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BOSCARD (Terms of Reference)

~ By Duncan Haughey

When looking to gain support and approval for your next project, it might be worth thinking BOSCARD.

The BOSCARD is a strategic planning tool used to give the terms-of-reference for new projects. It is believed to have originated with consulting company Cap Gemini in the 1980s.

The acronym stands for background, objectives, scope, constraints, assumptions, risks and deliverables. These headings are typical in terms-of-reference and project initiation documents.

BackgroundProvide background information that includes the reasons for creating the project and mentions the key stakeholders who will benefit from the project result.
ObjectivesDescribe the project goals and link each of them with related, SMART project objectives.
ScopeProvide a high-level description of the features and functions that characterise the product, service, or result the project is meant to deliver.
ConstraintsIdentify the specific constraints or restrictions that limit or place conditions on the project, especially those associated with project scope.
AssumptionsSpecify all factors that are, for planning purposes considered to be true. During the planning process, these assumptions will be validated.
RisksOutline the risks identified at the start of the project. Include a quick assessment of the significance of each risk and how to deal with them.
DeliverablesDefine the key deliverables the project is required to produce to achieve the stated objectives.

When initiating a project, it is important that all parties involved agree in considerable detail what the project is to achieve before it starts. Failure to gain formal agreement almost always leads to some expectations not being met.

The nice thing about the BOSCARD is it provides a quick way of delivering all the necessary project information to stakeholders, without having to complete a full project initiation document.

It's a lot more digestible for busy stakeholders who may not have time to wade through a lengthy project initiation document when looking for a quick, but detailed overview of the proposed project.

Next time you're seeking to gain support for a new project think, BOSCARD.

Download our free BOSCARD template

Comments (4)

Topic: BOSCARD (Terms of Reference)
4/5 (4)
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25th September 2015 2:38pm
Leona says...
I was quite disappointed to see that the information displayed was incorrect. When I looked up what BOSCARDET means, I was informed that it meant 'Background, Objectives, Scope, Constraints, Assumptions, Reporting, Dependencies, Estimates and Timescales', however your website tells me otherwise. I found this to be confusing and it caused me to fail my entire Welsh Bacc course. Thank You.
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25th September 2015 6:51pm
Duncan Haughey (London) says...
I would suggest your exam definition is an opinion and no more right than the definition on this website. There are several different variations of BOSCARD as there are other acronyms. Take SMART, for example, this has many variations, and again, it is not possible to say one is more right than another. If the definition proves useful and delivers results then who is to say that it is wrong.

My opinion from a project manager's viewpoint is that the identification of risks in a BOSCARD is essential. All projects should consider risk early on to make sure the project is viable from a risk perspective.

To summarise, there are many ways to deliver projects and many tools and approaches you can use. You are not wrong because there is no right and wrong, only different.
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21st June 2015 12:22pm
Gil says...
Hi Duncan,

Nice idea! A "one-page charter", so to speak.

Question - what do you mean by "Strategic Fit" and "Lead Function" in the top of the page?

Suggestion - I recommend adding a "Schedule" section that lists the high-level milestones of the project.

Thanks for the concept document - I will try it out!

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14th February 2016 3:49pm
Duncan (London) says...
Hi Gil,

Strategic Fit: The part of the business strategy to which the project is aligned.
Lead Function: The department or function that will drive the project forward.

It's a bit early for a schedule or milestones. At this point, the project is yet to be approved.


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