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Project Initiation

Once the PM and the Project Board have ascertained that there is a valid reason behind the project mandate, all of the activities needed to create the support infrastructure for the project have been carried out and authorisation to initiate is granted, the PM will need to carry out the project initiation tasks. This process is aimed at defining the project in more details than has been developed so far in order to lay a solid base from which the delivery of the project can start. The main objective of this process is for the PM to allow for a better, clearer and most of all common understanding of what the project is going to deliver. To do so the PM will create a set of documents aimed at defining various aspects of the project and to establish plans for dealing with different events/factors, which may have an impact on the overall project performance. In practice the PM with the help and agreement of the Project Board will need to establish:

  • What the project approach will be towards Risk Management
  • How Changes and Issues will be managed
  • How the Project’s products will be managed during the project lifecycle
  • How the quality of the products will be achieved and controlled
  • How and when product(s) will be delivered
  • Who will be involved in the project at the various levels
  • How communication will be controlled and performed during the project
  • How progress will be monitored
  • What is the overall scope of the project?
  • What are the forecasted costs and benefits linked to this project?

All these aspects need to be clearly defined and then agreed with the Project Board to form the basis of project control upon which all future authorisations will be granted. As a result of this process the Project Board will have sufficient information at the start of a project to make a decision on whether to grant authorisation for the project or not. Moreover, this updated set of documentation will be used at the end of each stage as the basis to request authorisation to continue onto the next stage. In addition to this, all the information gathered and documented during the Project Initiation process will form the basis of a general and widespread understanding for all the project stakeholders of what the project is to deliver and the method with which we plan to do so.

The sub-processes then will cover the activities to create the appropriate documentation and receive approval from the Project Board:

  • Draw the Communication Plan
  • Create a Risk and Issue Management Plan
  • Create the Quality Plan
  • Create the Project Plan
  • Finalise the Business Case and assemble the Project Initiation Document.

Establish the Communication Plan

A good communications procedure is a very important factor leading towards project success. Communication within a project is essential to allow for proper control across the various levels of Organisation. When establishing a Communication plan the PM must take into consideration all the communication needs of the different interested parties. For this reason, when creating the plan, we must take into consideration not only communication within the project management team, but also external communication, paying particular attention to the information needs of our project stakeholders and our corporate environment. In projects that are part of a programme, communication becomes even more important as the programme must define how the projects communicate with each other and with the Programme Management Team. Furthermore the plan should also stress the importance of two-way communication, between the different parties involved to ensure the correct passage of information amongst the project stakeholders (both internal and external). As such the plan itself can be used as a tool by the different entities participating in the project to ensure the correct application of the communication procedures and any relevant standards.

In Creating the Communication Plan the PM should consider the following recommended actions:

  • Review and assess any relevant corporate standards related to the communication to be applied to the project.
  • Assess previous projects for hints and lessons regarding communication procedures
  • Identify the interested parties susceptible of communication activities
  • Establish the interested parties information needs for the project
  • Plan a communication procedure to be applied throughout the project
  •  Present the Communication plan to the Project Board for Approval.

Create the Risk and Issue Management Plan

As mentioned previously, projects are characterised by a higher element of uncertainty than the normal operational environment. At the same time they are impacted by events which need to be controlled and dealt with in order to maintain the project in line with the objectives to be achieved. For this reason every project needs (before delivery can commence) a clearly defined plan to counteract any forecasted or unexpected event that might have an impact on the products or objectives to be met. It is the PM’s responsibility to establish and implement an efficient Risk and Issue Management plan throughout the project, which will allow him/her to deal with any eventuality. The plan itself will be reviewed and approved by the Project Board to make sure it will serve its purpose to the best of its capabilities. This plan is important, and therefore detailed, as it will form the basis on which the day-to-day control of a stage (susceptible to risks and issues) is carried out. The plan will outline the procedure, techniques and responsibilities involved in dealing with such events as Request for Change, Off-Specifications, and Threats to any of our project objectives, or possible opportunities for improvement. The document will also outline the two procedures (Risk Management and Issue Management Procedure), which are described in the respective Risk Management and Issue & Change Management section of this Manual.

In PM4SD we distinguish two type of risks related to tourism projects: external risks, and management risks.

External risks can be divided into: natural, technological, social, economical and political. To manage these types of risks the World Travel Organisation has created the Risk and Crisis Management Programme with the objective to assist members to assess and mitigate risks, through development, planning, and implementation of crisis management systems that will reduce the impact of, and assist in the recovery from crises.

The recent eruption of the Eyjafjöll volcano, or the earthquake in Japan, or the political and social situation in the Middle East, are example of Natural, Political and Social risks occurred, which have strongly impacted the tourism sector.

Management risks are related to daily project management activities: for example a product was not delivered in time, the quality is below expectations, the person appointed as team leader has not the right skills.

