Posted 7 Apr 2009 - 12:12 by editor
Terms of reference are used to describe the purpose roles and structures of projects, working groups, reference groups and committees. They are guidelines for the way group members will work with each other and are usually the first task undertaken by a group.
They are usually documented by the project manager and presented to the group for approval. This provides members of the group with a clear definition of the project's scope.
Terms of reference provide a written basis for making decisions, confirming a common understanding between members how they will make decisions and work together.
Terms of reference should include
• What is to be achieved - Vision, objectives, scope and deliverables
• Who will participate - stakeholders, roles and responsibilities
• How it will be achieved - resource, financial and quality plans
• When the work will be achieved - a schedule and the duration of the group
Terms of reference set out a road map and give a clear pathway for the progression of the activity. They state what needs to be achieved by whom and when.
Terms of reference should include success factors, risks and restraints. This might include riders, such as authorisation of reports and submissions or the release of information about the project.
Often the following headings are used in Terms of reference documentation:
• Meeting Frequency
• Roles and Responsibilities
Then it's down to the work of the project - the deliverables. Oh and it wouldn't be complete without an acronym - TOR.