Project Management

Module-1: Project Management Foundation

Module-2: Project Initiation

How to start a project

The start-up of a project is similar to the start-up of a new organization called the initiation phase of the project. The project initiation phase is the first phase within the project management life cycle, as it involves starting up a new project. In this phase, the idea for the project is explored and elaborated. The goal of this phase is to examine the feasibility of the project. Within the initiation phase, the business problem is identified, a solution is defined, a project is formed, and in addition, decisions are made concerning who is to carry out the project, which stakeholders will be involved and whether the project has an adequate base of support among those who are involved. Questions to be answered in the initiation phase include the following:

Why this project?

Is the project feasible?

Who are possible the stakeholders involved in this project?

What is the expected outcome and value for the business?

What is the scope within this project (or what is outside the scope of the project)?

  1. Stakeholder Alignment: The project management team must develop alignment among the major stakeholders for those who have a share or interest on the project during the early phases of definition phases of the project. The management of power and influencing project stakeholders is crucial for a project’s success.
  2. Kickoff Meetings: The project manager will conduct one or more kickoff meetings or alignment sessions to bring the various parties of the project together and begin the project team building required to operate efficiently during the project.
  3. Scope of Work: During project start-up, the project management team refines the scope of work (SOW) and develops a preliminary schedule, conceptual budget, high-level scope, high-level risks, business need, project manager information, etc.
  4. Project Plan: The project team builds a plan for executing the project based on the project profile. The plan for developing and tracking the detailed schedule, the procurement plan, and the plan for building the budget and estimating and tracking costs are developed during the start-up. The plans for information technology, communication, and tracking client satisfaction are all developed during the start-up phase of the project.
  5. Work Processes: Flowcharts, diagrams, and responsibility matrices are tools to capture the work processes associated with executing the project plan. The first draft of the project procedures manual captures the historic and intuitional knowledge that team members bring to the project. The development and review of these procedures and work processes contribute to the development of the organizational structure of the project.
  6. Project Approval: This is typically an exciting time on a project where all things are possible. The project management team is working many hours developing the initial plan, staffing the project, and building relationships with the client.
  7. Task Assignment: The project manager creates an environment that encourages team members to fully engage in the project and encourages innovative approaches to developing the project plan. The project manager sets the tone of the project and sets expectations for each of the project team members. The project start-up phase on complex projects can be chaotic, and until plans are developed, the project manager becomes the source of information and direction.

Project Sponsor

The project sponsor is that person or group who owns the project. Every project has one. They are the reason for the project. While they don’t manage the day-to-day operations of a project, they are above the project manager in terms of the project hierarchy.

Most likely, the project sponsor has been involved with the project from the very beginning. They were the one who helped conceive it and advocated for it.

Project Sponsor Responsibilities

The project sponsor is responsible for many aspects of the project, from initiating and ensuring the success to approving and establishing parts of the project. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the project sponsor role can be broken into three parts: vision, governance and value or benefits realization. They break those down in the following way:

  • Makes sure the business case is valid and in step with the business proposition
  • Aligns project with business strategy, goals and objectives
  • Stays informed of project events to keep project viable
  • Defines the criteria for project success and how it fits with the overall business
  • Ensures project is properly launched and initiated
  • Maintains organizational priorities throughout the project
  • Offers support for project organization
  • Defines project roles and reporting structure
  • Acts as an escalation point for issues when something is beyond the project manager’s control
  • Gets financial resources
  • Decision-maker for progress and phases of the project
Values & Benefits
  • Makes sure that risks and changes are managed
  • Helps to ensure control and review processes
  • Oversees the delivery of project value
  • Evaluates status and progress
  • Approves deliverables
  • Helps with decision-making
  • Responsible for project quality throughout project phases

Project Charter:

According to PMI®’s PMBOK Guide (5th edition), a project charter is a “document issued by the project initiator or sponsor that formally authorizes the existence of a project and provides the project manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to project activities”.

In simple terms, a project charter is a brief document that clearly points out the project’s scope, participants, benefits, and objectives.

creating project charter

Plan. If you’re going to implement, then you need an implementation plan. This is a way to develop an atmosphere of confidence for your customers and stakeholders by listing the phases, activities and timeframes of the project’s life cycle. Gantt charts are the traditional planning tool for projects. 

Milestones. Milestones mark major phases in the project and collect smaller tasks into bigger chunks of work. The project should only have a few of them, that’s why they’re milestones, but they are an important way to acknowledge the completion of a key deliverable.

Dependencies. List all key dependencies and what their importance is to the project. These are tasks or activities that are linked to one another, as they will impact the project during its life cycle.

Resource Plan. What resources are involved in the project? Break down this list into labour, equipment and materials. This is how you’ll know what you need before you need it, and you’ll be able to estimate your budget more accurately. As the project progresses, and changes are introduced, you’ll need to adapt your resource plan. features workload and resource management tools that let you quickly see everyone’s workload, so you can reassign tasks as necessary. This keeps everyone from being over or underworked.

Team Dynamics:

Team dynamics are the unconscious, psychological forces that influence the direction of a team’s behaviour and performance.  They are like undercurrents in the sea, which can carry boats in a different direction to the one they intend to sail.

Team dynamics are created by the nature of the team’s work, the personalities within the team, their working relationships with other people, and the environment in which the team works.

Team dynamics can be good - for example, when they improve overall team performance and/or get the best out of individual team members.  They can also be bad - for example, when they cause unproductive conflict, demotivation, and prevent the team from achieving its goals.

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Module-3: Project Planning and Scheduling

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