Thinking of starting a new project

  • Thinking of starting a project?

    The information below covers some basic areas to consider at the very start of the process, when a ‘need’ or ‘idea’ becomes a ‘project’.

    Don’t forget if you are thinking about a major project, this needs to be planned through the Annual Strategic Planning process.  See: Governance process for initiating new projects

    What is a project?

    Deciding when and when not to call something a ‘project’ can be confusing.  The term is widely used for any undertaking that is temporary and requires a systematic approach.

    For those involved in project management as a profession the word has a precise meaning that signifies a need to adopt a structured approach and specific methodologies.  It is important to recognise when these methodologies apply and will add value.

    The Three-Step Project Test

    There are three simple questions to ask to establish if something is a project:

    1. Are you delivering a defined change such as a new product or service?
    2. Will you be requiring funding or investing resources specifically for this purpose?
    3. Is it a temporary endeavour?

    A 'yes' to all three of the above and you have satisfied the 'Three-Step Test'.

    Congratulations!  It looks like you have a project on the horizon.

    Business-led change

    Projects tend to have the greatest chance of success if they are truely business-led.

    When change is business-led, projects are defined, owned and driven by the area that:

    • has the business need that is driving the change, and
    • has primary responsibility for achieving the benefits that are expected to accrue

    This is usually, but not always, the business area that will be managing the budget.

    The Project Sponsor is ultimately accountable for benefits realisation. With this accountability comes the authority of main decision-maker on the project.

    When you plan a change initiative it is important to have a clear understanding of the governance structure and who is ultimately responsible for the project.  Understanding who has accountability and responsibility will help avoid tensions and delays at key decision points.

    Project Management lifecycle

    There are six stages of the lifecycle as described in the Brookes Project Management Toolkit, with associated Project Gateways.

    Guidance on what to consider and the associated templates are set out in the Toolkit for each stage.