Key Steps in Initiating a Project

Key Steps in Initiating a Project
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  • 0:00 What Is Project Initiation?
  • 1:38 Business Case &…
  • 3:06 Project Charter &…
  • 4:12 Project Team & Project Office
  • 5:03 Review Project & Gain Approval
  • 5:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Carl Lovell, PMP

Carl has taught grad-level college Project Management and Quality. He holds a Masters degree in Business and is a certified Project Management Professional.

As in life, success in business projects is determined by the effort put forth in planning or initiating an activity. This lesson will cover the key steps in the project initiation process.

What Is Project Initiation?

Have you ever planned a study group and no one showed up? Have you been directed to lead a project but cannot get any organizational support? Observing the key steps for project initiation will ensure a clear justification for the project, formal authorization to perform the work, and the authority to apply organizational resources to the work. Formal authorization and a clear need for the project will minimize the issue of staff not showing up when planned or support organizations not providing the level of support needed for the project.

There are a few key steps to initiating a project. Let's go through them:

  1. Develop a business case to establish the benefits and costs associated with the work to be performed
  2. Do a feasibility study to identify project constraints, alternatives, and related assumptions
  3. Establish the project charter to provide formal authorization to perform the work and the authority to assign organizational resources to the work
  4. Identify stakeholders to consider the perspective of anyone who may have a vested interest in the project or project outcome
  5. Appoint the project team and set up the project office to identify personnel with the talents and skills to deliver the project
  6. Review the project and gain approval for the next phase to ensure project sponsor and/or customer approval to proceed

By documenting and cataloging these key initiating steps, the project key players can reference the foundational decisions throughout the project life cycle.

Business Case

When we start a business, we have a specific market segment identified and have a desire to create an ongoing enterprise. We document the market segment and ongoing nature of our enterprise in a business plan. A key step in initiating a project is developing a business case for the project.

In building the business case for a project, we are documenting how the project connects with our business plan and strategy to move our business forward. The key elements to consider in building a business case include:

  • Market demand
  • Technology advancement
  • Legal requirements
  • Organizational need
  • Social need
  • Ecological impact

In each area examined in the business case, we need to consider the risk as well as the benefit. Often the level of risk to the ongoing nature of the enterprise may indicate that now is not the time for investing in the proposed project.

Feasibility Study

The project feasibility study will have four primary components:

  1. A business problem description
  2. An overview of the approach
  3. Potential solutions for the problem
  4. Preliminary recommendations

It is important that the details remain at a high enough level that it does not result in design activities associated with the project or product deliverables commencing.

The purpose of the feasibility study is to identify project constraints, alternatives, and related assumptions as they apply to the project deliverables. The study document can be abstracted without following a specified format, but it should not be overlooked.

Project Charter

The project charter establishes a formal relationship between the project performer and the project sponsor and/or customer. This relationship generally takes the form of an organizational agreement when projects are performed within a company or a formal contract when projects are performed for external customers. The project charter documents agreement on project elements such as project start and end dates, project boundaries, and a direct way for the project to be authorized by senior management.

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