21 Project Management Tips – Project Initiation

January 11, 2013

Project Management Lifecycle
Photo by IvanWalsh.com
It takes a solid foundation to make a beautiful building that is strong enough. A project manager gets a similar opportunity  during initiation phase, to lay a solid foundation of the project. There are numerous practices that can ensure you to build this foundation, but the core of it comes down to only a few handful actions. I am sharing the top 21 project management tips that can lead you to build a solid foundation during Project Initiation Phase.

  1. Articulate success criteria so that you know when you are done with the project.
  2. Identify when the project ends.
  3. In case the project duration is more than 3-4 months, it a phased delivery approach is ideal and project should be planned in phases.
  4. In case the project is longer than 6 months, try to explore the option to divide the project into multiple projects. When this is not possible, choose an execution strategy that delivers the project in smaller iterations. Smaller iterations are manageable and helps in achieving the project outcome relatively earlier.
  5. Identify the project stakeholders.
  6. Project Initiation is the right time to understand stakeholders. For the project to be successful, its important to classify the stakeholders based on their influence on the project, power and authority in the organization. Project will not be successful without their buy-in.
  7. Prepare a project charter with right project definition and business case.
  8. Create a high level project delivery plan considering the constraints about cost, time and quality. Put this plan in the charter.
  9. Ensure that the project charter is approved by stakeholders like sponsor, steering committee. The project charter, with a business case is your marching order.
  10. Conduct a high level project risk analysis. Any risk having impact of project delivery should have either mitigation or contingency plan. This risk must be communicated to the stakeholders and ideally should also be documented in the project charter.
  11. Prepare a project organization structure with clear roles and responsibilities chart. It should be clear who is and who is not in the team.
  12. Don’t forget to discuss and agree with team about roles and responsibilities.
  13. Plan to make a core team in the project. This helps a great deal, when you get into execution.
  14. Be clear about the budget that is allocated to your project.
  15. Plan about how you want to track the spending and report project costs.
  16. At this point, you should also be clear about how cost variance will be managed and reported.
  17. Understand high level scope. At this point, it may not be possible to know the full scope, but this is an ideal time to identify an overall scope of the project delivery.
  18. Identify the variance thresholds that must lead to re-planning of the project.
  19. Identify Assumptions. No matter how strong your business case is, the assumptions, when not identified, tested and verified, can lead to project failure resulting in significant cost impacts on the organizations.
  20. Communicate assumptions to the stakeholders. During initiation phase project charter is the right place to document assumptions that have an impact on project outcome.
  21. Identify constraints. Just like assumptions, a constraint that can lead to any impact on the project outcome, must be communicated to the stakeholders.

What is your best tip during project initiation? Say it below in comments

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