Project management goal: Initiate a project


Before you build a project in Project 2010, you need to decide what exactly the project is, its scope, and what you hope to achieve.

Wait! There’s one more thing: You need to decide whether you need a project at all.

This overview shows you the big picture of planning your project. Follow the links in each step for detailed information about each process.

This article is one of many project management goals on the Project Road Map.

What do you want to do?

Decide if you need a project

Define your project objectives

Identify your project assumptions

Identify your project constraints

Prepare a scope management plan

Decide if you need a project

Before you start a lengthy series of activities, ask yourself if what you are doing is a project. If you’re lucky, you have a few big tasks that don’t really require the overhead of full project management.

Read more about deciding if you need a project . . .

A project typically:

  • Is temporary and unique.   Designing a car manufacturing plant is a project because it is a one-time activity. The manufacturing of the car coming out of the plant, although it involves numerous linked steps, is an ongoing series of activities.

  • Has a beginning and an end.   Designing a car manufacturing plant has an end date, but the manufacturing of cars is ongoing.

  • Consumes resources.   Resources, either people or materials, are finite and need to be managed carefully, especially if they are shared across projects.

  • Has a budget.   Project managers are typically concerned with the overall profitability of a project and whether the activities of the project fall within the costs allocated toward the project.

Some examples of projects include:

  • Developing a new product.

  • Restructuring an organization.

  • Constructing a house.

  • Designing a type of vehicle with low emissions.

Define your project objectives

Clear objectives are crucial because your project's success will be determined by how closely you meet them.

Read more about defining objectives . . .

A clear project objective is both specific and measurable. Avoid vague objectives such as "Create state-of-the-art deliverables." A project's objectives may include:

  • A list of deliverables.

  • Specific due dates for both the project and milestones.

  • Specific quality criteria that the deliverables must meet.

  • Cost limits that the project must not exceed.

For objectives to be effective, all project stakeholders should officially agree to them. Often, the project manager creates an objectives document that becomes a permanent part of the project.

Link to come

Attach Microsoft Office or other files to your project plan for easy access.

Upload documents

If your organization is using Project Server, you can upload supporting documents to the project’s site using Project Web App.

Getting started with Project Server

Learn how to use Project Server 2010 to upload documents, track projects through initiation and approval, and assess them against the goals of the organization.

Identify your project assumptions

To begin planning, you need to make educated guesses about key elements of your project, and then use those estimates to create your schedule.

Read more about identifying assumptions . . .

Consider these project areas when you identify your underlying assumptions:

  • Handoffs from other projects.If your project depends on the work of others, do they understand your dependency and agree to the handoff dates?

  • Resource availability (including people, materials, and equipment).If you do not manage some of the people who are working on your project, who does? And has that person approved your use of these resources?

  • Task durations.Are your task estimates based on solid information or guesses?

  • Project costs.How important is cost? Who must approve budget changes?

  • Available time.If you are working toward a known deadline, can you realistically complete all tasks with an acceptable level of quality?

  • Deliverables.Does your list of project dependencies and deliverables match what the customers and other stakeholders expect? If you must compromise on a deliverable, have your stakeholders agreed on what aspects of the deliverable would be compromised first?

Microsoft Office programs can help you understand a project's complexities.

Create a swimlane flowchart

Create a cross-functional “swimlanes” flowchart of project assumptions with Visio 2010.

Create a blog


Create a blog for team members to brainstorm project ideas with SharePoint 2010.

Get started with Office Online in Office 365

Share project information online with the Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote online programs.

Identify your project constraints

Constraints on a project are factors that are likely to limit the project manager's options.

Typically, the three major constraints are:

  • Schedule, such as a fixed end date or a deadline date for a major milestone.

  • Resources, such as a predefined budget.

  • Scope, such as a requirement that three models of the product be developed.

A change in one of these constraints usually affects the other two and can affect overall quality.

Read more about identifying constraints…

For example, decreasing the project duration (schedule) may increase the number of workers you will need (resources) and reduce the number of features that can be included in the product (scope).

The project manager then determines whether this trade-off is acceptable. This concept is called "the triple constraints of project management" or "the project triangle."

During the planning process, list your project's constraints to ensure that all project stakeholders are aware of them and have the opportunity to comment on the list.

It is also worthwhile for stakeholders to agree on how to respond to unexpected constraints that arise during the project.

Prepare a scope management plan

The project's scope is the combination of all project objectives and tasks and the work that is required to accomplish them.

The scope management plan is a document that describes how the project scope will be managed and how any changes in the scope will be integrated into the project.

Read more about scope management plans . . .

A scope management plan may include:

  • An assessment of how likely the scope is to change, how often, and by how much.

  • A description of how any scope changes will be identified and classified.

    For example, in a construction project, you may decide that the work crew leader can approve the work if the client requests a design change that will cost under $1,000, but if the change will cost more than that, the project manager and client must reevaluate the scope of the project in terms of cost, resources, and other factors.

  • A plan for what to do when a scope change is identified (for example, notify the sponsor and issue a contract change order).

A well-prepared scope management plan can serve as the basis for your project's contingency plan.

Although you can create a scope management plan with Project, project managers typically create them with other programs such as Microsoft Word or OneNote.

Return to the Project Road Map

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