Development phase of idea to project

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Developed by Antti Heikinpoika Helassalo

A project could be described to be scheduled results-oriented multitask unity which includes certain amount of risks. For execution the project organization has to be implemented for the specific project. Each project has its own precisely defined objectives which are developed from the idea. In addition to the objectives the project has to be defined by project organization, time schedule and the resources which are available. Succesful projects are normally achieved by doing thoroughly groundwork of the idea.

This article focuses in the area where is critical that the start of planning process should be involved from the beginning of the idea so all relevant factors could be taken into account for success of the project. The planning is based on the one hand resolving the obstacles in the development process, on the other hand assessing the risk, opportunities and strengths that the project could meet. From the different options should be selected the most effective and durable option. In the article is given choices for different options.


What is a project?

Projects have many different ways to be descriped. However, there are some similarities that all projects have. The most common similarity is a specific time frame. All project have to have beginning and an end. Some operations can be called “project” but they are actually programs as they star to extend indefinitely and cover broader, less specific business objectives.

Project must have clear goal or objective which should be reach in specified time frame. The objective has to be specific, identifiable and can be accomplished. A project normally involves different activities which provides qualifiable and quantifiable results which added together will in the end accomplish the overall project.[1]

Key characteristic of projects:

  • Project have to have boundaries
  • Project is one-time effort, needing different resources
  • There are distinct start and end dated for project

Project Management

Every project has constraint that can be summed into Project Management Triangle also called the Triple Constraint. The diagram on the left demonstrates key attributes which has to be handled effectively for successful completion and closure of any kind of project. The key attributes are time, cost and scope.

Time- Refers to the actual time required to produce a deliverable. Which in this case, would be the end result of the project. Naturally, the amount of time required to produce the deliverable will be directly related to the amount of requirements that are part of the end result (scope) along with the amount of resources allocated to the project.

Cost – This is the estimation of the amount of money that will be required to complete the project. Cost itself encompasses various things, such as: resources, risk estimates, bills of materials, et cetera. All aspects of the project that have a monetary component are made part of the overall cost structure.

Scope – These are the functional elements that, when completed, make up the end deliverable for the project. The scope itself is generally identified up front so as to give the project the best chance of success. (Although scope can potentially change during the project life-cycle, a concept known as ‘scope creep’) Note that the common success measure for the scope aspect of a project is its inherent quality upon delivery. [2]

All these three elements have to go hand by hand so project could be successful in economically and delivered on time. Any changes in one constraint will also affect the two other constraints. These are have to kept in mind when planning and organizing a project. If not, changes in the scope, time or cost of a project will lead to difficulties when the project develops and may also cause in worst circumstances the project to fail.

General of project development

There are many project phases associated with the project management process. The most common construct of the project management process includes 5 phases:

  • 1. initiation
  • 2. planning
  • 3. execution
  • 4. monitor/control
  • 5. closing.

In general, anything prior to the Project Charter which begins the initiation phase is considered Preliminary Planning.The Project Charter is the document that identifies the formal start of a project. It is a good and useful tool for deciding goals, cost and risks of the project. Also in the process of the project developing the charter may also help to clarify and refine the project goals. Preliminary Planning is any work done before the formal project start.

Five phases in project development

  • Initation

In initiation phase the idea for the project will be carefully examined and the goals of the idea determined. After the goals have been chosen the project can be initiated with the first phase. The purpose of this phase is to develop high level plan and risk assessment for the proposed project. Also several high-level project management deliverables are producted in this phase. These will provide foundation for the Project Charter.

  • Planning

Second step is planning of the project. In this phase the project should prioritized, budget calculated, schedule decided and determined the resources. So project plans are written documents on which are determined what has to be done and when. The infrastructure which is established during the planning phase is very critical to effectively manage the projects success. During no other time of project life span is the project more vulnerable than in planning phase.

