Understanding the full value of the PRINCE2 Project Initiation Document (PID)

Businessman's arms and hands on table with document in the middle

In our latest blog post looking at PRINCE2® best practice, Fiona Magee explains why the real value of the PID template is realized only if approached with the right mindset.

The complete set of PRINCE2 templates covering all key business activities is available via My AXELOS.

All too often the PID is created, filled in by the project manager and then signed off by the board members without ever being read. But this ‘tick box’ attitude destroys the significant value that can be gained from using the PID for its intended purpose.

Remember, PRINCE2 is about giving structure to your project management and the PID is an essential part of this methodology. It provides a framework to guide you through the information you need to understand your project well enough to manage it effectively.

In fact, approached correctly, the PID can deliver value at three key levels within an organization:

  1. For the project manager
    The PID not only helps the project manager know what information is required, but also who to get it from – and reaching out to others is a hugely important step.
     
    Project managers should never sit at a desk and complete the PID template headings by themselves. It should be a collaborative process, where information is captured via discussions with key stakeholders. And the best way to do this, in my experience, is via a facilitated workshop with the PID providing the agenda points.
     
    This format will facilitate the right discussions with the right people and obtain a consensus of opinion, putting the project on a firm footing from the beginning. Without this agreement on the PID, a project stands little chance of staying on track and successfully delivering benefits in the long run.

  2. For the project board
    Organizations need to educate their project boards on the importance of the information outlined in the PID; only then will members recognize its value and actively want to be kept informed with updated versions at key decision-making points in the project.
     
    This will prompt the much-needed change in how the PID is perceived. So rather than being dismissed as something else on a list of PRINCE2 documentation, PID will be elevated to its proper status. Then it becomes a “contract” between the project board and the project manager which sets out the terms of the project and acknowledges that the project is worth doing.

  3. For other stakeholders
    The PID should be written in a simple, clear and concise manner, so that anyone who picks it up at any point in the project’s journey can understand what it is all about and the current state of play. It should avoid language full of technical management jargon which is confusing and unhelpful to all but a few people.

So to realize the full potential of the PID – and indeed any of the PRINCE2 templates – it is vital to understand that just filling out forms is not in any way “doing PRINCE2”. There is a world of difference between simply completing forms and using PRINCE2 as your method.

You may, as I do, have a “love-hate relationship” with this type of documentation, but approached correctly and used appropriately for the size of each project, these templates can be an invaluable part of managing a project successfully.

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Comments

16 Aug 2018 Milvio DiBartolomeo
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When using PRINCE2, people tend to forget that it’s not template driven as each product description tells us to focus on the format and presentation of the project information. The focus should therefore be on the information and evidence, not the template. The PID is a living product that should always reflect the current status, plans and controls of the project and how PRINCE2 is tailored ie. aligned to any organisational policies and standards. The component products of the PID should updated and re-baselined, as necessary.
20 Aug 2018 Nico Viergever
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A template for the PID normally does not make sense.
Apart from the dangers the author rightfully mentions, for the PID there are fundamental reasons why a template is ineffective.
I described those reasons here: http://www.viergever.info/home-en/blog/2018/august/pid-template/
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