The CONCEPT phase encourages thoughtful work prior to formally initiating a project. This phase helps the sponsor and project manager determine the purpose of the project (business case), the scope boundaries, and the risk profile of the project. It also allows the project manager and sponsor to review lessons learned to determine if the project should be undertaken. This phase identifies the business drivers, problems, opportunities, and objectives the project is intended to address, and shows how the project concept aligns with the strategic direction of the organization, or not. The CONCEPT phase also provides a opportunity to evaluate the sponsoring organization’s readiness for undertaking and accepting the project results, and an analysis of possible organizational impacts.
Prepare for initiation discussions regarding the potential project. Sponsors should review the Sponsor Guide. The guide helps project sponsors prepare for their role in a project.
Hold the initial sponsor and project manager meeting. During the meeting, you should discuss the business objectives of the project, the vision for the project outcomes, any constraints (time or budget) and quality expectations. The vision statement may be based on business drivers (external or internal) and the strategies that an organization uses in response to these forces. The statement should embody the long-term outcomes that the organization wishes to achieve. A vision statement typically strives to be inspirational and memorable, and reflect the desires of those with vested interests in the project.
The sponsor and project manager complete the brief business case using the business case template and instructions. The business case is a structured proposal that justifies a project for decision makers. It includes an analysis of business process performance and requirements, assumptions, and issues, and presents the risks by explaining strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Your business case may be significantly more complex than the summary version and, if that is the case, it replace the simplified template.
The sponsor and project manager discuss and document the project scope. This may be completed via the scope tool or in another format. The scope is used during initiation and planning to help establish the boundaries of the project and what will and will not be included in it. It also contains information on proposed deliverables, assumptions and constraints.
The sponsor and project manager complete the readiness assessment tool that helps identify and characterize the organizational complexities of the change associated with the proposed project. The results are used to help define and plan the change management component of the project.
The sponsor and project manager complete the project classification template, which is a self-assessment tool that helps reveal and characterize the business and technical complexities of the proposed project (the risk profile). The results help define the level of risk and visibility associated with the project and may drive decisions about how the project will be undertaken and managed.
The sponsor and project manager individually review lessons learned guidance for potential pitfalls and resolutions encountered in prior projects. Lessons learned are a repository of knowledge gained during similar projects, showing how project events were addressed or should be addressed in the future for the purpose of improving future performance. Documented experiences can be used to improve the future management of projects. Any identified pertinent lessons learned should be flagged for discussion during the development of risks.
The sponsor approves the business case, readiness assessment and project classification. The project manager submits the materials to agency project governance for review. The Concept phase review is a formal, examination of the above work products to ensure the foundation of the project has been established and the supporting information to promote advancement to the next phase is completed.