project-methodology-2Methodology for project initiation is a collaborated efforts. We are surrounded by people who are highly creative and energized.  These individuals deal with issues of varying types and magnitude on a daily basis, and they can be very imaginative in conceiving of solutions to the problems they face.  They may present these solutions to IS as potential projects.

Organizations may discover the need or benefit in pursuing a new initiative.  This may be due to an opening in the marketplace, the need for operational maintenance or the opportunity to create a strategic advantage.  Again, IS may be called upon to leverage the power of technology for the benefit of the organization through execution of a technology project.

Finally, organizations may be subjected to the demands of outside agencies.  For example, a local government may be on constant watch for new state legislation that can affect the way it does business.  Or a division of a large company may find it beneficial to adopt a new program that is sponsored by its corporate headquarters.  In each case, the organization in question may have to shuffle priorities and resources to handle new projects, and IS will have to find a way to make it all happen.

As we can see, projects may come about for a variety of reasons and they may present themselves at any time.  Generally, organizations find that there are many more ideas and demands for technology projects than there are people and dollars to support them.  Projects differ in the degree of benefit that they can bring to the organization, and the cost can vary widely.  Management generally recognizes that great care must be taken in deciding which projects to support, and which to defer.  Therefore, most organizations eventually discover that they need a process that will allow them to choose among the project candidates.

This selection process is carried out during Initiation.  The Initiation Process is that time in the lifecycle of a project when the project idea is defined, evaluated, authorized and then funded by an Executive Committee.  The Project Management Profession has learned that this process works best when the mission, justification, significant deliverables, risks, estimated cost and resource requirements and other information about the project are documented and reviewed in a formal manner.  This process gives executive management, the Sponsor and other stakeholders an opportunity to validate the projects potential benefits and costs.
The Initiation Process provides several benefits:

  • The Initiation process guides the project team as they determine and articulate those key aspects of a proposed project that will help in the decision process.
  • Careful development of Initiation’s key deliverable, the Project Charter, helps to ensure that the organization chooses the best of its project candidates, and that the technology projects chosen will be successful.
  • Development of the Project Charter also promotes an early collaboration between the Sponsor, the Client(s) and the project team.  Early establishment of a good rapport among these players can help ensure a cooperative spirit later in the project.
  • A well-written Project Charter can help everyone involved understand and come to agreement on exactly what is being proposed, the benefits that can be expected, the technical approach to be taken and how the project’s deliverables will fit into project-methodology-4ongoing operations.

The Initiation Process is successful when it leads the organization to select the most pressing business issues for resolution, choose effective technological approaches to resolve them, and ensures that the organization makes a good investment that is consistent with its long-term strategies.

project-methodology-3The amount of effort that goes into the Initiation Phase of a project will depend in some part on the size, complexity and risk of the proposed project.   We generally will need to know more about big projects that represent substantial investment than about small ones.  The total effort required to complete the Initiation Phase may range from hours to weeks.  So that effort is not wasted, it is essential to keep focus on the purpose of initiation: select those projects that give the biggest bang for the buck.  For this reason, it is useful to give formal guidance to project teams as to how much effort makes sense for projects of a given size.  This will help them to stay focused and provide the necessary information, rather than just hand in a lot of extraneous paperwork.