What is Project Initiation?

April 15, 2024 ยท 5 min read

Project initiation marks the birth of a project, coinciding with the creation of one of the most crucial documents for both the manager and the team: the project charter. This document emerges at the very moment a project is conceived and stands as the sole plan that cannot be altered. Thus, it's imperative to get it right from the outset. A poorly drafted charter not only burdens the manager but the entire team as well.

What Is a Project Charter?

So, what exactly is a project charter? According to a somewhat grim definition from the PMBOK, the project charter is a document issued by the project's initiator or sponsor that formally authorizes the project's existence and provides the project manager with the authority to use organizational resources in project operations. 

In layman's terms, it's essentially a contract between the sponsor and project manager that outlines what needs to be done and who is responsible.

When does this charter come into being? Recall the python principle โ€” the project lifecycle. Our journey begins with initiation.

What Is Project Initiation?

Consider a recent example where we visited a client to understand their requirements. Afterward, as a manager, you and the sponsor ponder whether you can fulfill them or not. Following feedback to the client and mutual agreement, a handshake signifies the end of the initiation phase. We transition from discussing an idea to launching a project.

It's vital to understand that initiation is not about a sponsor ordering a project into existence, but about discussing input to see what's feasible. If you, as a manager, are being pulled into a doomed project with no chance of success, it's crucial to be able to say no to the sponsor.

The Role of the Project Charter

Once there's agreement and the project starts, a project charter is created. No charter, no project. 

Without a charter, how can the success of a project manager be evaluated? Project boundaries are undefined. Changes inevitably arise in any project: new client desires, a sponsor's constant wish to reallocate resources to another project. To assess the satisfaction of key stakeholders, some criteria are needed. 

Project contracts are easily amended, but the charter serves as a baseline agreement that cannot be changed like contracts or schedules. Without a charter, distinguishing a good manager from a poor one is challenging.

The Role of Stakeholder Register in Project Initiation

The charter is not only crucial for the sponsor but critically important for the manager as well. However, there's another artifact that predates the charter: the stakeholder register. So, what is a stakeholder register?

Simply put, this is a list where we note all our stakeholders. The register is considered a part of agile internal plans and is subject to refinement and updates, with stakeholders coming and going. 

This register forms the basis for developing requirements and strategies for stakeholder engagement. During the initiation phase, we simply list these stakeholders, aiding in charter development and future considerations for risks, budgeting, and more.


Project initiation and the creation of the project charter are fundamental processes in project management. These early steps ensure that the project has a clear direction and that all parties involved have a common understanding of its objectives and requirements. 

By effectively managing these initial stages, project managers can lay a solid foundation for successful project execution and stakeholder satisfaction.

๐Ÿ”Ž Read our next article in this series: "What Is a Project Charter?"

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