A checklist of activities and deliverables that should be completed by the end of the Initiation Phase.
What this is
A checklist of activities and deliverables that should be completed by the end of the Initiation Phase of a project. This checklist can be used during an end-of-phase management review or simply used by the Project Manager and team. This is one of a series of end-of-phase checklists, one for each of our representative project phases.
Why it's useful
The theme of an end-of-phase management review is to ensure that sufficient work has been completed in the current project phase to allow the project to enter the next phase without an unacceptable increase in project risk. Thus the checklist is not only for what work was done in last phase but also for what foundation has been set for the work that is coming next. Projects that don't lay a good foundation in risk reduction activities such as planning, requirements management, design and testing can become overextended in later project phases, increasing the schedule time, cost, and risk of the project, and decreasing the fitness for use of the project's result. A checklist that tracks the status of key activities and deliverables in each project phase can help the team and stakeholders decide if a sufficient foundation has been laid in the current project phase to allow the project to continue into the next phase.
The Initiation Phase (or "Investigation and Planning Phase") is where a fully-represented cross-functional team fleshes out the project definition via detailed requirements, makes major design or project approach decisions, completes an economic analysis of the costs and benefits of the project (updated business case), and creates detailed plans for time and resources. Reviews at the end of the Initiation Phase approve the project to go into full development to execute the rest of the project - and that approval needs to be based on a sound understanding of detailed goals and agreements on costs and time and resource commitments.
How to use it
If you are at the beginning of your project, download this checklist and the other end-of-phase checklists and use them to make the general plan for the entire project. If you are in mid-project, examine the checklists of previous phases to ensure that your project is not already overextended. Try to avoid examining these end-of-phase checklists late in the project phase or on the eve of the end-of-phase project review -- they lose much of their value as a planning tool if they are not used early.
Edit these checklists to remove items that don't apply to your particular project, and to include additional items that are key gating items in your organization's development process. You can also adapt these checklists to your organization's project lifecycle phases (more on that below). Try to do this editing EARLY in your planning, when you're not under pressure to complete a particular phase. Then hold the checklist steady both during and at the end of the phase -- resist making changes and removing items in order to have a better review.
Don't be put off by the number of items on these checklists. For example, note that the term "plan" does not necessarily mean a formal document; it means your team has done some critical thinking in the subject area and has captured the results of that thinking into a plan that specifies activities and deliverables. The plan should be in some written form so that it can be systematically applied to the project over time without complete reliance on human memory. In some organizations, you can substitute "planning" for plan and show the results implicitly in other items like schedules. Or you may have a few paragraphs each for some of these "plans", captured in one general planning document. In other organizations, you'll want to show a more formal written plan or other auditable evidence that you've done the early critical thinking about the subject area.
Start actively using each checklist EARLY in the project phase to ensure completeness of the activities and deliverables that you are trying to accomplish during the phase.
As part of the end-of-phase review, the checklist should be prepared with either a "YES" or "NO" in the "Done?" column. Items with a "NO" are "punch list" items to be tracked until completion.
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