Terms of reference

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

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.[1] The terms of reference of a project are often referred to[by whom?] as the project charter.[2]

Terms of reference show how the object in question will be defined, developed, and verified. They should also provide a documented basis for making future decisions and for confirming or developing a common understanding of the scope among stakeholders. In order to meet these criteria, success factors/risks and constraints are fundamental. They are very important for project proposals.[citation needed]

Creating detailed terms of reference is critical,[citation needed] as they define the:

  • vision, objectives, scope and deliverables (i.e. what has to be achieved)
  • stakeholders, roles and responsibilities (i.e. who will take part in it)
  • resource, financial and quality plans (i.e. how it will be achieved)
  • work breakdown structure and schedule (i.e. when it will be achieved)

TORs should include:[3][citation needed]

  • success factors, risks and constraints.

Project life-cycle[edit]

The terms of reference are created during the earlier stages of project management by the founders of the project in question, immediately after the approval of a project business case. They are documented by the project manager and presented to the project sponsor or sponsors for approval. Once the terms have been approved, the members of the project team have a clear definition of the scope of the project. They will then be ready to progress with implementing the remaining project deliverables.

This phrase "terms of reference" often refers to the task(s) assigned to a consultant or advisor. Such a consultant or advisor may be engaged via a contract with general terms of engagement that also incorporate the terms of reference that specifically describe the consultant's task.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Love, Arnold J. (1991). Internal Evaluation: Building Organizations from Within. Applied Social Research Methods. 24. SAGE. p. 47. ISBN 9780803932012. Retrieved 2016-06-26. The diagnosis phase should end with the drafting of a Terms of Reference (TOR). The TOR is a detailed written description of the specifications for the evaluation. 
  2. ^ "Definition: Terms of Reference". 2017. 
  3. ^ "What is a Terms of Reference?". pmtips. Retrieved 2017-06-28.