Initiate begins with the identification and establishment of expected project objectives, roles and outcomes. In the Initiate phase, creating a good foundation leads to project success. The project team, sponsor and business organization, and external stakeholders must agree upon a vision of what is being undertaken, and understand what to expect as the project takes shape; as well as achieve clarity on each group’s roles and responsibilities. In this phase, the project is formally initiated through the completion foundational deliverables.
The sponsor and project manager work together (or with a change manager) to develop the sponsorship model. This is a representative of sponsors within the organization and it illustrates who has direct responsibility for ensuring that the organization’s business needs are met by the project. A sponsor—at any level—maintains a leading and very active role from the perspective of the governance program area that the project enables, supports, or enhances. For enterprise scale or complex projects, the sponsorship model may contain a sponsor coalition which has several sponsors, each representing discrete program areas. Developing a sponsor coalition does not reduce the role of the project sponsor.
During identification of the sponsorship model, the sponsor and project manager also identify stakeholders and their interest and potential role in the project. The sponsorship model and stakeholders are documented in the project record using the stakeholder register tool or other similar templates.
The sponsor and project manager form a steering committee. Steering committees may serve as an advisor to the project sponsor or serve as the final authority for major project decisions. Factors to be considered in forming the steering committee include the number of separate business entities or stakeholder groups, how the needs of the separate entities or groups are to be represented and integrated in shaping the overall project approach, and the general size and complexity of the project. Guidance related to selecting and seating your steering committee, as well as meetings and steering committee operating principles are included in the Steering Committee Guide and steering committee operating principles template. The steering committee operating principles, along with meeting agendas and minutes, should be maintained as part of your project documentation.
The project vision statement developed during Concept should be reviewed and discussed with the sponsor coalition and steering committee to ensure broad acceptance of the project vision. This discussion, any amendments, and final acceptance should be documented and retained in the project record.
The project manager, with the assistance of the sponsor, completes the project charter template which is then approved by the steering committee. A charter is a formal document providing authority to the project manager to conduct a project within scope, quality, time, cost, and resource constraints as described in the document. The charter is maintained in the project documentation.
The project manager, with the assistance of the sponsor, creates the RACI matrix which is then reviewed with the steering committee. The RACI matrix identifies the phase phases, lists the deliverables for each phase, and responsibilities (such as approver, signatory, responsible, or informed) of various stakeholders with respect to those deliverables. RACI is an acronym based on four key types of responsibilities that are described in the matrix: responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed. The RACI matrix tool or a similar template can be used to document the RACI. T
The project manager and sponsor complete a risk register which is documented in the risk analysis toolkit. The risk register and associated analysis helps identify risks that are likely to affect the project and documents the characteristics of each risk. Risk analysis addresses both internal and external risks. It also documents the potential impact or consequences (tangible or intangible), either positive or negative, should the risk occur. Risks are usually categorized as high, medium, or low likelihood and impact. The project manager and sponsor also prepare the risk management plan and mitigation responses to help manage risks and prevent them from becoming issues and to project how the project team will respond if a risks becomes an issue.
As risks materialize, they may be classified as issues and worked as part of the project plan. Good risk identification and management helps projects be more successful in completing on time, on budget and with the desired outcomes. The risk register can be created in your project management software or the risk register toolkit.
The project manager and sponsor also document known dependencies, constraints and assumptions and include these in the project record. Dependencies, constraints, and assumptions should be discussed with the project team and, if material, with the steering committee and should be accommodated in the project plan. Dependencies can be documented in the corresponding task in your project management software or may be included as added tabs or separate spreadsheets in a format like the risk register.
The project manager completes resource estimates using either an agency specific template or the resource estimating toolkit. The toolkit workbook contains estimated costs for everything necessary to complete a project: hardware, software, personnel, consultants, facilities, etc.. The projection is performed early in the project to provide a reference point but is refined (and discussed with the sponsor and steering committee) throughout the project.
The initial projections should be a rough order or magnitude with an expected deviation of +- 50%. At the conclusion of PLAN, this deviation should drop to around +-25% and, after sourcing, should be within +-10% of final costs. At the conclusion of PLAN, change orders are used to manage changes to cost, scope, and/or schedule. The resource estimating toolkit or a similar template should be maintained in the project documentation.
Using known factors about the project and the standard project plan template, the project manager drafts the work breakdown structure (WBS) and critical path. The WBS is a depiction of the logical relationship between and among tasks in a project. The critical path sequences activities that have the least amount of schedule flexibility (showing the shortest time to completion). The project manager and sponsor confer on the WBS and critical path and discuss it with the steering committee. If you have been using Workfront, the Value Management Project Plan may have been the template you used to create the project. If you are using a different project management software, please import the steps in the template in to your project management tool so that key steps associated with benefits realization are not omitted. Highlight your critical path and include a pdf of the plan and critical path in your phase review information.
The sponsor approves the required deliverables and the project manager submits the deliverables to agency governance for review. The Initiate phase review is a formal examination of the INITIATE deliverables to ensure the foundation of the project has been established and the supporting information to promote advancement to the next phase is completed.
The project team receives a confirmation of receipt of deliverables and, upon completion of the review, a disposition. At the completion of the INITIATE phase, approval to proceed by governance releases funding for the PLAN phase.