Terms of reference

Terms of reference (TOR) define the purpose and structure 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 as the project charter.

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.

Creating detailed terms of reference is critical, as they define the:

TORs should include:

Project life cycle

The "terms of reference" are created during the earlier stages of project management, immediately after the approval of a project business case. They are documented by the project manager and presented to 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 the creation of the remaining project deliverables.

This phrase is often used when describing the task that has been assigned to a consultant or advisor. As such, the consultant or advisor may be engaged via a contract with general terms of engagement that also incorporates the terms of reference that specifically describe the consultant's task.

See also


  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.
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