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Project Initiation Phase

written by: Josie Borlongan • edited by: Marlene Gundlach • updated: 2/24/2013

A project manager assigned to a specific project needs to engage the correct people and assign them their tasks and deliverables. Let's take a look at each of the necessary steps of a project and how you can initiate or monitor each one.

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    Project Definition

    Every project has its own purpose or ultimate goal—the complete delivery of the project. No matter how different each project may be from each other, each one needs to carry out that purpose in the end. In order to get to the outcome, a project manager needs to handle the project from the beginning to the end. When assigned a task, a project manager has a duty to understand the final goal of the project. This is important because the project manager will need to know who are the people and groups he or she would need to involve in that particular project, and when to involve each one. These participants would need to understand the concept of the project and what roles they will play in order to complete it. Therefore, it is necessary to create a thorough and complete definition of a project that would include the following:

    1) Project Title and Plan Number

    2) Project Purpose

    3) Project Phases

    4) Roles and Responsibilities

    5) Tasks and Deliverables

    6) Timelines and Due Dates

    7) Conclusion

    Each of these sections would include their detailed scopes and timelines in order to keep everyone on track at all times.

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    Open Project Plan Number or ID

    Immediately after approval of the project, the project manager assigned will initiate or open a project plan number. By annotating the project plan number or ID next to the project title, it becomes a reference in the data repository of all projects. It is important to have a project plan number for tracking purposes. This will be the basis for groups to put in or bill their time to. Every communication, including meeting invitations, should include the project ID number on the subject header.

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    Initial Introduction: Project Purpose

    As a project manager delves into what the project needs, it is necessary to reach out to the individuals or groups that will be helping with the project. The project manager makes an initial phone call or sends an email to give a heads-up of the upcoming project. It is necessary to provide an initial introduction to what the project will be and to let the people know that they will receive an initial meeting invitation for a kick-off meeting to do some introductions. Conducting this initial gathering of people will give them time to get themselves ready for the project. Normally reaching out to these groups would mean reaching out to their department leads or managers; therefore, it gives the managers time to allocate resources for the project.

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    Kick-off Meeting to Determine the Project's Phases

    A week or two after the initial phone or email introduction, the project manager schedules a project kick-off meeting. Here, each project participant will get to meet initially and will learn the terms of their engagement on the project. In some cases, no matter how much the project manager gets ready and tries to invite the right people to the kick-off meeting, there may still be other necessary groups that will arise upon initial discussions with the groups during the kick-off meeting. This is a great opportunity to verify each participant's involvement and idenitfy who else to engage so that they may accomplish their assigned tasks.

    During this meeting, the project manager will explain the scope of the project and then assign a target date for completion. The project manager will then request that each participant or group provide their realistic timelines to complete their tasks. As the project manager gathers the information, he then marks them against each project phase until the final date when the project is ready for a rollout. This meeting is an opportunity not only to meet all participants in person, but also to brainstorm on how to proceed with the project.

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    Initiating Project Sizing

    The project manager's next step during the project initiation phase is to initiate project sizing to determine how much it will cost to complete the project. Project sizing includes the price of equipment, for example, new servers, circuits, routers and the like. It may also include the price of any necessary software. There is also the price that each project member will charge for his or her tasks, as well as the project manager's billable hours. It is necessary to include any office supplies used, shipping and handling costs, and other incidentals.

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    Conclusion of Project Initiation

    The project initiation phase concludes when a project manager can gather up all the initial information to kick-off a project. It is important to be as organized as possible in the start to ensure a smooth execution of the project.

    Read Top Ten Tips for Project Planning for more useful project planning advice.