How to Start a Project – with Templates for Microsoft 365

Billy Guinan
By | Updated April 13, 2023 | 17 min read

Key Take Aways

The article outlines six key steps to start any project:

  • defining project goals and objectives,
  • defining project scope,
  • selecting a project management framework and tools,
  • developing a project plan and timeline,
  • identifying team members,
  • and tracking and monitoring progress.


You’ll learn the importance of leveraging project management templates to streamline the process and ensure that all necessary steps are taken. By following these steps, project managers can set their teams up for success and ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.

Manage Projects and Portfolios with Microsoft 365

See how you can start any project using templates for Microsoft 365, Power Platform, and Teams.

Getting your project started can be difficult task at the best of times and it can often be hard to even know where to start! This article will cover 6 key steps on how to start a project and also explain why you should leverage project management templates in Microsoft 365 as the starting point.

Starting a project is more than just creating a list of tasks that need to be done; the steps to start a project begin way before that.

You need to clearly identify the purpose of the project, define what’s in and out of scope, and select the project management methodology you’ll use to manage the work with your team.

Leveraging collaborative project management software like BrightWork 365 will also help you to plan the project timeline, streamline team communication, and track your progress.

1. Define Your Goals and Objectives

First things first: decide your project goals.

The goals of a project are the specific objectives that the project team is aiming to accomplish.

This typically involves engaging stakeholders to identify their needs and requirements, and then using that information to define specific, measurable objectives that the project team can work towards.

Ultimately, the goals of a project should be clearly defined, measurable, and aligned with the strategic vision of your organization.

Managing Your Project Goals In BrightWork 365

You will want to document your goals and objectives in a project charter or project statement.

Sometimes this can be a physical document, but capturing the project charter within your project management solution makes it visible to the entire team and helps guide the project throughout its lifecycle.

In BrightWork 365, all project templates have a Charter tab, where you can clearly document the goals and objective of the project.

how to start a project - project charter

2. Define Your Project Scope

What is the actual work you will need to do in order to achieve your goals?

Look at each individual goal you have decided upon and agree with your team on what need to do in order to achieve it.

Defining the scope of a project involves identifying and documenting all the specific deliverables, tasks, and goals that are necessary to achieve the project’s objectives.

The scope of a project provides a clear understanding of what is included in the project and what is not, as well as what the project team is expected to accomplish.

Defining Your Project Scope in BrightWork 365

Identify project objectives: Start by identifying the overall objectives of the project. This will help you to understand the specific goals that the project needs to achieve, and will guide the definition of the scope.

how to start a project - project objectives

Identify project stakeholders: Identify all of the stakeholders who will be impacted by the project. This includes the project sponsor, team members, customers, end-users, and any other relevant parties.

how to start a project - project stakeholders

Identify project deliverables: Identify all of the deliverables that need to be produced by the project. These may include documents, reports, software applications, hardware components, or any other items that are necessary to achieve the project objectives.

how to start a project - project deliverables

Define project boundaries: Define the boundaries of the project by specifying what is included in the project and what is not. This helps to ensure that the project team stays focused on the specific goals of the project.

how to start a project - project boundaries

Establish project constraints: Identify any constraints that will impact the project, such as budget limitations, resource constraints, or time limitations. These constraints should be taken into account when defining the scope of the project.

how to start a project - project constraints

Obtain stakeholder approval: Once the scope of the project has been defined, it is important to obtain approval from all of the relevant stakeholders. This helps to ensure that everyone is aligned on the goals and objectives of the project and that there are no misunderstandings.

how to start a project - project stakeholder approval

3. Select Your Project Management Framework and Tools

Choosing a project management framework depends on a variety of factors, including the size and complexity of the project, the industry you are working in, and the needs and preferences of the project team.

