Project Initiation: A Guide to Starting a Successful Project

Billy Guinan
By | Updated March 11, 2024 | 15 min read

Key Take Aways

What you’ll learn:

  • What are the key components of project initiation and the outputs you should be looking for from this project phase
  • How to initiate and plan a project with your team and stakeholders
  • Why you should be using project management templates to accelerate project kick-off


Every project starts with an idea. Delivering this idea successfully relies on a consistent approach to project initiation.

There are many different project methodologies to use, depending on the project, company practices, and the team. Regardless of the approach, most project teams will work through distinct phases of activity.

The five phases, or process groups, of project management defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a common way to structure projects. The very first phase is Project Initiation.

In this blog, we will cover the key components of initiating a project, as well as some examples of how you can leverage existing tools (like Microsoft 365) to manage the process efficiently.

You will see how you can use Microsoft 365, Teams, and the Power Platform to optimize project intake and start working on the right projects at the right time.

Manage Projects with Microsoft 365, Power Platform, and Teams

Collaborate seamlessly from anywhere, with BrightWork 365 and Microsoft Teams.

What Are The Key Components of Project Initiation?

The Initiating phase is the foundation of your project. During this stage, you need to:

  • Establish the business case for the project.
  • Ensure the project aligns to your organization’s strategic goals.
  • Prepare an initial budget and timeline.
  • Pick a methodology for the project (Agile, Waterfall, etc).
  • Select and assign the right team members.
  • Involve relevant stakeholders.


Now let’s take a closer look at some of the key outputs of the project initiation phase. The steps for project initiation may vary depending on the organization and project requirements, but generally include the following:

Identify the project need

The first step is to identify the need for the project. This involves determining the problem that the project will solve or the opportunity that it will create. The first step often starts with a business case, which explains the objectives, purpose, and deliverables (outputs) of the project. The document should clearly explain how the project aligns with the organization’s strategy and what business value is expected from the deliverables.

Define project objectives

The next step is to define the project objectives, which should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Clearly explain how the project aligns with the organization’s strategy and what business value is expected from the deliverables.

Identify stakeholders

Identify the stakeholders who need to be involved in the project. This includes internal like the project sponsor, project manager, and team members, as well as external stakeholders, such as customers, employees, suppliers, regulatory bodies, and shareholders. Stakeholders can be categorized into the following groups, simplifying communication and engagement:

  • High power, high interest
  • High power, less interest
  • Low power, high interest
  • Low power, low interest.
Stakeholder Power Interest Grid BrightWork

Conduct a feasibility study

Conduct a feasibility study to determine if the project is viable. This involves assessing the technical, economic, legal, and organizational feasibility of the project. You may also want to outline potential risks and outline key resources needed to complete the project, including the team.

Develop a project charter

Develop a project charter that outlines the project’s purpose, objectives, scope, stakeholders, and high-level requirements. The project charter serves as the foundation for the project and provides a clear understanding of what the project is trying to achieve.

Obtain approval

Approval processes vary from organization to organization. Be sure to double-check what’s needed with the project sponsor or the Project Management Office (PMO).Obtain approval from the project sponsor or senior management to proceed with the project.

Identify project team

Identify the project team members who will be responsible for executing the project. This includes a project manager, project sponsor, and other team members with relevant expertise. Depending on how resources are distributed within your organization, you may need to formally request that team members are assigned to your project. Once the team is in place, run a kick-off meeting before any work starts. This will ensure everyone is on the same page, understands the goals of the project, and is clear about their role in delivering this objective.

Develop a project plan

Develop a project plan that outlines the project’s schedule, resources, and budget. The project plan serves as a roadmap for the project and helps ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget, and meets the project’s objectives.

Develop a risk management plan

Develop a risk management plan that identifies potential risks associated with the project and outlines strategies for mitigating those risks.

Develop a communication plan

Develop a communication plan that outlines the communication strategy for the project. The communication plan identifies the stakeholders, communication channels, and frequency of communication.

Select your project methodology

A methodology is a roadmap for the project, providing instructions and guidance to your team. Picking a methodology ensures everyone knows what to do and when to do it. It also helps to standardize how work is completed, which makes tracking and reporting much easier!

There are several popular methodologies to choose from, such as PRINCE2, Critical Path Management, Waterfall, Agile, Scrum, Hybrid, and Kanban. No method is better than another – it’s about the project and your team.

At BrightWork, we use the below spectrum to help our customers decide how much project management is needed. As you can see, some projects require a lighter touch whilst others need more rigorous project management processes.

