Project Management Terms of Reference (ToR) Template (2024)

Table of Contents

  • Terms of Reference: Definition and Purpose
  • What’s Included in the ToR?
      • 1. Background
      • 2. Objectives
      • 3. Issues
      • 4. Methodology
      • 5. Expertise
      • 6. Reporting
      • 7. Work Plan
  • Wrapping Up
Project Management Terms of Reference (ToR) Template (1)

Terms of Reference(ToR) provide a statement of the proposed project’s background, purpose, and objectives. A ToR template includes a range of criteria that are necessary for strategic project management decision-making. In addition, this document defines the activities, risks, budget, and expertise related to the project.

The following template provides an overview of the main sections of the Project Terms of Reference document. In this guide, I describe the definition and content of ToR. The template is available for free download as a .doc file.

Project Management Terms of Reference (ToR) Template (2)

Terms Of Reference Template Free Download(DOC file, 48Kb)

Terms of Reference: Definition and Purpose

In project management, theTerms of Referenceis a strategy-level document that describes the expected deliverables, who is responsible for each deliverable, and the timeline in which they should be completed. The ToR states the planned activities, typical inputs and outputs, project budget, working schedules, and job descriptions. It is used to evaluate the performance of the project team, contractors, consultants, experts, and other project stakeholders.

Thepurposeof the ToR is to specify the amount and type of work to accomplish the project. In addition, it is a governance document that establishes and determines the relationships between all project stakeholders. The Terms of Reference document is developed once a project has been identified, defined, and planned.

The ToR of a project provides aclear descriptionof the following critical information:

  • Therationalebehind undertaking the project.
  • Theproposed methodologyof project management, along with work plans and activity schedules.
  • The expectedresource requirements, primarily regarding personnel.
  • Reportingrules and requirements.

What’s Included in the ToR?

The development of Project Terms of Reference is required for making the decision on whether or not to allocate necessary funds to a proposed project. It is the result of the project proposal process, and TOR serves as the primary report of this process. TOR is usually required for:

  • Pre-feasibility and feasibility analyses
  • Appraisal activity
  • Implementation contracts designing and monitoring
  • Evaluation studies
  • Reporting and audit
  • Other advisory work required at any project stage

Considering the listed items, the content of Project Terms of Reference should include business-critical information necessary for starting, implementing and monitoring project activities. Meanwhile, the exact content of TOR varies from project to project and significantly depends upon the scope of a proposed project.

A generic content format of Project Terms of Reference is suggested below:

  • Project Background
  • Project Objectives
  • Issues to be explored and analyzed against certain criteria
  • Implementation Methodology to be applied
  • Expertise required
  • Reporting requirements
  • Work plan, including activity schedules

Please note these are the common sections of a TOR template. They can be changed or omitted, depending on the scope of a particular project. The following below description of the TOR sections is general and provided as an overview for guidance purposes. It means a particular project will require a deeper analysis of the content to be included in a TOR template. When you plan for your project, you must first analyze and define the work that needs to be contracted out, and then proceed with the development of Project Terms of Reference.

1. Background

The background of a project provides an overview of the history behind the project. It should clearly state why perform the project and refer to a programming context. The purpose is to provide the reader with a brief explanation of the need behind the project.

The Background section of a ToR template usually includes several paragraphs which address the following issues:

  • Describe the project in the context of a related business need
  • State the general role of stakeholders in doing project activities
  • Highlight a brief overview of the project to date

2. Objectives

The objectives of a project are those desired accomplishments that can be reasonably delivered upon project completion, with consumption of available resources and within an expected timeframe. They should clearly identify and define what is expected from the project and who the target audience is.

The Objectives section of a Terms of Reference template should describe desired achievements at different stages of project lifecycle. It should also state the primary objectives of the project, which must be achieved upon success project completion. Here’s an example of how it should look like.

Work Type/Project Stage

Generic Objective

– Project CompletionTo increase sales of product “A” by 15% over a 3-month period
– Feasibility studyTo provide decision makers with sufficient information necessary for acceptance or rejection of the proposed project
– MonitoringTo provide decision makers with sufficient information necessary to make informed judgment regarding the performance of the project
– AuditTo ensure the project remains relevant and reasonable in legal, economical and technical terms

3. Issues

Any project involves a number of issues and problematic areas that must be addressed in order for the project to be implemented smoothly. The issues are the points of discussion or dispute throughout the project lifecycle. They cover any concern, query, request for change, or anything else that requires a resolution during the project. Unresolved issues may cause project failure.

