One of the most sought after skills in project management is the ability to initiate a project effectively. Defining the project, securing necessary financial resources, and setting communication in place with stakeholders are all important aspects of initiating a project. The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®) Guide puts forth a strong model for assuring comprehensive success for getting projects off the ground successfully and methodically. According to PMBOK® best practice, the Initiating Process Group involves these main interrelated components:
A project charter assists the project manager in defining the boundaries around a project so that all expectations and objectives are clear from the very beginning. Stakeholders and other important constituents are involved in the communication to boost long-term project success and to clarify initial and long-term goals. Phasing determinations are made so that a timeline and outcome benchmarks can be set in place. While taking place outside the official project boundaries, all funding sources should be set in place and approved before the project charter is delivered.
Identifying and quantifying all stakeholders and other individuals who are impacted by the project is important to be sure that a plan is set in place to mitigate any “push back” that might stall the project. Understanding key players, as well as identifying peripheral situations that might impact project success, is an important expenditure of the project manager’s time and energy during the initial stages of a project. Attentive foresight at this stage, in light of phasing parameters, can help project managers to plan for future actions such as rolling out training sessions, announcing any scheduled downtime, and preemptively addressing possible client concerns before any new phase of the project begins.
By carefully constructing project inputs, such as preparing the project charter and setting procurement needs in place, it is possible for a project manager to set a project up for long-term success. Communicating with necessary constituents to assess environmental factors and organizational processes that could alter project success is an important step to take in order to create the most complete project charter possible. At the same time, understanding the interplay of major and minor stakeholders through the stakeholder registry process is a complementary task necessary to support a positive tone and clear communication as the project unfolds.
Tending to the details of the Initiating Process Group sets the project momentum in progress and creates a comprehensive approach to logically and thoroughly handling the tasks that need to be completed before a project moves into full swing. Across all industries, the methodology of the PMBOK® can be applied and adapted to enhance the effectiveness of project managers at all levels.