TOR- Trying to get it right!

The single most difficult task in Project Management is probably setting the terms of reference for the task. The challenge is also aggravated by the fact that most of these is done based on a skimpy RFPs , ambiguous customer sessions that leaves more question on the table than it aimed to answer, a lot of assumptions – some appear so innocuous at the given point that they slip through the cracks unnoticed. And all these is probably done by a group of people who have greyed their hairs doing just that. All chiseled managers, PMPs and PRINCE2 under their hats, guiding lights of their PMOs; so what’s there to be apprehensive about that?

When the going is smooth, it doesn’t really matter. The Gurus have done a Nostradamus once again .. Yippee!. But believe me more often than ever, the hiccups start early and can last a lifetime. When the going gets tough, the tough always does not get going. And the poor soul under the fire is the poor manager who has to save his bum once more.

Minimizing this risk has always been a challenge. We all tend to have a couple of templates up our sleeves which we believe will be the answer to all such issues. We are so in love with these  piece of digital notes that we often fail to identify areas that could potentially be a pot boiler down the line. That is all but expected cause we work to the best of our knowledge at that given point of time. But take my word, the gurus can also err and sometimes with disastrous effects.

So is there an all encompassing template that roughly covers the areas that need to be addressed. Writing down a bullet-ed list, it seems roughly close to what the industry thinks. As a thumb rule the BOSCARDET (coined by Hoskyns) principle fits well to start with. BOSCARDET is a acronym for the following

  • Background
  • Objectives
  • Scope
  • Constraints
  • Assumptions
  • Reporting
  • Dependencies
  • Estimates
  • Timescales

I am sure there would be other areas to add to this list based on the project characteristics but BOSCARDET  seems to be a good place to start with.


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