Project Life Cycle Phase 1: Initiation

The Project Life Cycle is broken down into 5 phases:

  1. Project Initiation
  2. Project Planning
  3. Project Execution
  4. Project Monitoring & Controlling
  5. Project Closeout

Let’s look at the first phase, Project Initiation, in detail.

Desired Outcome

The first phase in the Project Life Cycle is Project Initiation.

The desired outcome of this phase is the request for and approval to begin a new project with well-defined objectives and project boundaries. Your goal as a project manager is to capture a customer need and any supporting information and transform this into an opportunity to deliver business value to your customer. 

Inputs & Outputs

Each phase of the project life cycle transforms inputs from the previous phase into outputs for the next phase.

In this case, the ‘trigger’ that initiates the process is typically a business need or customer request. Throughout a process of deliberation, evaluation and negotiation; both the customer and the project team create a binding partnership that commits each to the

The following inputs/output diagram showcases a high-level view of the inputs and outputs. Inside the ‘black box’ is where the transformation of inputs into outputs occurs.

Initiation I:O

Project Initation: Systems (Input/Output) Diagram

Key Activities

Now that we understand the required inputs and desired outputs of this phase, it’s time to look at the key activities that must be undertaken.

Initiation Process Hierarchy

Project Initiation: Process Hierarchy Diagram

  1. Develop a Business Case
    • Capture a detailed definition of the customer problem to be solved and the business opportunity. Include a cost/benefit analysis in order to justify how solving this problem will deliver positive returns for the organization.
  2. Describe the Product Scope
    • Describe the characteristics of the product, service, or business result that the customer wants to create. This isn’t a detailed definition of the solution. Instead, this is a description of the solution environment (requirements, assumptions, constraints) and benefits that the solution must achieve.
  3. Perform a Feasibility Study
    • Assess the likelihood of developing a particular solution that satisfies the customer’s expectations and delivers on the benefits outlined in the business case.
  4. Develop a Project Charter
    • Document all of the previous into a formal statement of work to be used by both the Project Team and the Customer. This document should include:
      • Business Case (Project Purpose, Objectives, and Success Criteria)
      • Product Scope (High-level requirements, Assumptions, Constraints)
      • Project Description (High-level schedule, budget, and milestones)
      • Stakeholder List
      • Project Approval Requirements (Terms for project closure)
  5. Authorize the Project
    • Present the Project Charter to the Customer and capture a formal authorization (sign-off) from your project sponsor.

Main Takeaway

There are many tools, templates and techniques that can help you throughout each of these steps. The most important thing to takeaway is that you want to effectively capture the problem your customer is trying to solve, an initial description of the solution environment (requirements, assumptions, and constraints), and create a formal document that your Project Team and your Customer can use to guide the Project Planning process.

In the next post, I’ll cover Phase 2 of the Project Life Cycle, Project Planning.

Cheers till next time!


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