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Project initiation

ISP home  > Project Management methods and tools  > Project Phases

Initiate projects - lay the foundations for success

Before committing time and resources to a project, evaluate its feasibility from a financial, technical and operation perspective. The feasibility study estimates project duration, effort and cost. In order to complete a rough cost benefit analysis, the feasibility study must estimate the development costs and benefits from the project. Projects compete for scarce resources within an organization. Most organizations have a formal process for initiating and assigning resources to new projects. 

Lay the foundations for success during the initiation phase. Decisions taken in the Feasibility Study have the biggest impact on the success of the project. The feasibility study determines the project scope based on a consideration of the client objectives, risks, costs and benefits. Resolve project scope issues in the Feasibility Study. Reduce scope of the project to reduce cost, duration, risk and chance of failure.

Summarize the feasibility study in a business case as input to the project approval process. The business case allows management to compare projects and decide which ones to approve.

Project Initiation activities.

1. Conceive Project

  • to achieve strategic objectives.
  • To improve business processes.
  • To counter competitive pressures.
  • Identify business activities that will be impacted.
  • Identify features of products to be produced.

2. Kickoff feasibility study:

  • Appoint project team for feasibility study.
  • Deliver better results by considering more alternatives in more depth.
  • Meet sponsor and champion.
3. Define client objectives 

4. Analyze risks that threaten project success.

  1. Brainstorm Risks
  2. Analyze cost and probability of risks occurring.
  3. Develop risk mitigation plans.
5. Define Deliverables
  1. Brainstorm project deliverables to meet client objectives.
  2. Specify deliverables.
  3. Prepare statement of work.
  4. .

6. Develop strategy for project

  1. Develop creative alternatives.
  2. Develop mitigation plans to avoid or overcome risks.
  3. Select superior strategies.

7. Define project scope.

  1. Determine deliverable, functions, features, locations, technology and organizational units in current release.
  2. Defer non-critical items until future releases.
  3. Identify items excluded from project.
8. Estimate effort and cost.
  1. Identify deliverables and estimating factors in rows
  2. Quantify each deliverable size.
  3. Determine unit effort per deliverable.
  4. Determine unit cost for each resource.
  5. Determine material costs for each deliverable.

9. Prepare master schedule and budget.

  1. Identify major releases and phases.
  2. Identify resources for each phase.
  3. Estimate work for each phase.
  4. Estimate materials and contracts for each phase.

10. Cost Benefit Analysis

  1. Identify business activities improved with new system.
  2. Determine current costs for current system .
  3. Estimate costs for new systems.
  4. Calculate revenue increases.
  5. Calculate benefits for each activity.

11. Present business case for project.

  1. Present business case.
  2. Analyze projects in project portfolio.
  3. Approve projects.

12. Startup next project phase.

  1. Prepare detailed plan for next phase. 
  2. Recruit team for next phase.
  3. .

If you are interested in more detail, these topics are covered in UBC Project Management with Microsoft Project course #3. Defining Project Scope - Start projects right and lay the foundations for success. The course workbook contains one hundred information packed pages. We can also deliver this course in house using one of your own projects as a custom case study.


Copyright April 16, 2005 Brian Mullen, I.S.P. information systems planning corp. Last updated: March 30, 2007

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