Whatever your chosen technique or methodology, every project has to start somewhere. A project goes through five stages, also known as the Project Life Cycle (PLC). These stages include Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing. The Project initiation is where the project is kicked off with your clients, team, and stakeholders. Further, the relevant information is collected through the pitch stage to define the project scope, deadlines, and cost. This is the core setup for your project since you identify team, objectives, goals, and deliverables.
The consequence of the project initiation stage is either of these documents: the Statement of Work (SoW) and the Project Initiation Document (PID). A great way to emphasize your project initiation is to drill down essential details of the work in terms of three areas. These include people, process, and product. Such details are essential for any project.
This is one of the most essential parts since you can’t complete your project without them. It includes your team members and stakeholders.
1. Your Team:
It includes keeping everyone in your team updated on important project details. Further, you should define your team. You can do this by first reviewing project deliverables and then working out what team shape you need. Your project team should only consist of people that have a role to play in the project.
Defining your team composition will include listing tasks, determining resources and skills. This will allow you to negotiate with other teams for resource access. Moreover, you can also see if you need to hire a dedicated person for this project if necessary. Next, go through the checklist when forming your team:
- Skills needed for this project
- Experience of your team
- Ability to communicate with stakeholders
- Availability of your team members
Remember, it is recommended that you hold a meeting with your lead to run the project and key deliverables. Furthermore, leave some contingency time after the planning stage in case you need to outsource freelancers and contractors for your project.
This will include everyone outside your team that will be affected by the project’s success or failure. For project initiation, defining and outlining the stakeholder’s involvement is crucial. These may include senior executives, external clients, the government, and the general public.
Whether it is the internal stakeholders or the client, it is important to effectively communicate the project progress, give feedback, and much more. Thus, you should use a communication tool like ClientBuddha.
ClientBuddha lets you instantly schedule essential tasks, events with your Google Calendar. Further, you can also start a Zoom meeting from within your calendar.
Some other things that you can run by stakeholders in online meetings include roles and responsibilities, deliverables, timings, cost, risks, dependencies, assumptions, and team shape.
After people, the process is the next essential element. It is crucial to set out your project processes at the beginning so that there are clear parameters for you, your team, and your client to follow. It includes project charter, appropriate tools, and risks.
1. Project Charter:
The project charter is one of the most comprehensive elements of the project initiation process. It defines how the project will be structured and executed. Further, it identifies the scope, team members, and timeframe of the project. Additionally, it also defines the constraints, goals of the project, project scope, and list of resources needed for project completion. You can use the following questions to help you develop a project charter:
- What is the size of your project?
- What team members will work on this project?
- How fixed are the timings, budget, scope?
- Is your team full-time or part-time?
- What is the client’s role in this project?
- Will you have an invested client project lead?
Using answers to these questions will give you a clear idea of the type of your project. For instance, if you have a full-time dedicated team with an invested client project lead, then your project will be Agile-style, and so on.
2. Appropriate Tools:
Using the right tools can have a positive impact on your project. However, using unnecessary tools can prove counterproductive. The tools you need will vary according to the project needs and requirements. For software projects, a dedicated team will use a testing toolkit and a coding environment while a creative project may need a video, layout editor, and an audio manipulation tool. Some tools that you can consider for your project include:
- Resource planning and management, e.g., Resource Guru
- Project management, e.g., Microsoft Project, Gantt Pro
- Collaboration with stakeholders, e.g., ClientBuddha, Google Sheets.
- Communication with team members, e.g., Slack, ClientBuddha
- Project managing internal tasks, e.g., ClientBuddha, Trello, Jira
Whichever tools you use, make sure that your internal team and stakeholders are both in agreement. Furthermore, you should know how to use these tools effectively.
Google Sheets can simplify a lot of your work processes. In addition, ClientBuddha is not only a project management software but an all-in-one CRM, HRM, and billing tool that covers the most ground among all the tools we listed above. You can boost your collaboration by sharing files, notes, comments, and feedback with relevant team members.
To see the platform in action, start your FREE trial of ClientBuddha today!
Planning is one of the best things you can do in the project initiation stage. Establishing risks upfront that might affect your project delivery is important. Risk management includes determining factors that pose a risk and finding steps to mitigate their effects. You can conduct a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats).
Similarly, you can focus on weaknesses of your project team such as lack of technical knowledge and threat faced by your project. Threats may include competing products and external factors. Furthermore, you can create a RAID log to highlight Risks, Assumptions, Issues, and Dependencies instead of a SWOT analysis. Don’t forget to involve your team by conducting a brainstorming session where your team comes with new ideas.
Ultimately, the product is what you are creating. Some of the core areas to be set within the project initiation stage includes requirements, scope, budget and timeline, final review.
Fundamentally, it is essential to gather project requirements before kicking off the project. This will include what the client and users need. Besides, it also gives you a clear understanding of the context and background of the project.
The project’s scope refers to identifying the project’s objectives, establishing parameters, and assigning tasks. After you have identified your project’s scope, schedule an online meeting to go through the deliverables with your team. Make sure to get your team’s input since determining in isolation will not increase your team’s involvement. However, learn how to manage scope creep since it will affect your budget, deadline, and overall project quality.
3. Budget and Deadline:
Following on from your scope and deliverables, now you have a rough project scope and should assign deadlines and roles against it. You may decide to work in Sprints or phases with sign-offs depending on your work operations. Don’t force a process onto a project but make sure it fits your project perfectly. Next, put costs against it.
4. Final Review:
After the budget and deadline phase, it is recommended that you review the entire project initiation stage to ensure that nothing slips through the crack. You should monitor everything. Create measurement criteria that will help you review everything at the end. Consider key areas such as:
- Deadline variation
- Budget variation
- Core KPIs such as increasing website traffic, sales
- Team satisfaction
- Client satisfaction
To sum it up, the project initiation phase will ensure that your project runs as smoothly as possible. To facilitate your team during the entire PLC, there are various innovative tools available in the market. However, as a project manager, you’ll get more mileage out of an all-in-one CRM, project management, HR, billing, and productivity platforms like ClientBuddha.