The Issues section of a TOR template should highlight key issues to be studied and disputed at every stage of the project lifecycle. Usually TOR includes a range of evaluation criteria to be used for issue analysis and solving. Here are generic issue evaluation criteria for most projects:

  • Efficiency – this criterion determines how well a given activity transforms available resources into desired outputs in terms of quantity, quality and time
  • Relevance – it help analyze whether a given activity is being performed with the desired benefits
  • Effectiveness – it concerns how far the project’s outputs have been utilized and whether the project’s purpose has been realized
  • Impact – this measure helps figure out the extent to which the project’s benefits received by the target audience have an overall effect on larger numbers of people concerned
  • Sustainability – this criterion identifies whether the project’s positive outcomes will continue after funding ends.

4. Methodology

The implementation methodology of a project provides a set of broad principles and rules from which specific procedures will be derived in order to define how to carry out the project in a cost-effective way. It describes the main methods of project implementation.

The Methodology section of a Project Terms of Reference template should therefore include a description of the following items:

  • Key phases of the project implementation process
  • The required level of stakeholder involvement that ensures smooth implementation
  • The content and duration of project activities and tasks
  • The information collection tools to be used throughout the project for monitoring purposes
  • Data analysis rules

5. Expertise

The expertise needed for doing a project defines a set of professional requirements for the individuals and teams involved in project implementation. It will be the basis for team building, including training and skill assessment.

The Expertise section of a Project Terms of Reference template should identify the following:

  • The type of work involved in the project
  • The type of skills and abilities required to do project work
  • The exact number of individuals involved, including a description of their qualifications, experience, and other professional attributes
  • The period of engagement of each team member
  • A description of the duties and responsibility per teammate
  • The relationship between the team members, including leadership roles

6. Reporting

Reports provide valued information about project performance over a certain period. Reporting is a process that starts once a project is launched and continues until the project is completed and its product is handed over. Reporting requirements will define how to write and submit project reports and what information to include.

The Reporting Requirements section of a Terms of Reference template should clearly specify the requirements for the reporting process, and might include the details of:

  • Table of contents for project reports
  • Rules for composing annexes
  • Report templates
  • The language to be used in reports
  • Computer software programmes to be used
  • Submission dates
  • People responsible for reporting and approving
  • Other sufficient information, such as number of copies to be created, responsibilities for report production and presentation, etc.

7. Work Plan

A work plan is a kind of strategy that aims to help solve problems throughout a project and boost employee drive and focus. It determines what actions need to be taken to start, implement, and complete the project within a specified time period and under defined budget. It is often used as a general guide for developing a project implementation plan.

The Work Plan section of a Project Terms of Reference template should set out the activities and necessary resources required for achieving the project’s results and purpose. It should therefore include a summary of the anticipated work and time schedule, which are based upon the following:

  • An analysis of the issues, in terms of the evaluation criteria
  • The proposed implementation methodology
  • The reporting requirements
  • The finance resources allocated to the project.

Wrapping Up

The Terms of Reference is one of the most important documents that should be considered during the project management process. It defines the purpose, scope, deliverables, and timelines for the project, and it holds the stakeholders accountable for their deliverables.

Project Management Terms of Reference (ToR) Template (2024)


How do you write a ToR terms of reference? ›

Focus on key issues and expectations.

A ToR should outline any specific expectations about the work of the taskforce. This may include key issues (or those out of scope), the nature of any problem solving processes, the people to be involved or the solutions to be explored.

What are terms of reference for project management? ›

Terms of reference (TOR) define the purpose and structures of a project, committee, meeting, negotiation, or any similar collection of people who have agreed to work together to accomplish a shared goal. Terms of reference show how the object in question will be defined, developed, and verified.

What does ToR mean in project management? ›

Terms of Reference or familiarity with the abbreviation TOR is a document that contains a description of the project planning. In other words, TOR is a document that includes a project framework. This document will explain the background, objectives, and vision of the project.

What are the contents of terms of reference? ›

The terms of reference (ToR) document defines all aspects of how a consultant or a team will conduct an evaluation. It defines the objectives and the scope of the evaluation, outlines the responsibilities of the consultant or team, and provides a clear description of the resources available to conduct the study.