Project Management Guide Project Spectrum

How to Initiate a Project

Now let’s put project initiation into practice!

Microsoft 365 is a suite of productivity tools that includes a variety of applications that can be leveraged for project management and collaboration, such as SharePoint, Teams, Power Apps, Power BI, and Power Automate.

With BrightWork 365, you can manage the entire project initiation process within Microsoft 365.

Identify the project need

BrightWork 365 uses Power Apps and Power Automate to manage project requests. There is a a form where anyone can submit requests for new projects. This form should include fields to capture the project’s name, objectives, expected benefits, and any other relevant information.

Define project objectives

Using the same request form, the user can add more information to define the project’s objectives and also attach any relevant documents the approver may need to review. This can help ensure that the objectives are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

Identify stakeholders

The request form lets you list of stakeholders who will be affected by the project, like the Project Sponsor and Project Manager, as well as the request reviewers and approvers. This list can include information such as their name, role, contact information, and level of influence on the project.

Conduct a feasibility study

Use Excel to create a spreadsheet to assess the technical, economic, legal, and organizational feasibility of the project. This can help identify potential risks, challenges, and opportunities associated with the project. You can attach this document to your new project request in BrightWork 365.

Obtain approval

Use Microsoft Flow (now called Power Automate) to create a workflow that sends the project charter for approval to the project sponsor or senior management. This workflow can include notifications and reminders to ensure timely approval.

BrightWork 365 has multiple approval Business Process Flows dependent on the project template selected in the request.

power automate project request flow diagram

Develop a project charter

For approved projects, you’ll want to create a project site template. BrightWork 365 automatically provisions a Power App project site based on the template selected in the request.

It will pull in all the information from your project request for the project charter, including fields to capture the project’s purpose, objectives, scope, stakeholders, and high-level requirements.

Identify project team

Every BrightWork 365 template has a “Team” tab. The “Team” tab shows the list of all team members on the project, as well as when they rolled on and off the project. These team members are automatically pulled from project plan. Clicking the team member will show you information like their include their name, role, contact information, and relevant expertise.

Develop a project plan

Once you have the project approved and a site provisioned, create a Gantt chart or a timeline to outline the project schedule and work breakdown structure. This can help ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget, and meets the project’s objectives.

Develop a risk management plan

You may have created a risk assessment document identify potential risks associated with the project and outline strategies for mitigating those risks. This can be added to the SharePoint Online document library in your project site. If you’re using a template that has a Risks list, the risks can be logged there as well for visibility at the project level. Those risks would roll up to the program and portfolio level as well.

Develop a communication plan

You can also use Teams to create a site or a list of stakeholders as part of your communication strategy for the project. This can help ensure that all stakeholders are kept informed of the project’s progress and any changes that may affect them. BrightWork 365 automatically creates a Team for each of the Portfolios and a channel with that Team for each project within that portfolio, giving your project team a place to collaborate and converse – right in Microsoft 365!

Overall, Microsoft 365 provides a variety of tools that can be used to manage project initiation. By leveraging these tools, organizations can streamline the process, increase collaboration, and ensure that all stakeholders are engaged and informed throughout the project’s lifecycle.

Accelerate Project Initiation With Project Management Templates

As we mentioned above, project management is a spectrum. Some of your projects will require a minimal amount of process while others will complex, fully structured project management.

The best way to meet this spectrum of project management is to have your project methodologies baked into templates for your organization to use.

Having project management templates gives your project teams a set of rail tracks to follow while they work on the project. It not only gives them a collaborative workspace in which to work, but also guides them in the way your organization manages projects. The key is that your templates have the process you need and can absorb baked in.

BrightWork 365 currently ships with three templates out of the box (with more on the way!)

One final benefit of centralizing project management on the Microsoft platform with BrightWork 365, is that all the information you gathered in the project initiation and approval process is automatically populated in the new project site.

Billy Guinan
Billy Guinan

BrightWork Demand Generation Manager • Marketing

Working with a range of B2B SaaS project portfolio management software for nearly 15 years, Billy specializes in best practices and methods of how to leverage Microsoft 365, Teams, Power Platform, and SharePoint to make project management easier. His focus areas are Collaborative Project Management and Template-Driven Project Management on the Microsoft platform. Beyond all things BrightWork, Billy enjoys reading, trying to golf, and walking his pug named Nova.

Read Full Bio
Don't forget to share this post!