Chapter 2: Initiating the Project

When beginning a project, the first thing that needs to be accomplished is to define the project’s goals. This is an opportunity to decide what will be done and what the expected deliverable will be. You’ll learn more about the deliverable as the product, service or result of a process.

The Initiating Process

Leon: “Within the initiating process for our elderly grocery delivery service, we have three goals:

  • To define the project: We are building a service that elderly people can easily use on a weekly basis and make them feel less stressed about their day.
  • Identify stakeholders: We have identified the school board, the elderly home, the local store and our team members as the stakeholders.
  • To authorize the project: We need a sign-off from the school board and would like to have feedback from the elderly home to authorize if we are taking the right steps. And of course, our team members need to be on board as well. “

Define the project: Basic Questions

Leon: “When beginning a project, the first thing that needs to be accomplished is to define the project’s goals. This is an opportunity to decide what will be done and what the expected deliverable will be. A deliverable is the product, service or result of a process.

The following six foundational questions help teams best define their project:

  1. Why? Why is the project being initiated? Why is that our reason to start the project?
  2. Who? Who is this work being done for? Identify the people participating in or affected by the project’s outcome both positively and negatively.
  3. What? What are we going to deliver? What work do we need to complete? What resources and funds do we need to produce these deliverables?
  4. When? When will we produce these deliverables? When will the project sponsor approve and accept the final project deliverable?
  5. Where? Where will the deliverables be used? Where will this be accomplished? If a school is planning an annual fundraising picnic, the answer might be “a local park.”
  6. How? How are we going to achieve the project’s goal and objectives? How will success be measured?”

Activity 5: Defining the project

What answer to the question is missing? Read the text above to see what questions were asked to the group. Check if ‘Why?‘, ‘Who?‘, ‘What?‘, ‘When?‘, ‘Where?‘ or ‘How?‘ is missing.


    • We are initiating this project because we want to help elderly people from our town with their groceries.

    • We are starting this service for elderly people specifically, because we noticed in our families that often they can use the help. If we don’t succeed within the project, there will be parents and elderly people that want to use our service that are disappointed.
    • We are going to deliver a service via phone. The Elderly people will receive notebooks in which they can pen down their grocery list. We have crowdfunded a 1000 euros as a budget and will do a fundraising event if we go over budget.
    • All the deliverables will lead up to the launch event, we are raising the budget for extra necessities via a fundraising benefit event.
    • We are going to achieve the project’s goal by meeting every week from the 1st week of January, divide roles and help each other out when someone’s not able to or afraid to do the activity that is linked to them.
    • Our success will be measured by the feedback before and after the launch of our service. We will send out a survey to talk about their experiences so we can keep on improving our service after the launch.”

      Defining stakeholders

      Emma: “As was mentioned in the introduction, stakeholders are the people or organisations involved or that have an interest, positively or negatively, in the project or the project’s outcome.

      In the initiating process, project teams will often create a stakeholder register, which includes the individuals involved and/or impacted by the project, their role in the project (customer, sponsor, team member or public) and their contact information.”

      Activity 6: Defining Stakeholders

      Drag the right stakeholders to the correct roles for the launch of the elderly grocery delivery service based on the text that is provided below.

      Gabby: “For our project, we have already fixed a couple of things. We have a meeting with Barbara in order to understand more about what is allowed and not allowed from the school’s perspective to build our service. We will then also talk to the people in the elderly home when they come together in their monthly meeting with Keira’s group to see if everyone is on board. Emma will make sure that this will happen on time and keep the overview. Sal will support her in this. And, finally, we have already received some discounts on groceries from Reuben. He has a shop in town that is a familiar spot within the elderly home.

      Creating a Project Charter

      Leon: “The Why, Who, What, When, Where, and How questions are used to create a project charter. A project charter is a document “authorising” the start of a project and is used to further clarify and refine the project.

      We have entered the project manager and listed the team members, these are the people who are involved in the project.

      In the project description we have written our goals. Our goals need to be specific, measurable and observable. These goals can guide our project from start to finish. The clearer we are in defining the goals, the easier it will be to stay on track.

      For the project reason/justification we have entered the reason for doing this project. This answers the ‘why’ question.

      A milestone is an estimated time when a major deliverable will be completed. 

      The acceptance criteria documents how our final product will be evaluated with the users and what the quality of the final product will look like. It defines how we will know when we are done and if we have successfully completed our goals.

      Assumptions are factors about the project that we consider true without getting proof. Identifying assumptions helps a team clarify assumptions that not all team members share. For example; if our product is needed at all!

      A constraint is any factor that would prohibit our project goal to be accomplished. This may include constraints in budget, time, people’s availability or something else.

      Risk includes any unexpected situations that we might come across. We need to think about potential risks at the beginning of our project so that we can manage them appropriately and create a plan of response. While we can’t predict all situations, the more prepared we are, the more successful our project will likely be. An example of a risk might be that it might rain for an event that is planned outside. A response might be to plan an alternative location in case of rain.”

