Starting up a Project    

  • Basics
  • Process overview
  • Activities
  • Documents
  • Relation to principles
  • Relation to themes

You must know and understand:

  • The purpose of Starting up a Project
  • The activities
  • The documents relevant to this process
The purpose of the Starting up a Project process is to ensure that the prerequisites for Initiating a Project are in place by answering the question: do we have a viable and worthwhile project?

Goals of SU

In SU we want to:

  • Determine there is a solid business justification for the undertaking;
  • Make sure we have sufficient information to determine the project's scope;
  • Choose the approach to the project's execution;
  • Appoint the most important decision makers in the project;
  • Determine the effort needed for initiating the project and draw up a plan for this work;
  • Assign resources to the work to be performed in initiating.

In short:

take care that the initiation of the project is based on sound assumptions regarding scope, timeframe, constraints and acceptance criteria.

The first question to be asked in any project is: "Do we have a viable project ?". The process Starting up a Project is intended both to nip undertakings in the bud when they are not well thought through as well as to give a proper start to viable projects.

We should take care to carry out this process quickly: there is no project budget yet and activities have to be funded out of the always too tight operational budget, or will have to be taken as a presales investment by the Supplier.

Process overview Starting up a Project

SU is triggered by a project mandate: the more or less formal

De trigger voor SU is een Project Mandaat: The term project mandate applies to whatever information is used to trigger the project, be it a feasibility study or the receipt of a 'request for proposal' in a supplier environment. The project mandate should provide the terms of reference for the project and should contain sufficient information to identify at least the prospective Executive of the Project Board. The mandate is refined to develop the Project Brief.

The last actvitiy of SU triggers the process Directing a Project.

Appoint the Executive and the Project Manager
Nothing can be achieved in a project without a decision maker and a planner. That is why first of all these two roles will have to be filled. In general the Executive will be appointed from the appropriate management level from the customer. He can then choose a project manager. When the situation calls for it a role description can be drawn up for both, laying out tasks and responsibilities.

PRINCE2 advises the Project Manager to open a Daily Log. Here he can note all information that does not need to be treated in a more formal way, as an issue.

Capture previous lessons
"Once bitten, twice shy" is a true enough proverb, that should be heeded in projects. There are probably no organisations that have not in one form or another had their fair share of disasters. PRINCE2 therefore advises to search for previous experiences in projects and apply the lessons from these to the current project. To make sure that the current project also contributes to the body of knowledge of the organisation as a whole the Project Manager should open a Lessons Log that will act as a repository for all lessons that are going to be learned in the current project.
Design and appoint the project management team

Using the theme Organization we can now design the project's organisation and seek the appropriate individuals to fill the roles. Both suitability and availability should be taken into account when approaching people for roles. We will have to deal with the following questions:

  • Will the Project Board members do their own assurance or will they delegate these acitivities?
  • Will we need Team Managers?
  • Is there a need for Project Support or will the Project Manager carry out these tasks himself?

When the design of the project organisation is ready the members can be appointed to their role. However, care should be taken that everyone knows what he is committing to!

Prepare the outline Business Case
To keep the project focused on the Business Case is a major responsibility of the Executive. Allthough in SU there is formally not yet a project, now is the moment for him to see to it that the Business Case for the project is written down. What we need now is an outline for the Business Case, containing the most important chapters such as timeframes and costs. However not all details might be known at the present, and the information that is available can be subject to change as we progress in the planning during intitiation. Therefore PRINCE2 advises to start with an outline Bussiness Case in SU and refine this in the process Initiating a Project.
Select the project approach and assemble the project brief
keuzen "All roads lead to Rome" is the saying. This is also true in projects: we will always have to make choices on the actual way the project's products will be developed. For instance: In company development – Outsourcing, Bespoke – Off the shelf, Develop a new solution – Modify an existing. This choice can have a considerable impact on costs, timeframes and risks associated with the work. It also is very relevant for the composition of the Project Board, and the role of Senior Supplier in particular. The options chosen for the development of the products is recorded (with reasons!) in the project approach.
Plan the initiation stage
When the initiative for the proposed project is not immediately turned down, the first stage, the Initiation Stage, will be used for planning and preparation. Inititation can be simple and straightforward consuming not much time or resources. The Initiation Stage Plan can be short and concise.

The following documents are relevant in Starting up a Project:

Continued business justification
When there is nog yet a Business Case then iIn SU an outline will be prepared.
Learn from experience
  • In the activity Capture previous lessons the Project Manager seeks lessons from previous projects to be applied+
  • The Lessons Log is opened.
Defined roles and responsibilities
As far as possible the project management team will be designed and appropriate individuals will be appointed to their roles.
Manage by stages
At the end of SU there must be a Stage Plan for the initiation stage.
Focus on products
The Project Product Description will be drafted.
Tailor to suit the project environment
In smaller project, where for instance the Project Brief is clear and approved, and where initiation does not entail large efforts, SU and IP can be combined.
Business Case
When there is nog yet a Business Case then iIn SU an outline will be prepared.
  • An Executive and a Project Manager will be appointed;.
  • As far as possible the project management team will be designed and appropriate individuals will be appointed to their roles.
The customer's quality expectation and the acceptance criteria are defined in the Project Product Description.
A Stage Plan is drafted for the initiation stage.
All known major risks are noted in the Business Case.
  • The project's scope is determined (Project Brief);
  • The Project Brief, Business Case and Project Product Description are documents that will be change controlled.

In SU progress control is nor relevant, as there is no plan and associated budget.