Part 2: Project Initiation Processes

Due to the overlapping nature of activities during a project, various materials present different sequences of actions undertaken in the initiation phase. Despite the disparity, there is a common agreement on the primary actions in the initial stage. Accordingly, this course presents comprehensive step-by-step guidance into the processes pertinent to the project initiation stage. These include determining the problem or opportunity, identifying stakeholders, and defining the project scope.

Identifying the actual problem to solve.

The problem identification stage typically involves an informal analysis of a potential problem or opportunity for the project. It is important to note that the project initiation stage starts from a problem or an opportunity for which a solution or application is unknown, rather than a reference to predefined problems or solutions (Depaire, 2019). The project initiator should define the problem with utmost clarity. Otherwise, failing the clarify the problem or opportunity is a common source of disappointment, particularly because it is routinely discovered after the project is completed (Depaire, 2019). One way to ensure clarity in the problem statement is by using the gap analysis. The gap analysis model consists of four steps. These include identifying the organization’s key needs of the present situation, determining the business’s desired situation, highlighting the existing gaps based on the comparison, and modifying and implementing organizational plans to fill the gaps (Kim & Ji, 2018). Hence, the gap-analysis guides objective formulation.

The identified problem forms the primary objective of the project. The initiator should try to anticipate the consumers’ behavior due to the project (Depaire, 2019). From the speculation, one can write a description of what the deliverables must do to meet the customer demands. The deliverables are regarded as requirements for the project. Depaire observes the requirements are the first direct translation of the problems into deliverables (Depaire, 2019). Further, he recommends that defining the requirements requires the integration of the customers’ perspective. Creativity is needed to define other relevant factors such as risks and estimated cost.

Once the business owner finds a reasonable incentive to initiate the project, he documents all the preliminary information in a document called the Charter, guaranteeing the project stakeholders the authority to conduct the project. The project charter is defined as a document issued by the project initiator or sponsor that formally authorizes a project’s existence and provides the project manager with authority to apply organizational resources to project activities (Brown, 2005). Charters do not have a rigid structure. A normative list of the charter contents includes the requirements, business needs, summary schedule, assumption, and constraints (Brown, 2005). u00a0The subsequent step involves identifying the stakeholders.

Identifying Stakeholdersu00a0

Stakeholders encompass everyone who the project will affect, in the course of its execution or upon completion. These include project sponsors, managers, and customers. The stakeholders work together with the business owner to define the project’s success (HBR Editors, 2016). Further, the participants should be given a chance to express their expectations to be taken into consideration. In the unfortunate event that the participants change midstream, the project manager should be prepared to welcome new players and include all the others in redirecting the project (HBR Editors, 2016). A more comprehensive way of identifying stakeholders is through stakeholder analysis.

Stakeholder analysis involves the range of techniques and or tools to identify the project players’ major interests and expectations, including the customers. Smith presents the following four basic approaches in analyzing stakeholders. The first step is to identify the project players (Smith, 2000). Secondly, the facilitator should determine the stakeholderu2019s interest, impact level, and relative priority. The latter is key since some participants may have ulterior motives relative to the project objectives. The facilitator may determine some stakeholdersu2019 interests by asking questions. Once the teamu2019s interests and expectations have been identified, the facilitator may want to determine the impact level of each stakeholder. Smith suggests the use of a simple annotation of positive (+), negative (-), or unknown (?) as well as high (H), low (L), medium (M), or unknown (?) to analyze the impact playersu2019 impact levels (Smith, 2000). Based on the analysis, a prioritization scheme based on the analysis is prepared as follows.


Figure 1

Stakeholder interest and impact classification.

The third step in stakeholder analysis is assessing the stakeholders for importance and influence. According to Smith, influence indicates the stakeholder’s relative power over and within the project, while importance is the degree to which the project cannot be considered successful if the needs, expectations, and interests are not addressed (Smith, 2000). The last process is outlining assumptions and risks. In the team context, risks can manifest due to conflicting needs and expectations among the team members (Smith, 2000). Therefore, the project facilitator plays a critical role in ensuring that critical values are implicit in the project course. The following diagram may help the project manager in stakeholder analysis.


Figure 2

Example of stakeholder analysis context diagram.

Determining the Scope, Resources, and Major Tasks.u00a0

The scope management stage often overlaps with the planning phase. We have already seen in the initial step that the business owner identifies the problem or opportunity and defines a preliminary scope and requirements. Furthermore, the owner determines the feasibility of implementing the project before deciding to initiate it. However, in this phase, the firm may have subcontracted a project management team to execute the project. The scope management at this level is, therefore, more explicit on the project goals, deliverables, risks, budget, and schedule. The primary task underlying this process is to define the relevant factors in detail and subdivide the tasks accordingly. Scope management is discussed in detail in the planning phase.

Emmanuel Addo

Emmanuel Addo is the founder of the Young Global Leaders Network, an international non-governmental organization registered in six (6) countries namely, Ghana, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, and South Sudan and has a membership strength of over 15,000 young black professionals, students, graduates, and aspiring leaders.

The organization also operates in 25 other African countries. Emmanuel also doubles as the chief convener and founder of the Young African Leaders Summit, one of the largest continental youth summits in Africa.  

Currently works at Kingston University as a Business Engagement Team Member in their Partnerships and Engagement Department. 

He characterizes energy, integrity, result-oriented, and ground-breaking service in each detail of strategic management, change management, stakeholder management, and leadership acquaintances.
Emmanuel owns a core background in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Ghana.

Leveraging his experience as a youth activist and a dynamic young man, Emmanuel founded the Young Global Leaders Network, a youth organization that comprises young diplomats, young politicians, and aspiring politicians, business/entrepreneurial business leaders with the aim of championing a mutual agenda for the African youth and promoting youth participation in governance as well as promoting entrepreneurial culture.
Emmanuel nurtures an environment of teamwork and has expertise in data collection and analysis as well as both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Emmanuel worked as an Associate Lecturer at the London College of Advanced Management where he delivered a wide range of business management courses that involved principles of marketing, leadership, operation management, and research methods. Emmanuel has always maintained high teaching and learning standards to ensure that his students’ stand out in academic achievements and successful progression. As a stout believer and passionate key player in volunteering; Emmanuel creates quality time to giving back gladly to his community what he has learned and to educate individuals with free consultancy on career development. He is a leader anyone would love to look up to and with great integrity, commitment, and passion to make the world a better place.
Emmanuel worked as Qualifications Manager at the Open University in the UK.

Emmanuel is also the founder of Kickstart Innovation Hub Ltd, the entrepreneurial hub of Young Global Leaders Network.