The CONCEPT phase encourages thoughtful work prior to formally initiating a project. This phase helps the sponsor, project manager, and organizational change 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, organizational change 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 an opportunity to evaluate the sponsoring organization’s readiness for undertaking and accepting the project results, and an analysis of possible organizational impacts.
Prior to the commencement of the CONCEPT Phase, potential sponsors, project managers, and organizational change manager are encouraged to review the General Guidance related to the Value Management Framework.
Prepare for initiation discussions regarding the potential project. Sponsors should review the Role of the Sponsor. This publication helps sponsors prepare for their role in a project. Additionally, the sponsor should read the Sponsor Checklist CONCEPT for an outline of activities for this phase.
Hold the initial sponsor and project manager/ organizational change manager meeting. During the meeting, the sponsor should discuss with the project manager and organizational change manager, the business objectives of the project and the vision for the project outcomes. With the project manager, discuss any constraints (time or budget) and quality expectations. The vision may be based on business drivers (external or internal) and the strategies that an organization uses in response to these forces. The vision embodies the long-term outcomes that the organization wishes to achieve, and is written to be inspirational and memorable.
The sponsor and project manager conduct high level research, generally through outreach to peer organizations, web and literature searches, and third-party research organizations to gain an understanding of how the business problem may have been addressed elsewhere. This research should include market opportunities, the scope and outcomes of like projects, and policy, rule and law review. This helps illustrate potential avenues for resolution and provide some context for the scope, scale, and potential complexity of the proposed project. This preliminary market research provides context for future project decisions and supplies the sponsor and project manager with valuable intelligence about what options may be available to achieve the desired business objectives.
The sponsor and project manager complete the 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. It also may include some of the information from the preliminary market research. An agency-based business case may be significantly more complex than the summary version and, if that is the case, it should replace the simplified template.
The sponsor and project manager discuss and document the project scope. This may be completed via the Scope Definition toolkit 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 organizational change 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 the change strategy and plan the change management components 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, project manager and organizational change manager 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. Any identified pertinent lessons learned should be flagged for discussion during the development of risks.