Great Project Management Starts In The Initiation Phase

Mike Girdler

Are you paying attention in the project managing initiation phase? In business it’s always about the bottom line. How is what we are doing going …

Are you paying attention in the project managing initiation phase?

In business it’s always about the bottom line. How is what we are doing going to affect it? How can we protect it? How can we make it better? One way to optimize your organization’s bottom line is through the careful attention and effective use of project management fundamentals during the project initiating phase.Woman-Napping

Identify stakeholders
Take a moment and reflect on a project that didn’t go so well and I can almost guarantee you that key elements of the initiating process were not addressed properly. For instance, have you ever had someone come up to you mid-way through a project and say, “How come I wasn’t involved in this?” In the initiating phase we identify our stakeholders and develop our stakeholder management strategy. Miss any of our stakeholders and we run the risk of not collecting pertinent project requirements and our project not meeting the needs of the organization.

Develop a charter

Staying on the not so good project theme, what about this one? Ever heard this while executing a project: “Hey, why are we even undertaking this project anyway?” Pay careful attention during the initiating phase, particularly in the development of the charter, be armed with the information needed to provide the right answer. Specifically, in the development of the charter we address the business case for undertaking the project and how the project supports our organization’s strategic, financial, or other goals.

Identify risks

Another overheard statement on a less than successful project, “How did you not see this coming, this will delay the project”. While risks are usually dealt with in the planning phase where they’re addressed in both a qualitative and quantitative manner, miss a high level risk during the initiating phase and we can be looking at rework, waste, and an unsuccessful result.

Determine authority

And finally, an oldie but goodie, “Who made this change and approved it?” During the initiating phase, we assign a project manager and outline what authority they have to make changes to budgets, project elements, and resources, etc. If this step is not laid out and communicated, it can lead to confusion and unhappy stakeholders.

So, pay extra attention during the initiating phase to prevent wasted resources, rework, frustration, and give yourself and your project the greatest chance for success, and positively impacting your organization’s bottom line.

Are you paying attention during the project management initiation phase? Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!

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Michael Girdler is a vice-president, CornerStone Dynamics Inc. His blogs focus on all things project management. Throughout Mike's career, he has invested deeply into projects involving sales, marketing, training and development, continuing education, and communications environments.

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