According to PMI, Every project is initiated with a Project Charter. While the charter is key, it is not enough for project initiation to ensure maximizing value achieved from the project. There are key ingredients that must be defined for the project. Below are a few that come to mind. I am sure many of you have more. If so please share.
1. Identify Elements of Similarity: How is this project similar to previous / other projects previously done by your or other organizations? Lessons learned from these projects can go a long way in avoiding pitfalls and benefiting from experience.
2. Identify Elements of Uniqueness: By definition, projects are unique. Make sure to understand how your project is different. uniqueness can be in its deliverables, methodology, resources, timing, location, or market conditions.
3. Identify Opportunities for Improvement: Start by thinking about how you have been doing projects so far, and how you are planning to improve on this project. I am a strong believer in continuous incremental improvement, and this is a chance to do that by defining things you will do better, products you will enhance, or processes that you will refine. It does not have to be earth shattering, but a bit better than the previous project.
4. Research The Client: If this is the first time you work with this client, go online for client information in the news, the client website, etc.
5. Know Your Priorities: What is most important on this project? It can be customer satisfaction, finishing on time, finishing within budget, entering a new market, etc. If not clear on why this project is important, it becomes difficult to take sound decisions that support the strategic reasoning behind the project.
6. Define a Project Theme: Team members love a clear and simple goal to rally around. This can be clarity in communication, cross functional teamwork, client involvement, managing customer expectations, etc. Find a theme that is key to the project success and communicate to the team.
7. Identify Processes to Focus on: Depending on what the goals and priorities are, some project management processes will require more rigor. So map your goals to the processes that will best support achieving these goals and communicate that to the team. Also, revisit these processes to ensure they are sufficient to support your project.
8. Identify Long Lead Items: Some things on the project cannot wait. If not ordered early, they might delay the project. So, even if the plan is not complete yet, you might want to go ahead and start processing long lead items that you are sure you will need on the project.
9. Review Key Milestone Dates: Some early project milestones can be critical. Not showing up for site handover, supplier orientation, initial team introduction, etc. Make sure you know what these early dates are and that you are ready for them.
10. The Wow Element (credit due to Tom Peters): How will it be memorable? What can you do to “wow” your client and stakeholders? Do not let it be just another project.