Starting Up a Project
The purpose of this process is to answer the question, “Do we have a worthwhile and viable project?” The project mandate is usually the only document that exists when this process starts, and this is not enough information for the Project Board to make the decision to start the Initiation Stage. Therefore, the purpose of this process is to provide the Project Board with the necessary information to judge if the project is worthwhile. They use the Project Brief, which will contain information on the Business Case. Another important purpose of the Starting Up a Project process is to prevent poor projects from starting up. This process should be brief; perhaps that’s where we get the name Project Brief. In fact, the aim is to do the minimum necessary just to see if it is worthwhile doing the Initiation stage.
The objectives of the Starting Up a Project process are to prepare and make sure that the following is done during and by the end of this process:
- There is a Business Case (business reason), and this should be documented in the outline Business Case. The Business Case document is not completed until the Initiation Stage.
- Look at the project approach, which examines the best way to go about doing this project and obtaining advice from other projects in the form of lessons learned, specialists or even outside knowledge.
- Choose the people who will do the work to initialize the project, and other roles in the project team.
- Create the Project Brief, which provides information on the scope of the project and most of the information collected during this process.
- Create a detailed Stage Plan to plan the work to be done in the Initiation Stage.
This is a high-level overview of the Activities:
- The Trigger to start the project is the project mandate, which is provided by a high-level person within the company or a Programme (Corp / Programme Environment).
- During this process, the project mandate will be expanded into the Project Brief. Keep in mind that the Project Brief will be used by the Project Board to decide whether to Initiate the project or not. Note: if the project is part of a program, then the program will provide most of the Project Brief. In fact, most of the work in this process will already be done by the program.
- Assembling the Project Brief and refining the outline Business Case require close cooperation between the Project Manager, Project Board and some of the Stakeholders.
- The work on the Project Brief and the outline Business Case is an iterative activity, i.e., there is a constant cycle of discussions and improvements to these documents.
- PRINCE2 points out that the more time spent on clearly defining the requirements in this process, the more time that will be saved during the project, as some of the following situations can be avoided:
- Meetings and detailed discussions trying to define certain products;
- Re-planning due to creating the wrong sub-products; and
- Avoiding costly exceptions during the Stages.
In many companies, projects are started too quickly, as upper management needs to see that some action is taken, so the result is the creation of a poorly defined Project Product.
The following Activities are to be done in the Starting Up a Project process:
- Appoint the Executive and the Project Manager.
- Capture Previous Lessons.
- Design and appoint the project management team.
- Prepare the outline Business Case and create the Project Product Description (PPD). The PPD is a description of the main product that will be produced
- Select the project approach and assemble the Project Brief.
- Planning the Initiation stage.
- Look at the above diagram and notice at what level the activities are done. As you can see, most activities are done by the Project Manager. The outline Business Case is created by the Executive with some assistance from the Project Manager and the Project Product Description is created by the Project Manager.
Input / Output
- The project mandate is the trigger to start the project and comes from outside the project.
- The project mandate can have such data as the reasons for the project, some business case information and perhaps other data that is required by the Project Brief.
- The PM should seek lessons from other projects (e.g., see if Lessons Reports are available from other projects or invite all stakeholders to offer lessons).
Outputs (main outputs only):
- Project Product Description: This is normally a 1-3 page description of the main product that will be produced by the project. The structure of this document is covered in both the Quality and Plans themes.
- Outline Business Case: This is the responsibility of the Executive. Its objective is to provide some business justification for the project.
- Project Management Structure (PMT): This will provide information on the structure of the PMT (The Project Board, Assurance, Change Authority, Project Manager).
- Project Approach: This part of the document will define the project approach that should be taken by the project. The Project Manager will ask such questions as:
- Create product from scratch, update existing product, or off-the-shelf solutions?
- Should we use internal or external people in the project?
- What can we learn from other projects?
- Are there other information sources, both internal and external?
- Project Brief: All the above information is assembled into the Project Brief, plus other information, such as the scope, roles & responsibilities, six performance targets.
- Initiation Stage Plan: The Project Manager creates this first plan (Stage Plan), which is a day-to-day plan for the Initiation Stage.
- Request to Initiate the Project: The final output of the SU process is to send a request to the Project Board to Initiate the Project, which is to allow the first stage of the project to start. The Project Manager gives both the Project Brief and Initiation Stage Plan to the Project Board.
Roles and Responsibilities
- Corp / Programme Management
- Provides project mandate–(trigger and comes from outside the project).
- Provides project level tolerance information.
- Appoints the Executive and may appoint the Project Manager.
- Appoints the Project Manager (if not done already).
- Approves the PMT.
- Creates the outline Business Case.
- Senior User
- Provides information for Project Product Description.
- Project Manager
- Team Manager
- May be asked to help with Project Approach and PPD.