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Terms of Reference Project Management Template

November 26 2006

Creating Terms of Reference using this Project Management Template

Within this article, we will help you to successfully initiate projects, by describing: How to define a “Terms of Reference (TOR)”.

The project management templates of TOR describes the project vision, objectives, scope, organization and overall implementation plan. It helps a project manager set the direction for the project and gain buy in from your stakeholders as to how the project will be organized and implemented. The project management template will also help you to control the scope of your project, by defining exactly what it is that you have to achieve. A TOR may also be referred to as a Project Charter or Project Definition Report. To define a comprehensive TOR for your project, take the following steps:

Step 1: Identify the Project Vision with this Project Management Template

  • Vision: The first step taken when defining a TOR is to identify the project vision. The vision encapsulates the purpose of the project and is the defined end goal for the project team.
  • Objectives: Then based on the vision, list three to five objectives to be achieved by the project. Each objective should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART).
  • Scope: With a clear view of the Vision and Objectives of the project, it’s time to define the project scope. The scope defines the formal boundaries of the project by describing how the business will be changed or altered by the project delivery.
  • Deliverables: Then  you need to describe each of the deliverables that the project will produce.

By defining the vision, objectives, scope and deliverables, you now have a solid view of the purpose of the project and the outcome to be achieved.

Step 2: Describe the Project Organization with this Project Management Template

The next step is to identify how the project will be structured by listing the customers, stakeholders, roles, responsibilities and reporting lines.

  • Customers: First, identify the project customers. A customer is a person or entity that is responsible for accepting the deliverables when the project is complete.
  • Stakeholders: Then identify the project stakeholders. A stakeholder is a person or entity within or outside of the project with a specific key interest or stake in the project. For example, a Financial Controller will be interested in the cost of the project, and a CEO will be interested in whether the project helps to achieve the company vision.
  • Roles: Now list the key roles involved in delivering the project. Examples of roles include the Project Sponsor, Project Board and Project Manager. Then summarize each of the primary responsibilities of each role identified.
  • Structure: Once you have a clear view of the roles needed to undertake the project, you can depict the reporting lines between those roles within a Project Organization Chart.

Step 3: Plan the Approach to Implementation with this Project Management Template

You’re almost there! You now have a solid definition of what the project needs to achieve and how it will be organized to achieve it. The final step in creating a TOR is to describe the implementation approach.

  • Implementation Plan: To provide the Customer and Stakeholders with confidence that the project implementation has been well thought through, create an Implementation Plan listing the phases, activities and timeframes involved in undertaking the project.
  • Milestones: In addition, list any important milestones and describe why they are critical to the project. A milestone is typically an important project event, such as the achievement of a key deliverable.
  • Dependencies: List any key dependencies and their criticality to the project. A dependency is defined as an activity that is likely to impact on the project during its life cycle.
  • Resource Plan: Summarize the resources involved in undertaking the project by listing the labor, equipment and materials needed.
  • Financial Plan: Then budget the financial resources required to undertake the project.
  • Quality Plan: Briefly describe the management processes involved in monitoring and controlling the project delivery.
  • Completion Criteria: Next, list the criteria for project completion. Once these criteria have been met, the project will be considered complete and ready for closure.

Step 4: List the Risks and Issues with a Project Management Template

The final step taken to complete your Terms of Reference is to identify any project risks, issues, assumptions and constraints related to the project.

And that’s it. If you complete each of the steps above, then you will create a solid Terms of Reference for your project, helping you to manage scope and deliver consistently on time and within budget. If you need more help, why not download a Terms of Reference template from Method123?