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1.0       Initiating


Recognizing that a project or phase should begin and committing to do so.


Here is where the initial business need is established, the primary roles and responsibilities for a project are defined, and initial resources are assigned.  In this phase the business goals are defined.  They are established from the business needs of the organization and will be refined and made specific during the Executing phase.  The project charter is created to direct the Project Team in planning the project or next phase of a large project.  Approval to start a project is obtained along with a commitment of future resources for the job ahead. 

The initial Project Leadership Team to support and facilitate the project is defined.  Four key leadership roles typically defined and agreed upon before the project starts the planning phase are the project sponsor, the project steering committee, the project manager, and in some cases the technical lead. A general approach or life cycle model is chosen for planning and executing the project.  The amount and level of project controls are identified based on project risk and complexity.  The Project Leadership Team’s agreement on lifecycle model and project controls focus how the project is planned, controlled, and executed.

The deliverables of the initiating phase provide all affected participants with a common point of reference and reduce risk of project misunderstanding when the project is underway. 


1.    To obtain a common understanding of the business need or issue to be resolved by the project or phase.

2.    To provide clear and, as far as possible, verifiable or quantifiable business objectives that a solution must deliver.

3.    To provide a high level understanding of the organizations readiness for change and the level of impact this project will have on the organization.

4.    To provide the initial scope on which the project will be planned.

5.    To obtain sponsorship, organizational commitment, and assign key leadership roles.

6.    To obtain an agreement on how the project will be planned and managed.

Initiation Lessons

Common lessons learned from skipping or poorly executing the initiation phase are:

·         Disagreement or dissatisfaction with/from the customer on what was to be delivered.

·         Inability to distinguish if the business issue or need has been resolved – or what constitutes the end of a project or phase.

·         Inadequate or unknown sponsorship and leadership direction.

·         Severely over planned or under planned project.

·         Severely lengthening the time it takes to plan a project.

·         Organization is not ready for and/or does not accept the delivered project due to resistance to change

Inputs to Initiation





1.    Product Description or DEPARTMENTAL Business Case.  The product description or business case documents the characteristics of the product or service that the project is to create.   

2.    Strategic Plans.  All work requests should be supportive of the DEPARTMENTAL Strategic Business Plan– the strategic plans of DEPARTMENTAL should be considered as a factor in choosing to move forward with a project.

3.    Project Selection Criteria.  Criteria that aids in determining:

·         If a piece of work should be managed as a project.

·         The Level of potential project complexity, risk, and size.

·         The level of project management required.

·         The level of business change management required.

4.    Historical Information.  Information pertaining to prior projects or related work should be considered to the extent available.  When initiation involves approval for the next phase of a project, information about the results of previous phases is often critical.



Initiating -Process Activities

The process is a course of proven actions used to guide the organization through the initiating phase.  Performing these activities has been proven to reduce the amount of risk and rework in later phases of a project.

It’s a work process – not document creation

Performing the process is the primary effort, not creating a document.  Creating the document or deliverable is secondary.

The processes are intended to obtain a common understanding and agreement.  Writing the information down informally (white board, e-mail, notes) facilitates the evolution of a common understanding and agreement. 

Once broad understanding is obtained, formulating an accurate, concise, and readable deliverable from the information is appropriate.  Using a deliverable template provides an organizationally consistent method to document project information.

The process activities are diagramed and then followed by brief discussion of each activity.  The diagram is numbered to correspond to the “Project Management – Overview Reference” located in the Introduction of this process guide. 

Each process step number and title is indicated in bold in the left hand column.  In addition to the title the recommended template to document the outcomes of the process step is indicated in parentheses. 


Each of the activities are briefly described below:

1.      Identify the Business Requirement


The purpose of this activity is to quickly establish a common understanding of the business need or problem to be resolved between the initial champion(s) of the idea and OIS.  These efforts are best achieved first informally (e-mail, notes, etc.), and then more formally by recording the outcomes in the product description template for future reference and as an aid in decision-making.

Establishing a common understanding involves discussing and confirming the need for the product or service, defining--in broad terms the expected end result, as well as the benefit to be obtained by producing a solution.  The bulk of this information should be obtained in a single informal meeting. 

