Project Selection and Initiation

Initiating is the process that starts the project.

There are several reasons a project is undertaken. It is beneficial to take time to understand those reasons, it can contribute to the success of the Project.

Some of the reasons a Project is initiated is:

  • Organizational Need – if the organization needs a new software that will help save costs
  • Market Demand -  Identifying a market need that can be satisfied through a project
  • Legal Requirement – New laws or regulations give rise to a new project
  • Technological Advancement – New technological discoveries spur the new need for a new project
  • Ecological Impact – Undertaking projects to reduce their carbon footprint.

Project Selection

An organization will generally select projects that provide monetary gains. Some of the selection methods that are used:

  • Opportunity Cost – looks at the cost of other opportunities that were passed up by taking on the current project
  • Benefit Cost Ratio - Benefits must outweigh the costs
  • Economic Value Add – looks at how much value a project, more specifically how much wealth was created or lost over a period. If the project does not make more money than those opportunity costs, than it did not add economic value to the organization
  • Payback Period – how long will it take to recoup an investment in a project

Business Case

The business case identifies the reason for the project’s undertaking. The business case supports the business need. It should be adaptable to align with the strategic goals of the company.

When companies do not establish the business case, in most instances, the project manager will find that it does not have the required support from the stakeholders, the scope is not adequately defined. This will lead to rework, and in the end, the solution provided does not meet the stakeholder’s requirements as well as did not address the root cause of the issue. For example, a change is required, and rather than adequately defining the business case, a solution is used to justify the need for the project. The finished product ends up remaining unused as it did not deliver the expected benefits.

Feasibility Study

Once a business case has been approved, a feasibility study is conducted what would it take to complete a successful project. In addition, other solutions should be reviewed identified, if possible.

When do project start? Review of the project life cycle

A project usually starts with the start of a Project Charter. A project charter outlines the purpose for the project and how it will be structured and executed. In it, the vision, objectives, scope and deliverables for the project are all detailed. Responsibilities for the project team and stakeholders are also described.

The Project Life Cycle usually consists of four phases, initiation, planning, execution, and closure. These 4 phases combined represent the path that a project takes from start to finish.

During the initiation phase, the project need is identified; which will be documented in the project charter and must relate back to the business case. The next step is to conduct a feasibility study to determine if the project can be done and does it make good business sense to move forward with the project.

The subsequent phase, the planning phase, the undertaking answer is expanded, and details are introduced to become aware of the step crucial to meet the project’s objective. Scope, Cost and Time are defined. A project plan is beginning to take shape and outlines the project schedule and activities along with the project budget.

Once the scope, cost and time has been established, it is time to focus on risk management. Risk management is identifying the potential threats and the probability of their occurrence.  A response to each risk identified should also be documented.  This is an ideal time rope in all the stakeholders and review the plan of communication to ensure all the stakeholders are kept abreast of the project progress.

Execution Phase

During execution, the project work is executed. The project manager continues to monitor and control the project. They continuously monitor the project performance against the approved project plan. Along with the project team, the project results are reviewed and any issues are bought to light. Approved changes are carried out and the project plan is updated.  Corrective action is taken when needed. The status of the project is constantly communicated to the stakeholders.

Status reports should always emphasize the anticipated end point in terms of cost, schedule, and quality of deliverables. Each project deliverable produced should be reviewed for quality and measured against the acceptance criteria. Once all the deliverables have been produced and the customer has accepted the final solution, the project is ready for closure.

Closing Phase

Amid the last conclusion, or culmination stage, the accentuation is on discharging the last expectations to the client, giving over venture documentation to the business, ending provider contracts, discharging venture assets, and conveying the conclusion of the undertaking to all partners. The final advance is to lead exercises learned investigations to inspect what went well and what didn't. Through this kind of examination, the knowledge of experience is exchanged back to the venture association, which will help future task groups.

Closing the project focuses on delivering the final deliverables to customer. This entails providing final project documentation, closing all contracts, and officially releasing the resources. It is vital to update the historical information and add to the lessons learned. This information will prove useful for future projects.

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning determines how and where funding should be spent during the project. It layouts the ground work for a successful project. The primary goal of strategic planning it to see beyond the current and project and create a plan that will work for future endeavors.

Should a Project Manager be involved in strategic planning? The answer is yes. Those responsible for strategic planning in an organization understand the importance of considering all the views from the stakeholders. However, they do not have the expertise in project management. They may understand what financial planning is required as well as how to set the project objective but would not understand the complexity of managing a project. The failure to get a project manager on the strategic planning team who understands the reality of managing complex projects is the single largest failure of the strategic planning industry.