What is ToR in RFP? ›

Terms of Reference (TOR) means the document included in the RFP as Section 5 which explains the objectives, scope of work, activities, tasks to be performed, respective responsibilities of the Client and the Consultant, and expected results and deliverables of the assignment.

What are the key information required to be filled in Terms of Reference ToR )? Select three? ›

The reporting requirements for the evaluation (referred to above as section 8 in a ToR) may include:
  • The desired format(s) (such oral, written, video, etc.)
  • Dissemination materials (such as summary, briefs, presentation materials, newsletter, etc.)
  • Intended audience(s)
  • Content areas.
  • Desired length of the report.

How do you write ToRs? ›

ToRs can be detailed and specific or general. A good ToR should be written in simple plain language and should be agreed upon by the evaluation commissioners, managers and users prior to the final agreement with the evaluators. Below is a guide on some of the requirements under the proposed sub-headings in a ToR.

What is the difference between sow and ToR? ›

The use of the terms TOR and SOW essentially refer to the same thing and serve the same purpose. For professional services contracts, it is more appropriate to use the term TOR as a common practice.

How do you write a terms of reference example? ›

A generic content format of Project Terms of Reference is suggested below:
  1. Project Background.
  2. Project Objectives.
  3. Issues to be explored and analyzed against certain criteria.
  4. Implementation Methodology to be applied.
  5. Expertise required.
  6. Reporting requirements.
  7. Work plan, including activity schedules.
Mar 16, 2012

What are deliverables in terms of reference? ›

Terms of Reference/Deliverables means the scope of work, activities and task to be performed by the consultant pursuant to the contract.

What are specific terms of reference? ›

Terms of reference are the instructions given to someone when they are asked to consider or investigate a particular subject, telling them what they must deal with and what they can ignore.

What are the four types of references? ›

There are four types of references.
References from past employers carry the most weight.
  • Employment references include past employers, co-workers, subordinates, or clients. ...
  • Professional references are people who know you on a professional basis. ...
  • Academic references are instructors and vocational counselors.

What is the Terms of Reference ToR for impact analysis? ›

The Terms of Reference is a key document in the evaluation process, as it defines all aspects of how an evaluation will be conducted. It presents the objectives of the evaluation, the role and responsibilities of the evaluator and evaluation client and the resources available to conduct the evaluation.

In which stage the Terms of Reference ToR is established? ›

Once a project or development has gone through the screening and scoping phases, the authority responsible for processing the EIA provides the client with a Terms of Reference (TOR) document.

What are key issues to take care of in developing the terms of reference? ›

Background, purpose and use of the evaluation

It should also explain why the evaluation is to be done, what triggered it, what are the its key objectives and how the evaluation results will be used and by whom. This should be clearly linked back to the corporate, thematic, regional or sub regional evaluation plans.

What are the steps to successfully install ToR? ›

For Windows
  1. Navigate to the Tor Browser download page.
  2. Download the Windows .exe file.
  3. (Recommended) Verify the file's signature.
  4. When the download is complete, double click the .exe file. Complete the installation wizard process.

What are the evaluation criteria for ToR? ›

- To what extent are the benefits of the project likely to be sustained after the completion of this project? - What is the likelihood of continuation and sustainability of project outcomes and benefits after completion of the project? - How effective were the exit strategies, and approaches to phase out assistance ...

What do tors look like? ›

Dome: a large rounded dome- shaped structure or hill with bare rock exposed over most of the surface. Tors: a rocky pile or outcrop of stacked piles of partially rounded boulders, called core stones, loosely resting on top of one another.

How are tors made paragraph? ›

Tors usually overlie unaltered bedrock and are thought to be formed either by freeze–thaw weathering or by groundwater weathering before exposure. There is often evidence of spheroidal weathering of the squared joint blocks. This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen.

How are tors formed step by step? ›

Tors are big core stones that remain behind on the earth's surface due to weathering and erosion that alters the landform. 3. • Development of tors begins when igneous rock cools down underneath the earth's surface. Cracks form when granite cools down. Groundwater seeps through the cracks and weathering takes place.

Is SOW same as RFP? ›

A Scope of Work (SOW) is a fundamental piece of a Request for Proposal (RFP) and describes what the company is looking to achieve as a result of the RFP. The SOW helps ensure that the product or service meets the company's needs and establishes the parameters of what could be included in the resulting contract.