  • Execution and Monitor/Controlling

These phases are called executing, monitoring and controlling. The phases can be performed simultaneously. The emphasis on these phases is to ensure each deliverable achieves the desired results. Meaning that each objective completes in the designated period, within the designated cost and using the specified allocated resources.

  • Closing

At close out phase all the project activities and deliverables are completed. Final reviews and documentation are completed and delivered to customer. The activities of this phase also ensures that all experience, pros and cons are shared among the people who were involved with the project.

Much of the work in project management falls into the planning phase. It is often one of the most important phases in the project and the focus in this article is also on the planning.


Planning sets project objectives and from the plans are determined which actions should be taken to accomplish them. It is always crucial to define all the objectives before the project starts. In the planning belongs many different detailed backround reports as from economical analysis to social and environmental impacts. From this will result the project plan which is used as project management tool and evaluated the project success.

The most common shortcomings in the project planning are neglect of adequate preliminary studies as well as poor management of the structure concerning the plans. The project plan may not the work as effective as it should.

A closer examination of not so successful projects often also reveals that the projects are planned much of the project producer and experts viewpoint. Stakeholders and the target groups (customers) haven’t been adequately addressed about the project. The beneficiaries commitment has stayed weak because they haven’t had a sufficient enough impact on the project specially on the content or operating models. [3]

Behind of successful project can be found generally thorough groundwork. The implementation model is tailored to the needs and opportunities of the project stakeholders. Planning has involved every branch of the stakeholder network instead that the plans would be drawn by experts who are not involved enough on the project. As early as in the design phase of the project the end of the project has been thought, what is the level needed for accomplishing the objectives and what is needed to be done in order to continue operate in a sustainable basis.

Designers comes easily blind to their own work. Thus, even a good plan may contain risks that the designers are not able to identify. In order to make sure that the plan is reasonable and with minimum risks it should be evaluated critically before the final decision is taken. In large project good choice would be to hire an evaluator outside the organization to check the plan. In smaller projects sufficient option is to have college review to plan who is not participated in designing of the plan. Most optimal situation would be that the project plan could get feedback from all important shareholders.

Preliminary planning

Planning is advisable to start with critical preliminary design stage. From this basis the more precise planning design for the project can be selected. In the preliminary planning is needed to do various backround studies for starting the project and for comparing these studies good method could be to use SWOT analysis.

Preliminary Planning can be a formal or informal process depending on the organization, the culture, and its procedures. Either way, it is a good practice to gather some key information before you begin a project. This process can begin by answering these common Preliminay Planning questions: [4]

  • 1. What is the goal of the project?
  • 2. Who are the known stakeholders?
  • 3. What is the business case for this project?
  • 4. What are the alternatives to providing the deliverables?
  • 5. What is the budget?
  • 6. What is the Scope?
  • 7. What is the project schedule?
  • 8. What are the known deliverables of the project?
  • 9. What is the priority of the project?
  • 10.What are the potential risks?

SWOT analysis

The SWOT analysis is simple tool for identifying not only weaknesses and threats of the plan, but also the strengths and opportunities it makes possible. SWOT analysis puts the plan problems and choices more structured and systematic way. This helps just not to notice the areas where action and decision is needed but also make better choices in the start. SWOT is popular tool among companies because its fast and easy to use. But it can also cause problems being very subjective depending of the person doing the analysis. SWOT analysis should be used more as a guide instead as strict tool.

SWOT is presented by 2x2 matrix, strength/ weaknesses for internal factors and opportunities/threats for external factors.

Decision making phase

Decision making is the study of identifying and choosing alternatives based on the values and preferences of the decision maker. Making a decision implies that there are alternative choices to be considered, and in such a case we want not only to identify as many of these alternatives as possible but to choose the one that best fits with our goals, objectives, desires, values, and so on“ (Baker 2001)

Between preplanning and actual project planning should always be decision making phase on which is determined should the idea be continued or rejected because the risks are too great. Reasons can be various for example that the project wouldn’t be sustainable in the long run or results of the project are not sufficient enough. When defining the scope of the project there are areas which are needed for critical examination. Is there real need and demand for the project? Are there enough strengths and external chances that the idea really has choices for a project?

