Terms of Reference [Free Template]

It is time to change the template!
This month’s free template for project management is a Terms of Reference document. This document is very versatile. It serves two purposes.
To set the ‘ground rules for their meetings and Steering Group, I wrote down what they are supposed to do. This helps them to stay focused on the task at hand and not get into too many details. It also helps them and others to take the project seriously.
To identify the workstreams that are required to complete a project. This is useful when there is a technical stream of work being managed by one person and then other strands being taken over by others. It’s almost like a simplified version of the Project Initiation Document (or Project Charter), as it pertains to a specific set of people and tasks. It helps me and them see their specific roles and the responsibilities that are within their remit.

This terms of reference (Word Docx) can be used to define almost any topic: the scope of your school’s parent teacher association or the terms for a client project. Any situation where you need to quickly sum up the high-level deliverables, objectives and people, as well as cost and time commitments, without going into pages of detail that may not be relevant.

What is included in a Terms and Conditions of Reference?
Introduction to a project
Deliverables and objectives
Key resources/roles, and responsibilities
Workstream Organization Structure
Other notes

How to get the template

Register to get Resource Library access to this template.
What is a Terms of Reference? Thank you for asking.
Continue reading to find out what I have included.
General information
Start with the basics, as with many project documents. Add the name, title, or ID code of the project. Add today’s date. Add the version number to make the versioning clear.
That’s your meta data done. When you’re updating your meta data, make sure to add the project name as well as the file name of the document into the footer. If it makes sense, you can also add the version numbers to the footer (if the version number hasn’t been included in the file name).
To enter the file name in Word, I use the “Insert Field” option. If it looks too long or strange, I’ll shorten it to something we can all understand.
Introduction to a project
Start the ToR document for the project with a brief introduction about the project.
This summary summarises the Terms of Reference. This could be the responsibility of one group, i.e. Your Steering Group, or a workstream. This is what it means. Take this example:
This workstream covers all technical elements of the project xxx, including software and hardware elements as well as technical design and testing.
Notify the Steering Group of any principles this Terms of Reference will apply within e.g. The principles of PRINCE2 (r) will guide the Steering Group.
Deliverables and objectives
Describe the objectives and deliverables for this workstream, project, or group. These are some examples of project objectives you can use to help you create your ToR.
Ensure that all deliverables arrive on time, on budget, and in good quality
Ensure that the work is properly resourced in accordance with the overall project/resources plan
Assess the risks and take appropriate mitigation actions
All high-level project issues should be resolved.
Analyze and raise concerns about changes that could affect the project, including major milestones, scope, deliverables, costs, and benefits
Ensure compliance with corporate policies and protocols that impact the project
Manage project dependencies
Local project communications should be taken on board
Make/input critical Implementation go/no-go decisions
Plan the workstream, including deliverables, testing, implementation, communication, and development.


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