What are the 2 meanings of SOW? ›

sow. 1 of 2 noun. ˈsau̇ : an adult female hog. also : the adult female of various other animals (as a bear)

Is project charter same as SOW? ›

What's the difference between an SOW, a scope of work, and a project charter? A statement of work is a highly detailed, legally-binding contract, while a project charter is a shorter, high-level, non-legal overview. You'll often create project charters after the SOW.

What are three good references examples? ›

The 8 best people to choose as job references
  • Recent Bosses. ...
  • Coworkers. ...
  • Professors. ...
  • Friends… But Only if They're a Professional Reference. ...
  • Group Members. ...
  • Any Place You've Volunteered. ...
  • The Person You Babysat for or Whose Lawn You Mowed Every Summer. ...
  • High School Teacher or Coach.
Aug 10, 2021

Why it is important to have a ToR in project planning? ›

They provide a clear, definitive statement on what is the aim of the project, what are the objectives that will achieve the aim, what are the specific deliverables and how they will be assessed to determine completion, and what input resources are available to support completion.

What are the three types of deliverables? ›

Common types of deliverables include tangible or intangible (like hardware or a number-based target), internal or external (works created for internal use or external stakeholders), and final or process (main goal or small outputs that help the team achieve it).

What is the difference between a project charter and terms of reference? ›

Both terms of reference and project charters are means of defining an initiative. Terms of reference is a far broader term that may apply to an initiative such as negotiations between governments or firms. Project charters are specific to projects, particularly projects delivered according to a waterfall model.

What are the six major types of reference sources? ›

The most familiar types are dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, biographical sources, directories, atlases, and bibliographies.

What are the five major types of reference? ›

There are many types of reference sources, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, thesauri, directories, and almanacs. More broadly, reference sources can also include bibliographies, manuals, handbooks, atlases, and gazetteers.

What are references examples? ›

reference noun (MENTION)

a mention of something: Knowing what had happened, I avoided making any reference to (= mentioning) weddings. formal I am writing with/in reference to (= in connection with) your letter of 15 March. More examples. She made a veiled reference to her former employer.

What is the proper order of 4 general elements of a reference? ›

A reference list entry generally has four elements: the author, date, title, and source.

What are the two most commonly used referencing styles? ›

APA style is the most common referencing style, but different schools, departments, and lecturers may have their own requirements.
  • APA style is commonly used in Education, Business, and some Social Sciences and Humanities disciplines.
  • MLA style is often used in English and Media Studies.
Feb 26, 2020

What is the Terms of Reference TOR for impact analysis? ›

The Terms of Reference is a key document in the evaluation process, as it defines all aspects of how an evaluation will be conducted. It presents the objectives of the evaluation, the role and responsibilities of the evaluator and evaluation client and the resources available to conduct the evaluation.

In which stage the Terms of Reference TOR is established? ›

TOR or Terms of Reference is a document produced by the authority conducting the EIA study. It is formed during Scoping, the second stage in the EIA process.

How do you prepare a TOR? ›

TOR should be prepared by a person in the implementing agency project management office who is specialised in the technical field, or by a consultant hired for his technical knowledge. The scope of work shall be compatible with the available budget.

How do you write a Terms of Reference example? ›

A generic content format of Project Terms of Reference is suggested below:
  1. Project Background.
  2. Project Objectives.
  3. Issues to be explored and analyzed against certain criteria.
  4. Implementation Methodology to be applied.
  5. Expertise required.
  6. Reporting requirements.
  7. Work plan, including activity schedules.
Mar 16, 2012

What are the three stages of impact analysis? ›

Stages of the EIA process
StageWhat's involved
1. ScreeningDeciding if an EIA is required
2. ScopingDeciding what needs to be covered in the assessment and reported in the 'EIA Report'
3. Preparing the EIA ReportThe EIA report has to include the likely significant environmental effects of the development
3 more rows
Jul 21, 2022

Who creates terms of reference? ›

Your terms of reference should be drafted and agreed by the board. They will then be used to direct future meetings and ensure they are as productive and useful as possible.

Are terms of reference legally binding? ›

It does not create any legally binding obligations for either party but is a statement of each party's current intentions and commitment to improve road safety.

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