Chapter 3. Project Initiation
3.0 Learning Objectives and Overview
- Explain the process of developing a project charter to authorize the project, and describe the roles of the project sponsor and project manager.
- Describe the project environment, and outline the internal and external factors that may affect a project.
- Explain the formal and informal organizational structure, and compare three main organizational structure types based on the project manager’s authority level.
- Describe the responsibilities of a Project Management Office (PMO).
All projects are undertaken for a reason. Some projects can be initiated for business reasons (i.e., strategic objectives) such as increasing profits, decreasing customer wait time, and improving employee working conditions. Other projects exist for social reasons such as a municipal recycling system or installing clean energy solutions. Often, the pressure to produce results encourages people to identify possible solutions without fully understanding the needs and purposes of the project. This approach can create a lot of immediate activity, but it also creates the likelihood that the change initiative will fail to deliver the proposed organizational value.
As detailed in Chapter 2, one of the best ways to gain approval for a project is to clearly communicate the project’s objectives and describe how the project provides a solution for an organizational need or how it capitalizes on a business opportunity. A needs analysis that accompanies a business case is often conducted to better understand the underlying organizational needs and how meeting these needs would help the organization achieve strategic objectives (e.g., increase profits, improve customer experience, develop new products). Once alternative solutions are identified, each solution is assessed to determine if it supports the organization’s vision and strategies. Issues of justification (“should we do the project?”) and feasibility (“can we do the project?”) are addressed for each solution. Finally, some projects are selected to initiate. It is important to note that project justification is a key part of the project initiation phase: a project must have a reason to exist and, if no such justification can be determined, then it’s best to stop the project before too much time, money, and resources are invested in it. If issues of justification are not adequately addressed, the project will lack the required organizational support and, therefore, will ultimately be unsuccessful.