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Under PRINCE2® initiation is a specific process called Initiating a Project.
The purpose of Initiating a Project is to draw up a ‘contract’ between the Project Board and the Project Manager.

The ‘contract’ is in the form of the Project Initiation Document.

For others ‘initiation’ refers to the gathering of particular pieces of information to get the project underway.
The concerns described below will be common to all projects.

Failure to pay attention to all the requirements before the start of the project can lead to serious problems for its success.
Everyone should agree exactly what the project is and what it aims to deliver.

Prepare the Project Notebook

Many projects will generate a Project Notebook.

The Project Notebook (see detail later) may take different formats.
It will define the authority of the Project Manager and the Project Sponsor (customer or client), as well as many other aspects of the project.
These might include:

  • problem statement
  • mission statement
  • Set objectives
  • Agree budgets
  • Gain project approval etc

The Project Notebook could be considered as the ‘project plan’ as it could contain everything that anyone would want to know about the project … like a Bible.
The latter acts as a sort of contract between the project team and the Project Sponsor.

Who exactly is the customer? This will need consideration for the Project Notebook.

Objectives need to be agreed and budgets finalised for the project.
In practice, the budget may well be set.
However, it should derive from an initial assessment of the project, which is translated into a realistic schedule.
In the early stages the estimated cost may well be quite inaccurate (see the section on Estimating later).

It will depend on just how much time is spent planning and hence, how realistic the schedule becomes.
The overall project plan i.e. the Project Notebook (objectives, budget etc) and schedule should be agreed and signed off by all stakeholders prior to any plan being implemented.

However, it is quite common for certain activities to be underway before final sign off!

Define and agree the Terms of Reference document

This is described in more detail later.

Under PRINCE2 the Project Brief is an important document at the beginning of a project.

For PRINCE2 2005 the external trigger for the project is the Project Mandate.
The sub-process ‘Preparing a Project Brief (SU4)’ checks its content to see if the information is current and correct and where necessary enhances it into the Project Brief.
[see Starting up a Project (SU) - part 5 - Preparing a Project Brief (SU4)]

Under PRINCE2 2009 the way in which the work is to be conducted will depend on any customer or supplier standards, practices and guidelines - for example, any specific development lifecycles that may apply.

These should be captured in the Project Brief as part of the project approach, as they will influence the project strategies to be created in the Initiating a Project process. It also ensures that the project approach is clearly understood between customer and supplier, and does not jeopardize the project in any way.
[see Starting up a project – Activities - Select the project approach and assemble the Project Brief]

Also, under PRINCE2 2009 [see ‘The Complete Project Management plus PRINCE2’] there needs to be a focal point at which all information relating to the ‘what, why, who, how, where, when, and how much’ of the project is:

  • Gathered for agreement by the key stakeholders
  • Available for guidance and information for those involved in the project

This information is collated into the Project Initiation Documentation.
A starting point for this documentation is the Project Brief.
[see Initiating a project – Activities - Assemble the Project Initiation Documentation]

PRINCE2® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries.