Every project has a life cycle that consists of six process groups. Before you start a project, there are things that you should take into consideration. These will affect the whole project, so a good beginning, in other words, a successful project initiation assures that your project will have a higher chance to go smoothly.
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So what is the project initiation phase? What should be done during this first project management process group? In this article, we are going to review the major outputs of project initiation phase, and also the reasons for starting the initiating process group. For detailed explanations about project initiation, check out our PMP Course or CAPM Training.
Briefly, the project initiation phase starts with authorizing the project and assignment of the Project Manager. A business case, market demand, social need etc. can cause the project initiation. After evaluation of the project, if the decision is to initiate the project, sponsor of the project authorizes the project and financially supports the project activities. Then, the organization assigns a project manager for this new project.
What are the Major Outputs of Project Initiation Phase?
Each phase of the project life cycle has different outcomes. What are major the outcomes of the project initiation phase? What should be completed during this project initiation process group to begin a project with success?
- Project Charter is one of the major outputs of the project initiation phase. Project charter describes high-level information about the project. It includes sponsor information, high-level scope, high-level risks, business need, project manager information, etc.
- Identified stakeholders is another output of the project initiation phase. The definition of stakeholder is “people or groups who might be affected by the outcomes of a project”. The management of powerful and influencing project stakeholders is crucial for a project’s success. Stakeholder analysis and identification are done during project initiation.
- Strategy for Managing Stakeholders is generated during project initiation as well. After stakeholders are identified and analyzed, proper stakeholder management strategy is generated respectively. For instance, an executive director that will decide whether the product of the project will be launched or not is a very critical stakeholder of the project. These kinds of stakeholders must be managed closely and their expectations must be satisfied to execute the project successfully.
Note that, project management processes are documented and controlled by the help of project management templates. You can see sample free project management templates to have an idea of how they work.
Project Management Requires Progressive Elaboration Beginning From the Project Initiation
Estimates, product scope, and some other steps might start in project initiation and be iterated in the project planning process. Because as long as the project progresses and new information about the project is collected, more accurate and precise planning can be done. Therefore, re-planning is done throughout the project.
Therefore, although Project Management Plan is finalized in the planning phase, detailed estimate, scope, and some other points might be clarified during executing process group or project monitoring & controlling phase. Because as long as the project work is accomplished, unclear points and ambiguities affecting to make a precise and accurate plan will be eliminated.
Assignment of the Project Manager in Project Initiation Phase
Assigning a project manager is another major output of the project initiation. The project manager is assigned early in the process. Because as long as a project is authorized, there will be lots of project management activities that needs to be coordinated and managed. The project manager will do these work for completing the project in a better way.
However, for many times this is not the case in the real world. In the real world, project managers are generally assigned when the project will start. Sometimes the project managers might have been assigned after the project started as well. Therefore, although theory states that project manager must be assigned as early as possible once the project is authorized, this might not be practical in the real world.
An Important Aspect of Project Initiation: The Business Case
The business case states the reason why the project is initiated. Therefore, the business case of the project must be considered throughout the project in all stages. Because if the business case cannot be addressed with the completion, the project will be considered as failed.
High-Level Planning Must Be Done During the Project Initiation
A High-level planning is done during initiating. This includes very high-level steps and deliverables of the project. Detailed planning is completed during the planning phase of the project.
- Creating high-level WBS is completed in project initiation phase. This high-level WBS includes major work packages and deliverables of the project. Detailed WBS is finalized during the planning phase.
- Order of magnitude estimation is done during the initiating process. Because there is very little information about the project and with the limited information and high-level assumptions, it is not possible to make accurate and precise estimations. Order of magnitude estimation has a variance of 50%. This means actual value of an estimation can reach 50% higher or lower of the estimation value.
- High-Level risks of the project are listed. If there are risk responses for these risks, these are documented as well. However, detailed risk identification and planning risk response strategies are done during planning.
What are the reasons to start the project initiation?
There are three main reasons. Business need, beginning a new phase of a project or re-evaluation of the business need:
- Business need, market demand, social need etc. are the reasons for project initiation. After the evaluation of the business need, if the senior management of the company decides to initiate the project, the project is authorized and the project manager is assigned respectively to manage and coordinate the project.
- If the project is a large project and if there are lots of phases, initiating process group is triggered at the beginning of each phase.
- And finally, initiating process group is triggered if there are so many problems or conflicts in a project and if the stakeholders start to criticize the business need. Because, if there are so many conflicts in a project, the reason why the project started might not be a valid case anymore. In this case, re-evaluation of the business case is done by re-initiating the initiating process group.