The Savvy Project Manager Series: Don't Start Projects Without Doing These 5 Things | All About Project Initiation Plus Project Management Templates

The Savvy Project Manager Series: Don’t Start Projects Without Doing These 5 Things

May 31, 2020| slideuplift
The Savvy Project Manager Series: Don't Start Projects Without Doing These 5 Things

Project Manager: Essential Tools for Project Initiation

For starters, what is a “Project” anyway? The accepted definition is that it is a time-bound endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.

It has a defined beginning and end in time, and therefore defined scope and resources.

What it is not: It is not a “work” in a routine operation, but a specific set of tasks designed to accomplish specific goals. So the project team often includes members who may not normally work together – sometimes from different units and across different geographies.

Development of software, the building of a bridge, the relief efforts post a natural calamity, market entry into new geography— all are projects. All these situations and more should be planned and executed professionally for on-time, on-budget, expected results

Project Management is what it takes to do the work: knowledge, platforms, activities, people, and all that project requires

Project management processes fall into four groups:

Every successful project will require these steps. But project management brings a unique focus shaped by the goals, resources, and schedule of each project. The value of that focus is proved by the rapid, worldwide growth of project management:

  • as a recognized and strategic organizational competence
  • as a subject for training and education
  • as a career path

In this blog of Project Management Series, we will focus on the first aspect of Project Management: Project Initiation

(Business Case, Assumptions, Team, PMO, Scoping, Charter)

Project initiation is the first step in the project lifecycle. What is it? This is where, the business case for the project is established and the set up of the project is completed. The Project Initiation phase is where essential work is done for everyone to believe in the credibility of the impact of the project and the team.

The specific focus of Project Initiation stage is to define:

Business Case: A business case is the starting point in Project Initiation. It is used to define the grounds for starting a project. It shows how the use of capital and other resources will support a business need and what the payoffs will be. Good business cases envision scenarios and anticipate risks. Technicals are not the focus at this stage

What good looks like? Solid business cases are easy to understand, clear, logical, and relevant. These are grounded in reality and have assumptions and outcomes that are measurable. Further, good business cases delineate accountability and commitment to the work and costs. A few examples of Business Case Templates are:

View Business Case Templates

In short, a business case is intended to convince key decision-makers of the merits of a particular project. It is a key part of your project initiation process as the business case defines “Why” for the project.

Establish a Project Management Office: A project management office is a group that defines and maintains standards for project and program management within the organization. This unit ensures that all the projects are run in a repeatable and standardized way. It focuses on scalability in the execution of projects. A few important tasks include ensuring the best project management practices and governance and accountability for the project teams. A few templates related to PMO and governance model are:

View PMO Templates

Good PMOs need the right balance of skills and experience and they need to update themselves constantly. As it is their task to build effective, capable teams through continuous technical training, coaching and leadership development

Publish a well-articulated Project Charter: A project charter outlines the context, vision, goals of the project. In addition, it includes the scope, key assumptions, big risks, the structure, and notable milestones. Some people also like to add responsibilities for the project team and key stakeholders in the charter

The charter marks the point when the key highlights of the initiation stage are ready to be shared with a broader stakeholder group. Learn in detail how to build effective Project Charters. Here are a few Project Charter templates

View Project Charter Templates

In essence, the more thorough a project charter is, the better reference it will become for the future. You can include the information which you find most beneficial in to for the future reference

Clearly scope the project: The project scope is the part that involves defining a list of specific project goals, outcomes, activities, timelines, and ultimately costs. “Scope” is what is needed to deliver a project for it to be called successful. A few clean and succinct way of showing Project Scope are:

View Project Scope Templates

Project Scope is needed in managing the expectations of clients and stakeholders. With a distinct scope, it helps everyone to stay on the same page throughout the life cycle of the project

Identify the Team: Any project requires a team to do the activities and take accountabilities. It is essential to define roles for each member to collaborate well. Reporting lines, leadership, structures, should be laid out as clearly as possible. A few examples of Project Team Templates are:

View Project Team Templates

How do you make a great team? Listing skills and experience needed for each position, defining performance criteria, assigning proper responsibilities are great ways to set up a team for success. In short, Identifying a right Project Team is critical for Project success. The Project team should have clear, defined goals and should be motivated to achieve Project Objectives.

Skill Requirements

To build an effective project team, it is important to identify the skills required in the project. Identifying team members with the right skills will ensure project success. Here are a few templates to help you articulate the project skill requirements.

View Project Skills Templates

Role Definition

Once you identify the team with the required skills, it is important to define the roles and responsibilities of the team members that will make your team and project success. Clarify expectations you have of each other so the whole project team can shine

View Roles and Responsibilities Templates


Use RASCI Responsibility Matrix, to assign and display responsibilities of individuals in the project team. RASCI is an acronym from the initial letters of words:

  • R – Responsible – who is responsible for carrying out the entrusted task?
  • A – Accountable (also Approver) – who is responsible for the whole task and who is responsible for what has been done?
  • S – Support – who provides support during the implementation of the project task?
  • C – Consulted – who can provide valuable advice or consultation for the task?
  • I – Informed – who should be informed about the task progress or the decisions in the task?

View RASCI Templates

Performance Criteria

It is important to set up performance criteria for the team members so that the team’s expectations in terms of roles and responsibilities are aligned. Here a few templates to articulate them to the team

View Performance Criteria Templates

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