Project managers divide each project into 5 steps, guiding it from conception to completion. These steps are Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling, and Closing.
Today, we will discuss the first step, Initiating.
Initiating the Project
The project begins by choosing its goal: A building is being built; a division is being launched; a marketing campaign is being developed, etc. This goal is the Big Concept, and its completion or failure should be obvious. Use concrete and objective words to define the goal, as well as the time frame in which the project is to be completed. Avoid subjective terms, such as “improved” or “better,” or vague references, such as “in the future.” A solid example of a project goal would be “This project will see the construction of a five-story office building, with 50,000 square feet office space, in the Denver Tech area, and is to be finished by March of next year.” A weak example would be “We will create an ad campaign that will improve sales in the future.”
With the project’s goal in mind, you must address three issues, during the project initiation phase:
- Project scope definition – Here, you must broadly define what is to be included in the project. If you are constructing a new building, is interior design to be included? Will the project be complete only once the C.O. is granted? Finer details will be finalized during the planning stage, but these high-level considerations should be established, now.
- Project manager appointed – Now is the time to appoint the one individual who is responsible for the entire process. With whom will the ultimate buck stop? Or course, the project manager will delegate duties, as appropriate, even management of specific areas of the project, but the project manager is the one with whom the ultimate responsibility of guiding the project to completion rests.
- Establish project milestones – Major projects need to have points along the way that help the project manager know that the project is on the right track. This can be viewed as mini projects within the overarching project. In the example of our building construction, one milestone could be to complete a geological study for the site, another might be to pour the foundation. As each of these milestones is reached, the project manager can assess if the plan is successfully progressing towards its overall goal.
With the initiating stage complete, you are able to move to the next phase, Project Planning.