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How to do effective project management online


In a fast-paced and evolving environment it can be tricky to keep track across all parts of a project. Even the best project management team can easily lose sight of the bigger picture – even more so when project management happens online.

With cloud-based project management tools being used more than ever, this blog discusses the importance and key components of the Project Initiation Document (PID) – also referred to as the Project Brief or Project Charter. When used correctly, this helps projects run more smoothly, especially if completed at the project initiation stage to evolve as the project progresses.

Traditional project management tools

We’ve found that there’s a continued need to keep an eye on all the internal and external factors that can easily trip up and derail a project. Often, the delivery team is left to focus on the daily tasks where they’re supported by online project management tools. The project teams then focus on hitting timescales in the delivery stage – so it’s important for the management of the project to also be controlled. This is where the PID comes into play and has an effective role.

The PID is project management 101. The project management community will be familiar with this traditional project management tool and its purpose but, in a fast-paced working environment, it can be easy to explain away the need.

The PID ensures there’s a continued focus on the project foundations – why the project was initiated, the defined and agreed success factors and who the stakeholders are. Many projects can be derailed in the important delivery stages when new stakeholder groups are identified – we don’t like any unplanned surprises.

PID – effective project management online

Most projects we work on will be supported by a number of online project management tools, such as Slack and Trello. The PID could be described as the project foundations, used alongside these online tools to reinforce the project – the glue that holds together all the moving parts. If completed comprehensively and maintained, the PID will make sure the project is kept on track and, most importantly, relevant.

What’s the format for a PID?

Like you, we like to keep life simple. The PID could be a single slide known as ‘PID on a page’, a little more detailed across a number of slides, or even a word document. The format is defined based on what suits the workplace and audience, so we like to be flexible.

When read, the PID provides the reader with the background, current working environment and an insight into how the project will be managed, including all the key internal and external factors (good and bad).

How Hoxby breaks down each PID component

At Hoxby, we work across many project types, tailoring each PID for the project complexity, organisation and industry. Here’s how we break down each project:

Project brief

What’s the problem or opportunity the project aims to address? This section will clearly and concisely explain the objective of the project.

Project outcome

How will the project team know when the project is finished? In and out scope items clearly showing the key deliverables.

Project benefits

What are the expected and modelled benefits based on the project outcome?


Who is impacted by the project? How are they impacted? What resources are aligned to the project? What’s the influence and interest of each stakeholder?

Communication model

What’s the frequency/channels used to provide project updates to the stakeholder groups? How will project escalations be managed?

Project challenges

What are the known obstacles to achieve a successful outcome and how will these be managed or mitigated?

Key risks

What elements in the internal and external environment need to be managed to make sure the project is successful?

Key assumptions

What items could derail a project if not known and explicitly detailed for correct consideration?


What are the internal or external factors the project is dependent on and how will these be managed?

Key timelines

What are the phases of the project and its projected timeline?


What’s the estimated cost of the project and the approved budget?

Key benefits of using the PID

Despite being a traditional project management tool, we believe a PID is the foundation to every successful project. And in case you’re not yet convinced, we’ve outlined below some of the key benefits for why it should be used in project management:

  1. Project health update

A PID helps with that important question which should be asked on a regular basis: “How is the health of the project?” Allow the project management team to identify the need to pause and propose any adjustments or support required so the project remains on track. Or even pause to celebrate any big (or small) wins. We think it’s important to celebrate success.

  1. Check-in tool

The PID is a one-stop document outlining all contributing factors to the project. When reviewed on a regular basis, it will reflect the current project environment across the stakeholder group. This is critical, especially when a project runs across multiple phases, where stakeholder groups may change due to organisational structure reform or there are volatile and rapidly changing world events happening.

  1. Onboarding tool

On any project there will be stakeholder and resource changes. The PID is a great tool to form part of the project onboarding process. This supports a new stakeholder/team member to quickly get up to speed, so they’re clear on the purpose of the project. We want to make sure everyone is well informed to do the best job possible.

  1. Stakeholder engagement

As projects evolve and stakeholder groups are engaged, it can be a little tricky and time consuming to bring everyone up to speed. The stakeholder groups may not have time or access to the online project management tools the core delivery team use daily. This is where the PID comes into use: ‘Hi new stakeholder, let me introduce you to the project’ (reference PID).

  1. Track high-level progress

The online project management tools will track project progress on a daily ‘real time’ basis. The PID can be used to convey to stakeholders the high-level progress in a snapshot.

We’re aware everyone has busy schedules so want to give everyone access to a view of the project progress. This can be outlined effectively using a snapshot of the last completed activities and forward planning, outlining future activities.

The PID should make everyone feel comfortable that the project’s set up for success and remains relevant to deal with emerging or changing factors. We want to make sure everyone is on the same page, armed with the full story, to avoid unplanned surprises as we embark on the rollercoaster that is project management.

Hoxby has project management tools to suit you

Hoxby Admin can deliver a bespoke team for specific projects as well as structured, full-service admin support that integrates seamlessly with your business. Not only do we use technology like Trello and Slack to speed up the process, but can access specialist expertise for each task with extensive experience of fully remote, digitally enabled working.

Find out more about our services or contact us at

Jacquelyn Armour is a Technology project management and Business analyst; she’s part of the Hoxby community.