Many projects suffer a poorly managed, if not skipped, concept phase. I think this may be because it requires a lot of work and seems to yield few benefits.
But skipping this phase is like painting a wall before you clean and plaster it.
In the concept phase, we get rid of pre-conceptions and focus on the requirements of users and stakeholders. It is now that we agree the amount of innovation we will introduce. And balance the cost of creativity against potential benefits. Even if we can’t put a price on those benefits.
- Communications with stakeholders
- Project requirements
- Project context/ environment
- Success and acceptance criteria
Once we know what is needed, we choose a solution. We also seek risks and issues in the concept phase. We allow time to manage both and are honest about their impact on our business case or our ability to meet requirements.
- Top level solutions and option appraisal
- Financial business case
- High-level work breakdown structure
- High-level budget and schedule
We build a strategy for our project, making sure we engage the right people in the team and the steering group. And we document everything. A report for the sponsor, project manager and project team. A summary for key stakeholders (linking back to the report).
- Project strategy – risk management, quality management etc
- Project team and structure
- Appoint key people
- Business case document and presentation (aka Project Initiation Document)