What is the Project Start, which aspects need to be clarified and what questions may help?
Laying the foundation for a successful project
The project launch marks the beginning of a project. In the narrower sense the project launch includes all activities and measures of the project preparation (also called initialisation), in the broader sense also the conceptual orientation of the project (also called conception). In many organisations, the project mandate defines the formal start of a project; it is formulated at the end of conception. The following aspects must be clarified at the launch of the project – in a broader sense:
- What is the name of the project, what is the scope and what is out of scope?
- What does the client want, why, how and until when? Which stakeholders are there and which goals and motives do they pursue?
- What is the project environment, what is the system context and where are the project boundaries?
- What requirements, technical or organisational challenges, risks and opportunities are there and what interrelationships need to be considered?
- Who is needed for project implementation and to what extent and when? Who is involved in the project with which roles, who manages the project and who bears overall responsibility?
- How long does the project take, what budgets and resources are needed?
- What are the content, time and technical dependencies on other projects or project partners?
- Is the project technically, temporally and financially feasible and strategically and/or operationally meaningful?
- What priority does the project have and what management attention does it receive?
Various events at the beginning of the project
Some publications take a slightly different approach to determining the project launch: they define events and times in the interaction between client and contractor: the invitation to submit a tender by the client, the submission of a bid by the contractor, the commissioning by the client or the holding of a kick-of meeting are, for example, such events and times.
This approach is based on the consideration that the path to a project is itself a project. From such a perspective the determination of a suitable cost center or the formulation of a project application can also be regarded as the time of the project start.
Six questions on the start of the project
A simple procedure for a successful project start is to answer six questions:
- Where does the organisation stand and where does it want to go?
- What does the organisation want to achieve?
- Why is the project important?
- Who benefits from the project and who is involved?
- When does the project launch and end?
- How will the project be implemented, how will the goals be realised and how much money will the project cost?
In project management practice, too little attention is paid to the launch of a project. If there is uncertainty within the project organisation about the goals and benefits of a project, the goals and benefits are difficult to achieve. Even if the implementation of a kick-off, the definition of a work breakdown structure or the initial planning of a Gantt chart are important in the course of the project start-up, goals and benefits are probably more important. Also the interpersonal interaction of all participants, the process of team building and the possible handling of conflicts or impediments are important – but it makes little sense to assign all this to the project launch.