Project Initiation

Project’s Initiation: Work Through in 4 Steps

If you don’t know where you are going. How can you expect to get there? – Basil S. Walsh

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project is more than management of resources and final deliverable.
 
It’s a systematic process that divides the work, to be done, in different milestones. And what’s more, they all come with deadlines. This is where the pressure builds on a project manager. Getting all tasks completed within the due dates can be a challenge.
 
Reason? There are many, from scope creep to an unexpected occurrence of risks. A project manager needs to make sure that a project is delivered in accordance to set quality standards and deadlines while these challenges try to hamper their workflow.
 
This is one of the major factors that lead experts to build various stages in a project’s lifecycle that simplify the work for all teams and stakeholders involved. In fact, it is subtle science behind the execution of all projects.  But whether a project manager is consciously using it or not depends on the final outcome.
 
Projects that are implemented through a systematic life cycle process tend to meet the final goal hassle-free. However, there are some projects where managers skip some crucial stages that later result in discrepancies. This is one of the reasons why every project is divided into distinct phases that must be executed in a sequential order to achieve desirable results.
 
Such stages are apart of a process called “Project Life Cycle”. This cycle is basically divided into four (or five depending on the method you use) stages that encompass other, smaller steps, which are needed to complete a project.
 
Let’s explore these stages below.

4 Stages of Project Life Cycle

  • The Initiation Phase– This is the starting point of any project, where a strategic goal is set and solutions to a problem are proposed. This phase also includes planning for resources that are required for the execution, as well as creating realistic deadlines. The best project managers know never to skip this phase, as it outlines the whole work that is to be done, but it is easy to understand why the value of this phase is sometimes, especially with smaller businesses, forgotten.
  • The Planning Phase– This phase happens when the project begins, when funds and resources are approved, and a more formal plan is created. Under this phase, a project manager will create more detailed milestones, deadlines and objectives that will lead up to the final deadline.
  • The Execution Phase– The execution phase is where the actual work is done on a project. It also incorporates activities like tracking the achieved milestones, as well as the need for resources and time spent so far. Some methods have another phase after the execution phase which is called “the Controlling Phase”. It focuses on current performance and schedule adjustment, but here it is incorporated in the execution phase.
  • The Closure Phase– Here, a project manager will simply take notes of how the project went, give performance reviews. Other than that, it also tracks how and when the goals have been met, and conduct an overall post-mortem. where they decide how did the team perform generally.

These stages surely present a systematic approach to getting the projects completed. However, there are instances where project managers skip the initiation phase and directly start off with the planning stage. This can happen due to the following reasons:

  1. The need to complete the project before the deadline.
  2. In case the deadline is not realistic and manager is forced to skip the stage from the fear of losing more time on it.

Except in these scenarios, the teams forget that questions answered during the initiation phase rise even when the project is in its execution stage. So, there is a reason why project managers should never skip the initiation phase.

Question – Is the Initiation Phase Trivial?

 
Project Initiation
To understand this, one must acknowledge that initiation phase may hold different meanings for different managers. In case of small projects, managers may consider this as a brown bag meeting where future goals are talked about in an informal setting.
 
However, it’s completely opposite in case of big projects. Here managers may rely on the initiation phase to deliver the project outline to the management in a more official form to acquire the needed funding and assets. Both approaches talk about the project’s objectives, required steps, as well as the limitations that might appear. And this only clarifies that the better the initiation phase, the better the project flow will be.
 
In case your team and you have been facing troubles working through the phase, then it’s important you adopt the following 4 steps.

Use these 4 Steps to Implement Project Initiation Phase Smoothly

  • Step 1: Know the Purpose of the Project Early
  • No matter if you’ve done something similar before, each project is unique. You must think about the why.Why this project and why now? What are the fuzzy goals we want to be achieved and how can we reach them?
     
    If you’ve done a project that was very similar, you might use that experience as a good starting point and shorten the initiation phase as much as possible. Just be sure not to underestimate the project and the hurdles that will most definitely appear.

  • Step 2: Think About the People and Assets Involved
  • You will need to carefully think about all the departments that will be involved and affected by this project, so feel free to reach out and ask for advice. This will ensure that your initial concept becomes much clearer, and you will get the initial input that will help you smooth some nooks and crannies.
     
    Think about the people who will be responsible for the project, those who will do the actual work on it, and those who will need to approve the work done and measure the results. And in case you’re worried on how to get so much managed hassle-free, then integrate the use of simple project management software. You can also get their opinion through the use of the software, and your project initiation phase will be half over.

  • Step 3: How Will the Success of the Project be Measured?
  • If you create a general idea of the project with clear goals and milestones, later on, that will be much easier to measure and generate a performance review, not only for the project leader but also for everyone involved.
     
    It is essential that you be realistic, not only with how you can help the project but also with how you think others will perform. Creating achievable goals and how they will be measured will decrease the likelihood of mistakes, or for the project going off the rails, so think about the closure phase and what you’d like to be mentioned here, even though the project has not even started.

  • Step 4: Identify Possible Problems, or Even Think of the 3 Most Likely Ones
  • A good project manager will know that something will go wrong and that you cannot control everything, but that is not a bad thing – that’s life and in business, it is no different. What you can control is how you predict those problems.
     
    Try and use your previous experience and think of the things that can go wrong. Even if everything might seem like an easy win, expect that someone will get sick, that a milestone will be missed – and create smaller backups for those cases. Planning for the unplanned is impossible, but good preparation goes a long way.

A Good Initiation Phase Will Define All the Future Phases of the Project

Project Initiation
With all this knowledge, the project will be approved much more quickly and the second, planning phase will be much easier for you and your team.
 
Sometimes, even the best project managers in the world clump the first two phases together – this saves them time, and they rely heavily on their experience. But even they know and understand that colleagues will appreciate a good initiation phase, as it will rely more on the gut-feelingand more on careful planning.
 

David is a technical writer, his works are regularly published in various papers and top-notch portals. His rich experience in Project management domain helps him offer latest and fresh perspective on improved efficiency in work flows across organizations. His informative works on similar lines can be reached out on ProProfs Project.

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