      Example Project Charter

      lenMilestone: Grocerido

      Project Manager: Emma

      Team members: Sal, Gabby and Leon

      Stakeholders: Keira Beltran from the Elderly Home and Barbara Brussels from the School Board

      Sponsor: Reuben Aguilar from the Local Store

      Project Description:
      Describe the project. What is the goal of your project?
      Deliver groceries for the people in our local elderly home in a way that is comforting for them.

      Project Reason/Justification: 
      Why are you doing this project?
      The basic purpose of the project is to develop a simple service that is easy to use for the older generation without the need of digital tools that they may feel less comfortable using.

      Major Milestone:
      What are the big points of progress? What are the deliverables? When are they due? 
      School Board Approval (April): Creating a project proposal to let the school board know what we are developing and we receive a ‘go or no-go’.
      User Testing (May): Receive feedback from the elderly home on our service. We are interviewing them to understand what assumptions we might have and what needs we can answer.
      Launch event (June 18th): Launching our service and offering groceries to our first five customers and celebrating the launch with a celebration event.

      Acceptance Criteria:
      How will the final product be evaluated?

      • The project will be completed on time, within the budget, and meets the requirements of the School Board
      • All assumptions are tested with the users
      • A clear contract is made with the local store to receive a discount on the groceries
      • We will send out a survey after the launch event to ask for feedback

      What do you believe to be true about this project?

      • The people in the elderly home need help with their groceries
      • Elderly people are not always comfortable using digital tools
      • Elderly people sometimes find it difficult doing grocery shopping by themselves
      • We can find enough participants to use our service
      • We can find enough interest for our launch event

      What factors will limit how the project gets done?

      • We are a new team and need to get to know each other
      • We have constraints from the School Board in what is allowed in the project
      • We have a limited budget
      • We have 6 months until the launch event

      What things could cause issues during the project?

      • The collaboration with our sponsor – the local store – could fall apart
      • We can have lengthy discussions in our team
      • We are too busy with other school work
      • We have no interest from the elderly home
      • We can’t get enough interest for people to come to our launch event

      Go to the next Chapter

      Chapter 3 – Planning the Project

      Key terminology

      Click on the words to expand the window and understand what they mean:

      Acceptance criteria:
      A set of conditions that is required to be met before deliverables are accepted.
      A distinct, scheduled portion of work performed during the course of a project.
      A factor in the planning process that is considered to be true, real, or certain, without proof or demonstration.
      Closing process:
      The process(es) performed to formally complete or close a project, phase, or contract.
      Communication management:

      A component of the project, program, or portfolio management plan that describes how, when, and by whom information about the project will be administered and disseminated.

      A limiting factor that affects the execution of a project, program, portfolio, or process.
      Any unique and verifiable product, result, or capability to perform a service that is required to be produced to complete a process, phase, or project.
      Executing process:
      This is the process of working through the project plan. The executing stage involves performing the activities outlined during the planning process.
      Initiating process:
      Those processes performed to define a new project or a new phase of an existing project by obtaining authorization to start the project or phase.
      Lessons learned:
      The knowledge gained during a project which shows how project events were addressed or should be addressed in the future for the purpose of improving future performance.
      A significant point or event in a project, program, or portfolio.
      Milestone planning:
      A type of schedule that presents milestones with planned dates.
      Monitoring and controlling process:
      Occurs throughout the entire project. Monitoring and controlling involves ensuring that all the activities in the project plan are completed on time and within budget, as well as addressing any changes necessary to successfully achieve the project goals.
      Planning process:
      The project manager and team members define the activities needed to complete the final product, service or result. Determining what staff and resources are needed, establish the timeline and available budget for the project.
      A temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.
      Project Charter:
      A document issued by the project initiator or sponsor that formally authorizes the existence of a project and provides the manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to project activities.
      Project Management
      The application of knowledge, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.
      Project Manager
      The person assigned by the performing organization to lead the team that is responsible for achieving the project objectives.
      Project Schedule

      An output of a schedule model that presents linked activities with planned dates, durations, milestones, and resources.

      Project Team

      A set of individuals who support the project manager in performing the work of the project to achieve its objectives.

      The work performed to deliver a product, service, or result with the specified features and functions.
      Scope creep:
      The uncontrolled expansion to product or project scope without adjustments to time, cost, and resources.
      A person or group who provides resources and support for the project, program, or portfolio and is responsible for enabling success.
      An individual, group, or organization who may affect, be affected by, or perceive itself to be affected by a decision, activity, or outcome of a project.
      Stakeholder register
      A project document including the identification, assessment, and classifications of project stakeholders.

      A team member or any physical item needed to complete the project.


      An uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more of the project objectives.

      Work Breakdown Structure (WBS):

      A hierarchical decomposition of the total scope of work to be carried out by the project team to accomplish the project objectives and create the required deliverables.