I've often been asked what the biggest risk is to the successful delivery of any project. Having experienced my share of triumphs and disasters I've reached the conclusion that the seeds of both are sown at the beginning.
This is for several reasons: firstly I don't think people always properly consider if what they are doing is a change programme, a portfolio of projects or a single project. This might seem like semantics but actually it can be overwhelmingly significant and the answer makes a huge difference to how the team is organised and managed.
In my view this is a mistake. The devil is in the detail and programme / project initiation must be adequately resourced both in terms of time and expertise to ensure that the scope, approach, timescale, plan, benefits, quality expectations and risks are fully understood and baselined.
Ironically the third reason is that at the start of any project there tends to be a rush to action. To tick tasks off the list. Spending time stressing about a Project Initiation Document may seem like an administrative issue demanded by some pedantic, methodology mad consultant.
If it isn't done properly however the risk is that you either won't reach go-live or, if you do, that one or more key stakeholders will begin a conversation with the words "Oh! I didn't realise...."
Written by Mike Gamble: JEM Retail Consultants