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Project Initiation: Develop the Project Charter and Identify Stakeholders


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Project initiation is a group of processes to define a new project endeavor and get authorization to start this project. It represents a collection of logically related actions and activities performed to develop the Project Charter and identify relevant stakeholders involved in or impacted by the project.

In the PMBOK Guide, project initiation is regarded as the Initiating Process Group. This Group represents high-level activities to identify reasons behind launching a new project and define the projectís advisability. There are two high-level processes:

  • Develop the Project Charter.
  • Identify Stakeholders.

Each of these processes can be divided into a number of steps, tasks and activities. With help of VIP Task Manager itís possible to plan and manage all the components of the initiating processes. VIP Task Manager allows using the fundamentals of the PMBOK Guide to launch new projects. Letís describe the processes and their possible tasks, steps and activities and also see how to use VIP Task Manager for initiating projects.

Develop Project Charter

With reference to the PMBOK Guide, any project starts with developing the Project Charter. This strategic document proves formal authorization for launching the project and specifies initial requirements that fully satisfy needs and expectations of relevant stakeholders. The process of developing the Project Charter usually consists of the two steps, such as Design a Statement of Work and Make a Business Case.

Design a statement of work . When an external business organization (the project customer) wants to develop, maintain or/and improve some product/service, it needs to create a narrative description of this product/service, with reference to its business need and strategic goals. Such a description is called a statement of work (SOW). This formal document specifies what product/service the customer wants to get delivered upon successful completion of the project. When the SOW is under development, the customer needs to consider such factors as product feasibility, strategic goals, and relationships between the product/service to be created and the business need. The statement of work serves as the first source of input data for creating the Project Charter.

Make a business case . The next step in developing the Project Charter is to make a business case and document the business problem. A business case is a formal document to prove justification for proceeding with initiating a given project. It serves as a foundation for making a decision on whether the project is required and worth investing in. The business case includes a detailed description of the business problem to be addressed by the project. It uses a cost-benefit analysis to identify whether the project is advisable, so a net result between all the positive factors (the benefits) and negative factors (the costs) fits into needs and expectations of the customer. Its purpose is to help the customer to investigate the business problem, examine desirable tangible and intangible benefits, estimate expected project costs, and describe potential impacts of the project.

Identify Stakeholders

With reference to the PMBOK Guide, stakeholders are people and organizations involved in or impacted by a project. Identifying stakeholders means a process of defining and registering all people and organizations having an interest or concern in the project. The process involves the project manager in determining and documenting all relevant information regarding stakeholdersí involvement and interests in the project. Its purpose is to list relevant stakeholders and develop an action plan for managing these stakeholders. Itís convenient to divide the process into two steps, including Create the Stakeholder Register and Develop a Stakeholder Management Strategy.

Create the stakeholder register . The stakeholder register is a formally documented list of relevant stakeholders that are involved in or impacted by the project. Creating the stakeholder register means is an activity for identifying what organizations and people are involved in the project and what the level of their involvement is. Its purpose is to ensure that all the stakeholders are registered and their interests and concerns are taken into account, so the project manager can begin with planning communications and for risks within the project.

Develop a stakeholder management strategy . When all the stakeholders have been identified and listed, the project manager needs to develop an action plan for strategically managing the stakeholders. This person needs to choose an approach that could increase support of the stakeholders and minimize their negative impact on the project and its phases.

Developing a stakeholder management strategy means a series of tasks for managing key stakeholders in accordance with their level of involvement and interests in the project. Usually a stakeholder analysis matrix is used to define the level of influence per each stakeholder and develop a strategic action plan for gaining support and reducing obstacles.

Using VIP Task Manager

The two processes and their steps and activities can be successfully managed with help of VIP Task Manager. This software allows using simple tasks to plan and schedule the initiating processes and allocate responsibilities between the people involved in the same projects. For example, VIP Task Manager features Task Tree view that lets divide the processes into a hierarchy of tasks scheduled by Due Dates and assigned to a number of Resources. Hereís how this hierarchy may look like:

Project Initiation

  • Develop Project Charter
    • Design a statement of work
      • Determine major deliverables of the project work
      • Specify timeframes to get the deliverables
      • List tasks that support the deliverables
      • Assign people who will perform the tasks
      • List financial resources and facilities required to do the project work
      • List names of people paying for the resources
    • Make a business case
      • Review the business problem
      • Describe a general solution of the business problem
      • List alternative solutions to be discussed with the project manager
      • Use cost estimates to define initial requirements for budget
      • Conduct cost-benefit analysis
      • Analyze and estimate Return on Investment
      • Analyze investment risks
      • Define key assumptions
      • Sign a contract with the customer
  • Identify Stakeholders
    • Create the stakeholder register
      • List names, positions and roles of stakeholders
      • List contact information (phone numbers, emails)
      • Assess requirements, expectations and potential impact on project
      • Classify stakeholders by Influence and Interest
  • Develop a stakeholder management strategy
    • Define key stakeholders significantly impact the project
    • Assess level of involvement per stakeholder
    • Divide the stakeholders by interest groups
    • Make stakeholder analysis matrix
    • Create an action plan

By using Task Tree view you can create templates that help you launch new projects in a few mouse clicks. For instance, you can save the shown hierarchy to a template and duplicate this template each time youíre going to run new projects. The entire hierarchy as well as its separate tasks can be shared between multiple users. Please use the screenshot to view the hierarchy, tasks and also task parameters such as Due Date, Priority, % Complete, Assignment, etc.

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