The project initiation phase begins with an idea for a venture. It ends, however, with a binding decision to start the project. Before the time comes to plan the budget, select the method of implementation and the composition of the team, the Project Manager prepares an outline of the vision and goal of the project. So what needs special attention during the initiation phase?
Project initiation phase – table of contents:
- Documents and stakeholders
- Determine how to manage the new project
- From initiation to planning
The project initiation phase takes place only once, regardless of the implementation method. Its purpose is to define what the project is about. It is also the best time to abandon a project if there are serious doubts about its possibility of completion. At this early stage, the organization will not incur great costs, while it is relatively easy for the Project Manager to part with a still sketchy project. However, if a new project seems promising, what is worth paying attention to during its initiation phase?
Documents and stakeholders
After the first arrangements, it’s time to make a feasibility study and a project charter. The first document will determine the chances of success of our venture. While in the second the Project Manager will write a sketchy framework for the venture. Although still devoid of details, it is these two documents that will serve to convince stakeholders that the new project is worth pursuing.
But who needs to be convinced? This is also determined by the project initiation phase, where the stakeholder register is put down. This is a list of people directly related to the project, i.e. representatives of the client, the organization’s board of directors, or potential contractors, among others. However, the stakeholders may include people who will indirectly become affected by the implementation of our project. These could be, for example, the residents of the street where we will be carrying out the work, or the employees of the customer service department where we will be implementing the automation. They will not be involved in the project, but our actions will change their living or working environment.
Determine how to manage the new project
But who is involved in preparing plans for the new venture? The Project Manager is primarily responsible for them. He or she set up contact with the people who will oversee the execution of the project and establishes with them, among other things, such issues as:
- ways of communication – formal, such as reporting, and informal, such as asking questions about ongoing issues in project planning and implementation
- tolerance ranges – for example, for the budget and lead time of a planned project, or the risks taken.
If more people on the board will be involved in the project, sometimes a meeting called an initiation meeting is held for this purpose. It usually takes place when the Project Manager has already finished working on the first versions of the documents we wrote about above:
- feasibility study
- project charter
- stakeholder register, and sometimes a preliminary version of the
- risk factor register.
From initiation to planning
The easiest way to indicate the difference between project initiation and planning is to ask the key questions that need to be answered in both stages. Their comparison is shown in the table below:
|INITIATION PHASE||PLANNING PHASE|
|What is the vision of the project?||What is the start date of the project?|
|What is the goal of the project?||When are we going to realize the first milestone?|
|What will the implementation of the project change in the organization or in the customer?||Which team member will be responsible for change management?|
|Will it be profitable to implement the project?||How much of the budget should be allocated for testing?|
|How high is the risk of project failure?||Does the increased risk during Task A jeopardize the performance of Task B?|
Planning is more detailed – it tends to answer questions about how to do something, as well as facts about the timing of implementation and budget. Initiation, on the other hand, focuses on questions about the overall purpose and meaning, as well as the feasibility of the project as a whole.
Although planning often takes place concurrently within the initiation phase and before the project is formally launched, these two areas of the project have different scope. The planning stage may recur many times during the project. This is because it concerns how and in what order specific tasks happen and objectives leading to the achievement of the project goal become implemented. The initiation stage, on the other hand, focuses on defining the project goal and assessing whether its implementation is possible and sensible at all. If so, part of that stage includes also convincing key stakeholders.
In the project initiation phase, repeatedly ask the most fundamental question: does it make sense to implement this project? After all, once given, the final answer will complete and lock, so to speak, the initiation stage. This will determine the direction and scope of the project team’s work for the entire duration of the planned activities.
To make the right choice, it is worthwhile to devote energy to diligently preparing documents and establishing a clear way to manage the new project. These investments are sure to pay off in the next stages of its implementation.
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The most important questions
Does the project initiation phase also have other names?
Depending on the management methodology, it is also called “starting the project.” It is also sometimes divided into project preparation and project initiation phases, as in PRINCE2. In agile methodologies, on the other hand, it is sometimes referred to as the pre-project phase, when production of the product has not yet begun.
Getting started with project management:
- What is a project?
- What is project management?
- How to manage projects?
- Project management methods
- Types of projects
- 4 examples of projects
- Prioritization of projects
- Areas of project activity
- Definition of success in project management
- Why use project management software?
- How to choose the best project management software?
- Overview of project management software
- Project life cycle
- What is the project vision for?
- Project goal. What is it and how to define it well?
- Project initiation phase - what to pay attention to?
- The domain of planning in project management
- What is a project schedule and what is it for?
- How to use milestones in a project?
- Project execution
- How to prepare a successful project contingency plan?
- Importance of project closure
- Project failure. 5 reasons why projects fail
- 4P of management: project, product, program and portfolio
- Most important tasks and responsibilities of the Project Manager
- Most useful project manager skills
- How to become a project manager?
- 5 books every project manager should read
- How to set up a project team?
- Work breakdown structure - how to delegate work in a project?
- How to lead a team during hybrid work?
- Challenges project managers face when working with a team