Project Initiation

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This subject covers the work undertaken to develop the concept of a project or program to the point where it can be formally initiated and the project, or program charter approved.

Topics included in Project Initiation:

- Initiation Overview
- Opportunity Identification
- Project or Program Initiation
 

Other related sections of the PMKI:

- Value and benefits realization
- Portfolio Management
- Project Governance
 
 


Initiation Overview

The purpose of initiation is to define as accurately as possible what the project has to deliver, knowing this is a critical step towards a successful outcome! It goes without saying the what should be aligned with and contribute to the strategic objectives of the organization (for more on this see Aligning Projects, Programs and Strategy). This aspect of governance is closely aligned with portfolio management  and is assisted by an effective project or program classification system.

Successful projects are set up to succeed; if the objectives assigned to the project are unrealistic, the project is highly likely to fail. If the organization commissions a project that has no value to the organization, the money spent will be wasted. If the organization fails to transfer its knowledge about the project to the project team, significant resources will be wasted duplicating work that’s already been done. Initiation, and in particular the development of the project charter starts the project integration management processes; the key elements of initiation are discussed in more detail below.

The two key questions that need to be answered before initiating a project are can we do it? and should we do it?. If there is any doubt about the first question a feasibility study is required, the question should we do it is answered by the Business Case. 

 

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Opportunity Identification

Opportunity

Project/Program identification including: Innovation, Initial requirements gathering (see Scope Management for this topic), Strategic alignment, Front end loading, Viability, and Feasibility.

Strategic alignment: All projects should support the organization's strategic goals. It is important to consider the strategic plan when making decisions about which projects should be approved and funded. There should be a prioritization process based on strategic goals that will guide the organization and its managers to make decisions about which projects and programs will be approved and therefore funded and resourced, and which will be rejected. While the decision to proceed, and the consideration of strategic alignment, occur prior to the selection of a project and appointment of the project manager, the project manager needs to be aware of these factors and consider them in all subsequent project decisions (for more on this see Aligning Projects, Programs and Strategy).

WP: Feasibility Studies. A Feasibility Study asks the question ‘can we do this?’ it should be a precursor to finalizing the business case which addresses the question should we do this?.

WP: Project Definition. Defining the project's objectives to ensure it creates the 'right' deliverables based on the client's requirements.

Blg: When does a project start and end? Looks at the issues around defining the point in time a project starts and more importantly, the point in time a project manager's responsibilities end.  

PP: The Project Start-Up Conundrum. The conundrum is: That at the time when the project team can exert the greatest influence on a projects overall success (for the lowest cost), the team itself is at its least effective!!!

WP: Project Size and Categorization. Each project is uniquely different a classification system helps group projects by type, size and difficulty.

Programs, including defining size and classification are covered in the Program Management section of this website.

Requirements gathering is covered in the Scope Management section of this website.

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Project or Program Initiation

Initiation

Project initiation consists of the processes within the performing organization that facilitate the formal authorization to start a new project or move to a new project phase. It is primarily an organizational activity to:

  • Define a project (or phase) and set its goals, objectives and success criteria
  • Facilitate the formal authorization to start the project (or project phase)
  • Transfer knowledge and information from the organization to the project.

These processes should be focused on improving a project’s chance of success, but most of the work is dome before the project manager is appointed. The PMs responsibility is to make sure the initiation has been dome correctly and the project objectives are achievable.

Deciding which projects to fund, which to defer, and which to cancel or ignore, is the core function of Portfolio Management. These decisions are based on the Business Case for new initiatives and on the current project reports for active projects (see more on Portfolio Management).

Documentation to initiate a project or program includes: the Business Case and the Project/Program Charter.

WP: Developing a Business Case. The Business Case is one of the most critical steps in the Project Life Cycle; it defines the overall value proposition for undertaking the project. The business case should define the value the project will create if successful, to justify its cost.

WP: Defining the Project Charter. The charter defines the project vision and objectives and summarizes the overall project strategy, scope, organization and implementation.This includes defining the project boundaries and authority levels delegated to the project managers.

Project CharterProject Charter Template. Used in our PMP and CAPM courses can be viewed (free demo) and purchased from our web shop - an easy to use Word template designed to make writing your project charter easy:
- Add or remove sections.
- Guidance on what to include in each section.
- Replace our logo with your business logo.
This is a very robust, easy to use tool that ensures that your project charters are complete and accurate.

Value and Benefits

The relationship between outputs, outcomes, benefits and value and the role of the project or program in facilitating this are covered in the Value and Benefits Realization section of this website.

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