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Lifecycle   »   SETUP   »   SETUP Define

We all have spectacularly brilliant ideas for projects. However, in reality our projects will deliver something tangible and beneficial especially when they combine scarce resource and large risk. In the define stage, our project is not really a project yet. At this stage, it is only a proposal. The proposal needs to be evaluated and we need to evaluate different things.

During the Define phase we establish a project and its applicable change proposal, defining the change, costs, benefits, scope and strategy for the project. The change proposal is signed off by the business sponsor when it represents the intentions of the business for this project and demonstrates a cost effective way to deliver the proposed benefits.

The change proposal may only have one option to deliver the project and in this scenario the decision is less complex. However, almost certainly, most projects involve some choice of the alternative delivery options available. These may have distinct cost demands, involve different risk profiles and have several benefit delivery possibilities. There may also be some other criteria your organisation uses to

The process to evaluate and assess the various delivery options is presented in the section on project portfolio management elsewhere in the Toolkit.

An assessment of feasibility, achievability or viability (whichever word you prefer) is the first check we make. In essence, we assess whether there is a business difficulty to solve and then understand whether it is something we will fix or improve. Basically, have we really got something that needs mending? Once we have established these two conclusions positively, we will assess whether we have the capability in terms of resources: human, financial and organisational. Basically, can we do it either internally or with external assistance? Once we have confirmed we have a business problem that requires fixing and we can do it, we find out is it worth doing.

For the purposes of the Define phase however we are interested purely in defining what the change, scope and strategy are and what the real opportunity is for realisable benefits. We research the proposed change and present this in a change proposal which is reviewed and approved by our change board. The approved change proposal is the output from the define phase and is owned by the Project Sponsor.

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