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Project Justification Document (PJD)

A project justification document evolves from a project business case and concept definition document (CDD) and will detail the specific reasons why the project needs to be done. It essentially communicates that a project has moved from being a concept in a business case, to something which is heading onto the conveyor belt known as the project management life cycle.

High Level Whiteboard Planning Example for PJD

Project Justification DOcument, High level whiteboard planning example to determine the key dates and deliverables for the PJD

You can think of a project justification document as being akin to a mini project initiation document or even project charter. It is something which, as it’s title states, justifies why the project needs to be done, as well as stating at a high level at least the following:

Probable Project Justification Document Index

  1. Document Change History
  2. References
  3. Purpose of this Project Justification Document
  4. Background
  5. Business Objectives
  6. Project Scope
  7. Existing Commitments
  8. Do Nothing Consequences
  9. Delivery Timeline
  10. Non Financial Benefits
  11. Project resources required
  12. Impact to Existing Revenue
  13. Constraints
  14. Assumptions
  15. Risks & Contingencies
  16. Next Steps

Now as you can probably tell, many of these sections can be completed by copying and pasting out the relevant information which was included in the concept definition document and project business case.

In fact looking at the index there are only a few additional sections which you will need to write up from scratch. These are:

3.0 Purpose of This Project Justification Document

You would write something in this section along the lines of:

“This document is to enable to Programme Board to approve the initiation of Project XXXX”.

6.0 Project Scope

Now you might think that something extremely detailed is required in this section along the lines of what would be included in the project scope statement.

In fact this is not required as all that is required is simply something extremely high level such as:

“This project will deliver the functionality required to enable users to purchase products via the corporate website”.

7.0 Existing Commitments

This will relate to any major projects ongoing at the sametime which could impact on this project in terms of project resource allocation or software testing life cycle.

9.0 Delivery Timeline

This is the stage where you need to know how to write a project plan. The reason being, that whilst you are creating a project plan, it will be a milestone plan ie high level. However you will quickly find that your project management stakeholders expect those milestones to be met.

High Level Milestone Project Plan Example for PJD

Write a Project Plan, an example project plan showing milestones and tasks in Microsoft Project

Further you need to detail these carefully because you need to ensure the project sponsors are aware when they need to make the key business decisions to ensure the milestones you’ve documented are achievable.

14.0 Assumptions

This is an extremely important section particularly if you are utilising external suppliers. The reason being that any project time and cost quotes which they provide will be heavily caveated because the business requirements documentation won’t even be documented yet. Hence they need to ensure that when they are estimating project costs, should the defined project scope change dramatically, that they are not still held to their initial estimate.

Further you need to be clear to write down what assumptions you have made when detailing the milestone plan, and also the budget for the project.

Project Justification Document - Tip

Sometimes project manager's are so keen to get the project started that they rush through this document which causes huge problems in the future. Whilst you might think that no-one could possibly hold you accountable for the information in the project justification document (PJD) and delivery of it, the reality is that despite the project risks being all too apparent and the project management requirements being vague, if you do not properly document this in the assumptions section you will find yourself in a world of pain all too quickly.

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