This decision making phase is practically the only phase where the poor project ideas could be rejected. Very often when the decision making phase have passed cancelling the project is not anymore option. Different project partners have committed themselves so strongly on the project that nobody is not anymore ready to put the project to an end. The project partners have put too much resources on the certain project that pulling the plug is not anymore option.

Decision making should start with the identification of the decision makers and stakeholders in the decision,reducing the possible disagreement about problem definition, requirements, goals and criteria. Then, a general decision making process can be divided into the following steps: [5]

  • Step 1. Define the problem

The goal is to express the issue in a clear, one-sentence problem statement that describes both the initial conditions and the desired conditions.

  • Step 2. Determine requirements

Requirements are conditions that any acceptable solution to the problem must meet.

  • Step 3. Establish goals

Goals are broad statements of what is needed for accomplishing the plan. The goals may be conflicting but this is a natural for practical decision situations.

  • Step 4. Identify alternatives

Alternatives offer different approaches for changing the initial condition into the desired condition.

  • Step 5. Define criteria

It can be helpful to group together criteria into a series of sets that relate to separate and distinguishable components of the overall objective for the decision. Criteria should include all goals.

  • Step 6. Select a decision making tool

There are several tools for solving a decision problem. Sometimes “the simpler method, the better” but complex decision problems may require complex methods, as well.

  • Step 7. Evaluate alternatives against criteria

Every correct method for decision making needs the evaluation of the alternatives against the criteria.

  • Step 8. Validate solutions against problem statement

Risks in the decision making

In projects risks are often constant issue. Possible risk factors affects on the project and raises the questions that is the selected approach feasible and on sustainable basis?

The risks can be external on which case the possible outcome is not anything that the project organization can influence. For example changes in the shareholders commitment in the project or unexpected changes on the world economy. Only measure what can be made is to do enough backround investigations on how big the risks are. From the external risk factors is needed either to have sufficient assures that the risk is not probable or customize the plan so that the risks will not have a significant impact on the project implementation or sustainability.

Internal risks is often due of the project own implementation model. The risk can be prevented by designing the model in a way that the possibility of the risks happening stays minimal.

Good planning is that the preliminary solution for the model is systematic and from the external/internal threats has been made comprehensive risk analysis. The analysis should cover economic, technical, cultural and environmental factors. Project approach is to be changed if the probability of risk happening is high and it could affect either the implementation or sustainability of the project. In practise, the risk can be assessed in the same manner as its benefits. In general the risk focuses often in the same problem area.



In start of any project, planning gives direction to the project and determine the course where the project is heading. Without this there wouldn’t be any goals and work in the project organization would be random. With clear goal through planning the project organization is also easier to face uncertainties and unexpected situations. Planning helps to confront the unexpected situations by making some assumptions regarding future with risks analysis. The analysis include situations like fire or other calamities in the organization. The analysis are kept aside in the plan to meet such uncertainties. With these the organization is more ready to make various decisions. As in planning goals are set in advance and predictions are made for future.These predictions and goals helps the organization to take fast decisions.


Planning process is very time-consuming process. It takes often long time to evaluate all the different alternatives and selecting the best one. Because of this time often runs out in a project planning and people making the plans are in hurry to make decisions which in the end wouldn’t have been the best choice. Planning involves also lot of cost as being long process. For some projects the organization has to hire outside expert which raises the cost even more. If in the project the benefits of the planning are not more than its cost then the planning should not be carried on.

The project rarely goes exact as it is planned. In planning many assumptions are made without knowing the future because future stays always uncertain. So even the best plan does not guarantee success.


  1. [] Project Management Methodology Guidelines Available at:
  2. [] Project Planning & Procurement Available at:
  3. [] Project guide Available at:
  4. [] Project guide Available at:
  5. Project Management Institute®, 2000, A guide to the Project Management body of knowledge. Pennsylvania [Available online]
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