tasks and project deliverables as you can, to help create a strong sense of what needs to be done. Our can help you define these details easily.

List project resources

Provide as complete a list of project resources as possible. This helps reduce the amount of time you have to spend copying and pasting links, and gives you an editable repository of information that your team can share. This should help you get started.

Create project structure

What does the look like for this project? A breakdown structure is a method of breaking down the work needed in a project into smaller, deliverable-based chunks of works. It’s designed to show you and the team what the various outcomes of the project are supposed to look like.
We’ve got a that can be modified to help you with the work breakdown structure.

Assign roles

Here’s where you define who’s on your team and what they’re responsible for. This helps keep everyone focused on the tasks they’ve been assigned, which are usually based on their strengths. As mentioned above, to use here.

Identify risks management strategies

How are you going to be handling risk during the project? What’s been identified and what mitigation strategies are in place to help, should these issues arise. We’ve got a few different templates that you use including ones for , , and a that can help further identify and rank risk.

Determine dependencies

Identifying the dependencies within your project can help you figure out the fastest route through your project (which might be needed if you have to things for whatever reason). The most effective way to track dependencies is using a Gantt chart. These charts provide a visual timeline of the work that needs to be done and clearly shows which tasks have dependencies. This will help you get started with the Gantt chart.

How to use this project initiation document template in Coda
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Step 1: Initiating a Project

Starting with the page, you can initiate a new project by filling out the form. As mentioned earlier in the introduction, in a project initiation it is key for a team to define a business problem and come up with a solution for it.
In this form you can add details for your project like Project Name, Business Case, Budget, and the estimated dates for the project.
You can also view a timeline of all the projects in the page.

Step 2: Creating Objectives/Goals for your Projects

Next, you can add in objectives for your correlated projects in the page. By clicking the Add Objective button you can add in details for your milestone like Description, Teams Involved, Start Date, and End Date. Objectives allow your organization to see prioritize certain tasks before others based on their timeline and level of importance.
To see a visual representation of the objectives you can view the where you can see a timeline that is organized by Project .

Extra Steps: People, Teams, Roles

To keep track of the teams and people that are a part of you organization you can visit the page where there are tables to define and and assign each person that is in your organization to a team and role.

Project initiation document template FAQs

How do you write a project initiation document?

The most effective way to put together a project initiation document is to use a template. This way you know you’re providing your teams with consistent information in a way that they’re used to. And, it eliminates the risk of you forgetting important details, which might seem unlikely, but if you’ve run even one project you’ll know how easy it can be to forget something once you get going.

What is a project initiation document used for?

Making sure there is clarity around why the project is happening, what’s going to happen, what’s expected to happen, and providing definitions for important factors. It should also include risk management practices (learn more about that
). This document helps guide people at the beginning of the project to make sure that everyone has a heads up on what’s needed of them during the project.

What is the project initiation checklist?

It’s a checklist that walks you through everything you need to do for the project initiation process. It’s really just another kind of template, although it’s not as automated.

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