How to Create a Project Initiation Checklist

How to Create a Project Initiation Checklist

When we talk about projects, the first thing that comes to mind is – Ohh, ok so what is it about?

What will you build or deliver?

And followed up by how much will it cost and by when do you think you can complete the project?

Well, they reveal far from what goes on in making a project successful. This is where a project initiation checklist is introduced.

It is understood that running a project includes hundreds of activities small or big with varying degrees of complexity. And the difficult part is not all are closely related and hence the project manager is required to deploy a whole range of skills to get them done.

Take a quick look at the list of activities that must be taken care of to deliver a project successfully.

  • Business case
  • Requirements gathering
  • Scope review and sign-off
  • Budget approvals
  • Milestone delivery schedules
  • Stakeholder and sponsor expectation management
  • Resource requirements
  • Identifying skills
  • Infra, equipment and training
  • Hiring
  • Communication
  • Tasks breakdown & planning
  • Risk management
  • Project progress tracking
  • Tool requirements
  • Financial planning
  • Vendor Management

The above items are still at a very high level. Each of these can be further broken down into several hundred activities. And tracking each one to closure is vital.

Now, the only saving grace is the fact that not all projects may include exactly all the above activities.

But still it’s an uphill task!

Imagine a single person i.e. the project manager responsible for getting all of these items planned, scheduled, monitored and closed.

He is bound to miss out, lose track and completely fail at quite a few of these critical activities.

Hence, starting off your project with a well-defined project initiation checklist has proven real handy.

It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.

What is a project initiation checklist?

In the simplest of terms, the project initiation checklist is “the project bible” and nothing less.

The more robust and leak proof your project initiation checklist the less are the issues that will arise and even less are the chances of getting derailed ever!

In a more project management terms, it will include:

  • Project scope, goal – end to end requirements
  • Resources – skills, cost, duration
  • Stakeholders – RACI
  • Project team
  • Communication plan – type, medium, frequency
  • Project Budget
  • Tools and frameworks – everything from project methodology to communication, collaboration and project management tools, licenses etc.
  • Risks – identification, mitigation plan, funding
  • Deliverables, schedule, acceptance or success criteria
  • Reports, metrics, KPIs

It is a live and working document. All answers to your operational woes are listed here.

Keeping this checklist active and updated at all times is a must.

The project initiation document (PID) as it is known has the details of all activities you will undertake during the course of the project, how you will perform them, when, with what costs, time and quality!

The best thing would be to minutely list out all activities that will be performed right from project initiation to project closure.

Consider this as your task breakdown of the overall project and not just the actual execution part.

The project initiation document is a mix of the strategic as well as tactical activities required to get the project off the ground and deliver it with all success criteria met.

Benefits of a Project Initiation Checklist

It is evident by now that the checklist is the final blue-print of your project. Savvy project managers would break the activities down by the respective phases as defined in the project management lifecycle.

This allows them to strategize well to know whom to engage when and how.

It is one of the key critical success factors for your project. Hence, defining this checklist will provide you the following benefits:

  • Ensure you are clear on all activities
  • Clarity of the business objective, goals
  • Transparent management of stakeholder expectations
  • Ability to organize and execute project activities better
  • Prevent resource conflicts
  • Timely allocation of budget, resources, equipment
  • Improved control over the project
  • Ability to define the right processes and flows
  • Proactive risk identification and mitigation
  • Lay a solid foundation for the execution, monitoring and closure phases

Conclusion

Enough said! The key lies in identifying the key activities that must be performed first. And starting with a PID is the best thing you can do for the project.

It acts as the guide or say an instruction manual for every problem you may encounter with your project.

You will not only stay on top of all activities but will be in absolute control of the project. You clearly know what to do, when, how and with whom. There is no guess work.

Man with a plan is more likely to succeed than without one.

Next time, you start off with a project, do devote enough time and efforts to get the PID in place and follow it till you have delivered the project successfully.

You can make the PID within Orangescrum itself. Sign up free now to get your first project initiation checklist ready!

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