Initiate Idea Phase

Phase Zero

People constantly come up with ideas that may, or may not turn into a project. In order to gain value from these ideas, some preliminary discussion needs to take place to understand the idea in a little more detail. We want to turn the 'idea' into a documented 'concept' that is more clearly defined.

If the idea does warrant further work - either now or in the future - it needs to be recorded, and logged as an actionable item.

In order to do this, some high level exploration is required. We need to clearly understand what is in somebody's head. We need to get the idea down on paper and turn it into a documented concept. We need to understand who will be impacted by the idea. We need to understand how it will benefit the organisation. Finally we need to get it into some sort of system where it can be prioritised and managed along with other concepts.

Initiate Idea
Advise IT
Prepare Concept Paper
Review Concept Paper
Determine Priority
Plan Phase Zero Phase Zero Gate    
  • Somebody's good idea
  • A Concept Paper that will identify the idea
  • The Concept recorded within a log of potential projects
  • Identification of the priority
  • Plan for Phase Zero
 The work involved should take less than two days. It may be spread over a week if availability of particular people who need to be involved is an issue.
  • Idea Initiator
  • Business Analyst
  • Other stakeholders as required

In terms of customising the activities for your organisation, the driving factor is how many potential projects your organisation may need to manage. If you are a small organisation where you only have one or two a month, you can probably get by with minimal documentation. Sometimes, a name on a list is enough for everyone to understand what is being suggested. On the other hand, the "to do" list can quickly get out of control, so it is good to have a formal process to log suggestions.

The other consideration is that by getting people to complete some high level details, it forces them to think through the proposal and amend or even drop the idea. A flash of inspiration may disappear when it is given some more consideration. For a small organisation, the whole phase may last one or two hours. For larger organisations where multiple parties need to be involved, it can run to a few days.

The person who wants their idea initiated should contact the IT department. After a preliminary discussion, a Business Analyst will be assigned to investigate. The BA will arrange a meeting with the Initiator and discuss the proposed activity.

The discussion will determine:

  • What - What is the idea
  • Who - Who will be impacted or should be involved as a stakeholder
  • Why - What is the problem it is trying to address and what benefits will it bring to the organisation
  • When - The degree of urgency
  • How - What, if any, is the proposed approach to taking the idea and turning it into reality

Following the discussion, a Concept Paper (typically one or two pages) will be prepared and discussed with the Initiator. Once they have agreed that the paper reflects the thoughts of the Initiator, the Initiator and BA will discuss the priority with IT and agree a recommended priority.

Initiating a Project White Paper that talks about the initiation of a project
Why do I need a Project Manager? White paper on why you need a project manager, and the dangers of trying to undertake a project without one. Talks about what a PM will do in the project.

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