The Terms of Reference

18 January 2011

With the terms of reference in place for a project or business, there is a guide to follow. This part of a projects lifecycle is considered the hardest to set in place correctly. The reason is that so much is dependent on it. Just like the solid foundation that is needed to build a wall. Without this foundation, the wall would fall over no matter what was done to assist it.

The words terms of reference are synonymous with project charter in the business sector. More people are familiar with this term and its meaning and can identify with it. No matter how it is referred to in words, the reference is the same. This is the part of a business proposal where the exact parameters of the project are all laid out.

Included in every terms of reference has to be the projects goals along with a clearly stated vision on what is to be accomplished. Without this in place, a project can get sidetracked to the point that the purpose of the project and its objectives may not be met. The scope of the project is another defining portion of this document. When these are all used as the guiding force behind the project, its success has a definite chance of succeeding.

To design and document the terms of reference for a project, many managers are turning to a manage tool called a project charter template. This pre-formatted form is both a good starting point and a guide to complete this necessary informative document in the least amount of time without sacrificing the contents.

In a terms of reference, more than just the scope, goals and vision are documented about a project. They also include a list of all the critical project deliverables and the key roles and responsibilities of the team members involved in the project. This will then make it easier for the organizational chart to be created and to have a plan for the implementation of the projects procedures as well.

The terms of reference are the project charter that will set in stone the goals and scope of your project for the team to follow.