Agile Project Initiation

This content is syndicated from by Kelly Waters. To view the original post in full, click here.

Agile Project InitiationI've written before about how I think Agile Project Management alone is not enough. Project Initiation is one of the areas of agile methods that I think needs embelishment for large projects.

Over the years, I've used quite a few techniques for project initiation.

But I've never really come across an agile one.

My first experience of formal project initiation was a Project Definition Report in Method1, a very traditional methodology from Anderson Consulting as they were known then; now Accenture.

Then, as a Project Manager, I used a PID (Project Initiation Document) from the PRINCE2 project management methodology, which I guess is probably the most widely used today.

In MSF (Microsoft Solutions Framework), there's the Vision & Scope document.

Truth is, they're all pretty similar really. Long documents, with lots of details about a project and how it's going to be run. Long, tedious documents.

Yet, for large projects, they are important.

As a Project Manager, I always found the thought process they made me go through was incredibly useful. I personally benefited from writing them; that's for sure. Without them, the project could be poorly thought through. And the chances of failure would certainly be higher.

So the thinking was valuable. Trouble was, no-one wanted to read those lengthy documents. All that thinking. All that writing! And no-one was really interested, truth be known. Not the Project Board. Not the project team. And certainly not the wider stakeholders.

So, if the thinking is valuable, what do agile methods have to offer instead?


Unless I've missed it somehow. Nothing.

So, for large projects that warrant it, how do we incorporate this valuable thinking into agile methods? And how do we do it in a way that people will actually pay any attention to?

The answer is simple.

Do it in PowerPoint.

Producing this information in PowerPoint has some profound effects:

  1. It's easier to write. In PowerPoint, the writer is naturally more concise, because of the constraints of the format.

  2. It's easier to read. It's natural in PowerPoint to convey things in a more interesting and digestable form.

  3. And it's easier to share. Invite people to a meeting or presentation, and they'll happily sit through a PowerPoint to understand the goals of a project. The speaker - aided by the slides - brings the information alive. Ask the same people to read a 50 page project initiation document and, surprise surprise, the response is different.

Thinking a project through before kicking it off is valuable.

Being able to communicate this thinking to others is imperative. To get funding; to share the vision with the team; to inform other stakeholders about the goals of the project.

So next time you need to do a more formal project initiation, why not try it in a format that's more appropriate for the purpose?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

five + ten =

There are 101 ways to do anything.
To find the best way, sometimes you need expert help

What People Say

“Kelly was a brilliant CTO and a great support to me in the time we worked together. I owe Kelly a great deal in terms of direction and how to get things done under sometimes difficult circumstances. Thanks Kelly.”


“Kelly is an Agile heavy-weight. He came in to assess my multi-million $ Agile development program which wasn’t delivering the right throughput. He interviewed most of the team and made some key recommendations that, when implemented, showed immediate results. I couldn’t ask for more than that except he’s a really nice guy as well.”


“Kelly’s a leading program director with the ability to take charge from day one and keep strong momentum at both a program and project level driving prioritisation, resourcing and budgeting agendas. Kelly operates with an easy-going style and possesses a strong facilitation skill set. From my 5 months experience working with Kelly, I would recommend Kelly to program manage large scale, complex, cross company change programs both from a business and IT perspective.”


“I worked with Kelly on many projects at IPC and I was always impressed with his approach to all of them, always ensuring the most commercially viable route was taken. He is great at managing relationships and it was always a pleasure working with him.”


“I worked with Kelly whilst at Thoughtworks and found him to be a most inspiring individual, his common-sense approach coupled with a deep understanding of Agile and business makes him an invaluable asset to any organisation. I can't recommend Kelly enough.”


“Kelly is an extremely talented and visionary leader. As such he manages to inspire all around him to achieve their best. He is passionate about agile and has a wealth of experience to bring to bear in this area. If you're 'lucky' he might even tell you all about his agile blog. Above all this, Kelly is great fun to work with. He is always relaxed and never gets stressed - and trust me, he had plenty of opportunity here! If you get the chance to work with Kelly, don't pass it up.”


“Kelly and I worked together on a very large project trying to secure a new Insurer client. Kelly had fantastic commercial awareness as well as his technical expertise. Without him I would never had secured this client so I owe a lot to him. He is also a really great guy!”


“Kelly came to the department and has really made a huge impact on how the department communicates, collaborates and generally gets things done. We were already developing in an agile way, but Kelly has brought us even more into alignment with agile and scrum best practices, being eager to share information and willing to work with us to change our processes rather than dictate how things must be done. He is highly knowledgable about agile development (as his active blog proves) but his blog won't show what a friendly and knowledgeable guy he is. I highly recommend Kelly to anyone looking for a CTO or a seminar on agile/scrum practices - you won't be disappointed!”


“Kelly was a great colleague to work with - highly competent, trustworthy and generally a nice bloke.”


“Kelly was engaged as a Program Director on a complex business and technology transformation program for Suncorp Commercial Insurance. Kelly drew on his key capabilities and depth of experience to bring together disparate parties in a harmonised way, ensuring the initiate and concept phases of the program were understood and well formulated. Excellent outcome in a very short time frame. ”


“Kelly revolutionised the way our digital department operated. A true advocate of agile principles, he quickly improved internal communication within our teams and our internal clients by aligning our business and creating a much enhanced sense of transparency in the decisions the business was making. Kelly also introduced a higher sense of empowerment to the development teams...”



To explore how we can help you, please get in touch