BOSCARD (Terms of Reference)

Tools | By Duncan Haughey | Read time minutes

When seeking support and approval for your next project, it might be worth thinking about writing a BOSCARD.

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

The acronym stands for background, objectives, scope, constraints, assumptions, risks and deliverables. These headings are typically found 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 the 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 the project scope.
AssumptionsSpecify all factors that are, for planning purposes, considered to be true. The project manager should validate these assumptions during the planning process.
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, all parties involved must agree in considerable detail on 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 an entire 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 are seeking to gain support for a new project, think, BOSCARD.

Download our BOSCARD template

Recommended read: Starting the Project With Both Feet on the Ground by Brad Egeland.


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