Project Management: Initiation phase (part 1)

In the Project Management Request I’ve concentrated on the request pre-phase of the project and on its main document A3. If A3 has been approved by project sponsor it’s time to start project initiation phase.

Initiation phase precedes Project Detailed phase and prepare Project manager and project team for real work. In this post I will try to list all activities that better to perform and document during this phase. The output of this phase is Project Kick Off Meeting where described below information usually put into slides and presented to the team.

High Level Objectives

In this section I summarize in several points what the project is about and what results are needed to be achieved. Example from one of my projects:

  • Develop system for metallurgical waste management in Cast House workshop.
  • Create in the ERP system charge reception block.
  • Automate charge reception and outgo with barcode scanners and production scales.


This section I use to detail project team and what regions and systems project would affect. E.g.:

  • Organization structure
    • Project Sponsor
    • Project Lead from business
    • IT project manager
    • Project working team on business side
  • Technical structure:
    • The project would affect CH and FRP business units only on <PLANT NAME>.
    • The new functionality would be developed in <SYSTEM1> and <SYSTEM2>.
    • Some functionality from <SYSTEM3> will be transfers to other systems and data will be sent to <SYSTEM3> through internal interfaces.

Boundaries / Constraints

This section is rather important and must be worked out in details as soon as possible. Based on this section I set most of deadlines in Project Plan, also it’s a foundation for risk management. And if you miss anything here, with a high degree of probability the project would be unsuccessful. Also project team, project sponsor and everybody who deals with project must have the same understanding of boundaries and constraints of the project, so this section must discussed and approved if needed.

What points can be listed here:

  • The first phase of the project must be implemented into production environment till 31 July 2013 and the whole project must be closed till the end of 2013.
  • All new functionality of the project must be created in the existing systems (SYSTEM1 and SYSTEM2).
  • The project will be performed by company internal resources, no independent contractors are allowed.
  • The agreed scope of the project cannot be reduced.

Project Sizing

For this section I fill special survey to check whether this activity is a project or just a work request. For projects it’s preferable that you follow all steps of project methodology. While for work requests you can miss some steps as the activity is not so complex to perform full management.

The survey contains simple calculations and if you reach required amount of points – the activity is set to be a project. The sections of the survey are:

Project Cost; resource costs including consulting.  <= $10K> $10K5
Project Duration< 7 months7 months or more4
Project team<= 10>104
Project manager dedication (per cent time)<= 50%> 50%3
Well-documented, operational or maintenance processes usedOnly existing, well-documented processes are to be usedSeveral new process are needed to be developed or modified4
Team experience (in technologies / subject area needed for the project)Trained and ExperiencedLacking some training / experience4
Clarity of scopeClearly definedUndefined, vague scope4
End User Buy-in (buy in of those who will use the result of the project)End user acceptance a givenEnd user acceptance needs to be sold2
Organizational ImpactImpact 1-2 business unitsImpacts more that 2 business units.2
Deadline and costSchedule and costs is flexible (+/- 1 month, +/- 20% on cost)Deadline is fixed and cannot be changed, schedule has no room for flexibility2
TechnologyProven, existing technology with in-house expertiseUnproven, new technology that we don’t have or proven technology but not in house or not proven but in house expertise5
Change to current work environment, tools and/or processMinimal changeNew technology and/or new process3
Number of systems to be newly integrated (may apply to applications mostly)0-2> 22
Number of external project dependenciesNo major dependencies or inter-related projects; or only low risk dependencies to other projectMajor high-risk dependencies or inter-related projects
Some dependencies or inter-related projects that are not considered low risk
Level of complexity (number of technologies, existing applications ala GAR, integrations, etc.)SimpleMedium – High level of complexity2
Number of Suppliers0-2> 23
Confidence in SupplierHigh
standard, agreed Alcoa / supplier process that is reliable
there are no suppliers involved in the work
new process with Supplier, or no agreement yet made

This is all for today, it the next post I will finish the high-level description of Project Initiation phase.

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