Once an initial understanding of the request is established, a simple assessment of the work complexity is conducted to determine if the risks warrant managing it as a project and how much project management should be applied.

It is best to summarize the results of these two activities to take to an appropriate level of management within the organization in order to obtain a decision chartering the effort as a project.  An Executive Summary, which provides the main points of the product description and assessment results, is prepared to request decision. 

It is important to note that the goal of this activity is to avoid spending a lot of time and resources to get to this point in the process.

2.      Present Concept for Management Approval


The next step is to get concurrence that the concept should move on into a planned work effort, or be canceled or shelved until a later point in time.

The concept is then presented to management.  In some cases this may be an escalation of presentations, i.e. business management, Executive Staff, Steering Committee.  In other cases it will be a meeting between an Dept. manager, and business manager. 

The Executive Summary is presented for a “go/no go” decision to charter a project or a phase of a project.  It is suggested that when presenting the Executive Summary you include a cover page that identifies the decision desired/needed from the person or group.  A template “Decision Request” is optional.  It can be found in the section tabbed “Controlling Templates.”

In addition to getting a decision to proceed with chartering a project, a single sponsor and project planner should be assigned at minimum.

3.      Obtain Authorities for a project


The final activity is to obtain agreements on how the project should be planned and managed.  The sponsor and project manager work together to create a project charter. 

The agreements to be obtained include reasonable amounts of planning and controls for the project.  The Business and Technical Complexity assessment gives guidelines to assist in selecting the appropriate levels of planning and controls. 

Funding source(s) and budget authority must be established.  If project is to be government funded, please review local laws.

Other groups that are to be involved with the project must be identified and notified that they will be included:

·     A project charter is created to obtain agreements on:

·     The level and amount of planning and controls.

·     IPMThe funding source(s) and budget authority.

·     Other group involvement.

·     Assignment of resources to complete planning activities.

Output from Initiation

1.    Charter Updated and Signed.  The product charter confirms agreement on the business goal and need that gave rise to the project, (i.e. change in business, technological advance, legal requirement, problem, or opportunity).  It includes the primary product objectives in support of the business goal and need that will be a measure of the project’s success as well as initial insights into the complexity of the effort and the potential change impact to the business.  A signed project charter formally recognizes the existence of a project.  It provides the project manager and project team with clear guidance on how the project should be planned and managed.  It describes primary roles, responsibilities, and authority.

2.    Project Leadership Team Identified/Assigned.  In general, the leadership team should be identified and assigned as early in the project as feasible.  Preferably before much project planning has been done.

3.    Constraints.  The factors that limit the project leadership team’s options regarding scope, staffing, scheduling, and management of the project.

4.    Assumptions.  The factors that, for planning purposes, will be considered to be true, real, or certain.  For example, if the date that a key person will become available is uncertain, the team may assume a specific start date.

Tools and Techniques

The tools and techniques of the Initiating Phase assist the organization in assessing if a piece of work should be managed as a project, as well as what the potential project’s initial complexity, risk, and size are.  The assessment is used to forecast the amount and level of planning and controls needed for a project, the expertise of the staff required, and the level of senior management involvement.  It helps determine when a large or very risky project should be scoped and chartered to deliver one phase at a time.  These techniques are used very early in the project with very limited data and the results are used to charter the project.

1.    Expert Judgment.  Expertise on assessing a project may be provided by a group or individual with specialized knowledge in project management.  The expert(s) must be able to, with limited information, judge the complexities of a potential project and make a solid recommendation of the amount and level of planning and controls needed for the potential project.  A project may use expert consulting in lieu of a complexity assessment as long as the expert(s) is/are recognized by the organization as such. 

2.    Business and Technical Complexity Assessment.  A simple assessment of both the business complexity and the technical complexity of a potential project.  It is designed to take an individual or group 15 minutes to complete.  It is an exercise that has the participant rate 7-8 business complexity attributes and technical complexity attributes on a scale from one to five. 

Once the ratings have been determined, a trend can be obtained for both the business complexity and technical complexity. 






















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