The TenStep Project Management Process (“TenStep process” or “TenStep”) describes how to proactively plan and manage projects. However, this assumes that there is a project to begin with. Every organization has processes in place to identify and authorize a project. This process generally has the following characteristics.
Some way to identify all of the possible projects that could be started.
A funneling process to narrow down all of the possible projects into the smaller number that have the most value and are most aligned to the business goals and strategies.
A means to document the costs and benefits so that the project can be compared to other projects. This document is generally called a Business Case.
Identification of a minimum set of high-level information required to gain final approval of the project.
The process described above is used to gain preliminary approval for a project. However, there may be a time lag between the time when a project is initially approved, and the time the project actually starts. Therefore, when a project is ready to begin, there are a number of items that must be validated to ensure that the project is ready to start.
Initiate for Small Projects (1.0P.P2)
This initial process is not required for small projects.
Initiate for Medium Projects (1.0P.P3)
This initiate process is optional for medium projects. If the project is tending toward the large size, you could execute the initiate process for large projects. Otherwise the process can be skipped.
Initiate for Large Projects (1.0P.P4)
Medium and large projects are big enough to require a formal initiation process before the project starts. This process can be very quick or could take some time to complete depending on how ready the sponsor and the organization are to proceed. The work required at this point includes the following.
Validating that the Business Case is still valid
It is possible that business conditions have changed since the time the project was given preliminary approval. The project value and Business Case should be validated to ensure nothing has changed. Just because the project was given preliminary approval does not mean the project is automatically entitled to execute.
Identifying the formal sponsor
The initial sponsor was probably the person that helped develop the Business Case and was the person that asked for the money for the project. Now that the project is ready to proceed, the sponsor should be validated. It is possible that the management team has changed and that a new sponsor needs to be identified. It is also possible that the original sponsor is at too high a level to perform the role of the “active” sponsor required for the project. In this case, the original sponsor would take the role of Executive Sponsor and delegate the details to a more tactical Project Sponsor.
Assigning a project manager
The project manager is the person to lead the project into the more detailed planning process, and then manage the project the rest of the way. The project manager needs to be assigned at this point. For further information on the role of the project manager, see 1.2P The Role of a Project Manager.
When the project is initiated it is important to start to understand and manage the various stakeholders. You can read more information at 1.1P Identify and Manage Stakeholders
Getting the project through the initiation process does not guarantee that the project will be executed. The approval at this point is simply to get the project into the process of defining the work and building the more detailed schedule and budget. The Project Charter will still need to be approved so that the actual execution of the project can begin.