As a consultant working with many clients in developing an information technology system or software application, there is a critical phase in the product life cycle that is almost always overlooked. The process of project initiation.

Project initiation is the process of defining the who, what, where, when, and why.  It provides the business a high level road map defining what the system or application is to accomplish. It  defines who will be the leaders of the project, why the organization is doing the project and when in the life cycle of the business do they wish to have this project completed. This phase provides the information in making a decision to proceed or stop the project before resources are allocated. By bringing all stakeholders together, this ensures that the project will meet the business needs and be aligned with the business strategy.

More importantly, this phase of a project is the opportunity for the business to align its strategic objectives with the right tools. Technology for most businesses is a tool. An like all tools, you need the right tool to complete the job. Implementing a new system without the strategic view of the business, could result in a negative return on investment and failing to deliver a good, product or service.

During this phase it is a great time to document the following:

  • How the business flows.
  • Where data is stored and who has access.
  • Are there duplications?
  • How old are the current systems?
  • What experience are you providing to your customers?

There is an old saying; you can’t automate what you can’t document.