Here are some considerations to keep in mind when deciding on a project management framework:


  • Project size and complexity: The size and complexity of the project are major factors in deciding which project management framework to use. For example, a small project with a single team might benefit from a lighter framework like Kanban or Scrum, while a large project with multiple teams and stakeholders might require a more comprehensive project management process.
  • Industry and project type: Different industries and project types may require different frameworks to be used. For instance, construction projects may require a more traditional framework like Waterfall due to the strict schedule and budget constraints, while software development projects may require an agile framework like Scrum because of the need for flexibility and quick feedback loops.
  • Team experience and expertise: The experience and expertise of the project team can influence the choice of framework. If the team is experienced in using a specific framework, it might be best to stick with that framework to maintain consistency and avoid additional training. However, if the team is new to project management, a framework that is lighter and easier to adopt is better.
  • Organizational culture: The organizational culture can also play a role in choosing a framework. For example, if the organization values collaboration and flexibility, an Agile framework may be more suitable than a traditional Waterfall framework that emphasizes strict processes and procedures.

Using Project Management Templates in BrightWork 365

Choosing a project management framework involves weighing a variety of factors to determine which framework will best fit the project’s unique needs and requirements.

By considering factors such as project size and complexity, industry and project type, team experience and expertise, organizational culture, and stakeholder expectations, project managers can make an informed decision about which framework to use.

BrightWork 365 ships with three out of the box project management templates (with many more on the way), which are all predesigned and configured with varying amounts of project management process.

how to start a project - project management templates

These templates can be configured to have as much or as little in the Business Process Workflows that your business requires.

4. Develop Your Project Plan and Timeline

Create an actionable, systematic, and logical plan – called a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

Building a WBS involves breaking down the project into smaller, more manageable components and then defining goals for each component.

This helps to ensure that the goals are aligned with the overall project objective and that the project team has a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished and by when.

Your project plan should outlines the steps you will take to complete the project and include timelines, milestones, and objectives.

Develop Your Project Plan in BrightWork 365

You can create your project project with a few clicks in BrightWork 365 and manage the schedule with an interactive Gantt chart.

The Gantt chart in BrightWork 365 supports Tasks, Sub-Tasks, Duration, Dependencies, and Resource Assignments, as well as drag-and-drop rescheduling, project baselines, and more.

5. Identify Your Team Members

A key step in starting any project is the identification of the various team members to be involved.

This step must be considered from two viewpoints:

  • Who do you already have? Identify their strengths and weaknesses relative to the objectives of the project.
  • Who do you need? Look for gaps in your team based on your goals and fill them in with the necessary skill sets.


So simple, yet so vital! Delegating work will not only allow you to work faster but it will also develop the skills of the rest of the team… so everyone wins!

Managing the Project Team in BrightWork 365

In Step 4 you planned the project and identified the individuals who will be responsible for completing specific tasks and assign roles accordingly.

The Team tab in your BrightWork 365 template automatically populates with the names of work item assignees, and the earliest start dates and latest finish dates across all the work assigned to them.

how to start a project - team list

You’ll also want to establish clear lines of communication with all team members involved in the project. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the project is moving forward as planned.

In BrightWork 365, you can use the Commuications Log that is built into some of our project templates.

how to start a project - microsoft teams

Keep open lines of communication throughout which will ensure you and your teammates are up to speed with what is going on around you.

Meet regularly to go over your progress and make any necessary changes due to unexpected bumps in the road!

6. Track and Monitor Your Progress

The final step is to get working on your project and monitor it continuously throughout the process using a collaborative project management tool.

Track and Monitor Your Progress with BrightWork 365

Regularly monitor progress against the project plan to ensure that the project is progressing as planned against the baseline.

how to start a project - project schedule baseline

Communicate effectively with all stakeholders throughout the project via regular updates, project status reports, and any changes to the project plan.

how to start a project - status report

Identify and manage risks and issues as they arise. This includes developing contingency plans and making any necessary adjustments to the project plan.

how to start a project - dashboards

Editors note: This post was orignally published in March 2018 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensivness.

Manage Projects and Portfolios with Microsoft 365

See how you can start any project using templates for Microsoft 365, Power Platform, and Teams.

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!