How to Start a Project: Complete Guide to Project Initiation
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The beginning of a project is the calm before the storm, or a mad rush to get everything sorted in time for the core work to begin. No matter how it happens, the beginning of a project is crucial to its success. There are many tasks that can impact the way your project develops. These include scoping and estimation, assigning resources, defining the requirements, briefing your team, and the first meeting with the client. Setting the tone for success is key.
I will provide you with the information and tools you need to get your project off to a good start.
I will walk you through the key aspects of the project initiation, how to prevent future challenges, set expectations, and what areas to focus on to help you succeed later. If you are interested in deeper understanding of topics, I have provided many links. You can also download a handy project initiation list to use at the beginning of any project.
What is the Project Initiation Phase?
Let’s start with Project Initiation. Let’s look at the life cycle of a project. No matter what your preferred method or process, every project must start somewhere. There are five main steps to any project: Initiating. Planning, Executing. Monitoring & Controlling. Closing. The initiating phase is where the project is launched, both with your team as well as with clients and other stakeholders. Any information you have (e.g. All information you have (e.g., pitch or request for proposal), from the client and any background research) will be gathered to help define the project’s scope and timings. This is where you identify your stakeholders, team, goals, objectives, and deliverables.
How to Start a Project and What do I need to do in the Project Initiation Phase.
The Project Initiation phase results in one of two documents, sometimes both. The Statement of Work (SoW) and the Project Initiation Documents (PID) are the two main documents that will be produced during the Project Initiation phase. It is a great way to focus on your Project Initiation, and to really drill down on the details for your project and one of these documents, is to go through it in terms three areas: People Processes, Product, and Products. These are the core of any project.
Let’s begin with the most important: people! You can’t create anything without them, right? !
Plan Your Team Shape
You will need to establish and define your team during the Project Initiation phase. First, review your project and all deliverables to determine the team structure you need. You should check availability and book your resource provisionally. You need to consider your skills and capabilities when deciding who to hire for a project. This is where you need to think about the client and stakeholders: How will your team members interact with them? When you are forming your team, go through the following checklist:
Skills (what skills will they need)
Experience (What will they need to have done before)
How will stakeholders communicate with each other?
Availability (will they have the time to devote)
Budget (can you afford them?
Don’t do it in isolation. If you have the opportunity to speak with them, ensure you don’t make assumptions about their discipline. It is a good idea to meet with the leads to go over the project and deliverables, and to get their input on the resource requirements. The above should help you form a team for your project. However, it is important to allow for some contingency time once you have planned.