The recommended activities to the PM when creating a Risk and Issue Management plan are:

  •  Review and assess any relevant institutional and corporate standards and guidelines related to Risk Management and Issue Management, to be applied to the project
  • Are there any lessons from previous projects that can be applied?
  • Are there any lessons from previous projects that can be applied?
  • Define the Risk Management and the Issue Management Procedures
  • Create any relevant documentation (i.e. reports and logs)
  • Seek Project Board approval for the Plan

Create the Quality Plan

A project management approach based on the delivery of the project outputs (or products) cannot be initiated unless a clear understanding of what quality is required together with how that quality will be achieved. For this reason the PM will (with the support of the Project Board and if possible the Organisation’s own Quality Assurance function) create a clearly defined Plan for describing the procedures, Tools, Techniques and individual responsibilities involved in ensuring the project delivers products that are fit for purpose and which meet the customers’ expectations. This is required in order to obtain formal acceptance for the project’s products. The plan also describes any measure to be taken during the project to ensure that each individual product meets its requirements. This includes planning quality reviews where people with appropriate profiles, authority level and experience will assess the products against clearly defined criteria in order to reach a common agreement on whether a product is acceptable, or else that there is still work to be done. Since it is quality of the products we are mainly concerned with, the PM is strongly advised to seek advice from any existing Corporate or Programme Quality Assurance personnel as he/she needs to make sure any relevant standards (both internal and/or external i.e. ISO or any specific standard) is applied correctly.

The main activities involved in creating such a Plan are:

  • Review and assess any relevant corporate standards related to Quality Management
  • Review the Product Description for the Final Product to assess the customer’s expectations and the acceptance criteria
  • Are there any lessons from previous projects that can be applied?
  • Review the Risk and Issue logs for any potential impact on quality
  • Create any relevant documentation (Quality Log, Quality Records etc.)
  • Ask advice from Project Assurance on compliance with any standards
  • Seek Project Board Approval for the Plan

Produce the Project Plan

This activity will lead to the creation of the first forecast plan covering the entire lifecycle of the project. This plan will be a high level summary of the key deliverables and main objectives the project will endeavour to meet, and will provide a forecast of the overall time cost and resources commitment required for delivering the project. This information will be mainly used by the Project Board to monitor the project progress on a stage-by-stage rather than day-by-day basis. It will also be used extensively when any authorisation to go ahead with the project is requested as its update with actual and new forecast information will form the platform for comparison to assess project progress. This will also help assessment of the continued project viability based on the Business Case. The creation of such a high level plan should be done in continuous consultation with the key interested parties. This includes consultation with the User representative to establish clear milestones and objectives to be achieved during the plan, and with the Supplier representative to establish a clear method of approach to reach those milestones and objectives. The PM is strongly advised to seek the help of the Project Board, where possible, or to seek advice from Project Assurance concerning the feasibility of the Plan.

The main activities involved in creating a Project Plan are:

  • Review the Product Description for the Final Product and produce the Project Breakdown Structure (PBS) for the Project Plan
  • Are there any lessons from previous projects that can be applied?
  • Assess the plan against risks and issues and modify accordingly
  • Establish the Plan format and presentation and decide what planning tools and techniques will be used.
  • Establish the forecasting and estimating techniques to be used when preparing plans.
  • Seek approval for the Project Plan from the Project Board.

Finalise the Business Case assemble the Project Initiation Document

The Business Case is the most important document/aspect of a project, as it provides the Business Justification upon which approval to continue with the project is constantly sought. In the Project Direction process, the Project Executive is responsible for creating an Outline Business Case which contains a high level summary of the project strategic objectives.

Before authorisation to continue onto the delivery phase of the project, the PM must (with the help of the Project Team) produce a complete version of the entire Business Case for the Project. Once the Business Case is finalised, the PID (Project Initiation Document) can be assembled by collecting all the relevant documentation and collating it in a single document or dossier. A typical PID will contain:

  •  The original agreement or mandate
  • The Project Management Team Structure
  • The relevant role descriptions
  • The Product Description for the Project Solution
  • Any Quality Criteria and Expectation relative to the project solution
  • The Project Delivery Strategy
  • The Communication Plan
  • The Procedures for Risk, Issue & Change Management
  • The Configuration Plan
  • The Project Plan
  • The Business Case
  • The Benefit Review Plan
  • The Quality Plan
  • Any relevant policies and standards to be applied

The PID, incorporating the Business Case, will serve as the basis for control and decision making from now on. In order to produce a finalised version of the Business Case the PM is responsible for carrying out the following activities:

  • Review the Outline Business Case to form the basis for the development of the first complete version the Project’s Business Case
  • Are there any lessons from previous projects that can be applied?
  • Create the detailed Business Case by incorporating all the additional information/details gathered so far.
  • Once the Business Case has been finalised the PM can create the Benefit Realisation and Review plan which will be used as the basis for the measurements against which the benefits will be assessed. This document will be particularly important as it will serve as a plan for the post project activities related to benefit realisation over the long term duration of the project results.
  • Assess the Business Case against known or new risks and issues and modify accordingly
  • Assemble the Project Initiation Document
  • Seek Project Board approval for the PID