The Art of Getting Started: Initiation and Planning

A proven methodology will influence the success of a project. This blog explains the initiation and planning phase and why these first two phases of the Kiefer Delivery Methodology are so important.

Today, I had the opportunity to sit in on a project kickoff meeting. This is not the first time that I’ve I participated in a kickoff, but I focused less on why this is important to the success of the project, and I focused more on why these first two steps are so important for the client.


Doug Robbins (Director of Service Delivery) has made it clear that the initiation phase is not a complicated phase in our service delivery methodology. “This is just the kickoff”, he often says.

“This is just the kickoff”


This is still a very important part of our process. This is the phase where roles are defined, initial barriers may be identified and removed, and the stage is set for the project. This phase is so important to making sure everyone is on the same page and that both the Kiefer team and the client are rowing in the same direction.

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Project Kickoff and Strategy Session

In collaboration with client stakeholders, our team hosts a project kickoff and strategy session to communicate the project vision, approach and team members. In the kickoff meeting, we ensure key stakeholder concepts and critical success factors are captured to serve as guideposts through the course of the project. We have a broad set of tools that we can use to help the client plan for success. One such tool is the Kiefer Project Readiness Assessment, which is downloadable here for free.

Project Management Plan

While our process is proprietary, our team utilizes proven aspects of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) to develop a comprehensive project management plan.  The plan incorporates communication, risk/issue, scope and project schedule management plans into a comprehensive approach to delivering the solution.

Other Plans that are created at this time are:

  • Project Schedule: Provides a detailed view of project tasks, durations and resource allocation, including client team member participation
  • Communication Plan: Defines stakeholder participation, team structure, including client team members and communication methods.  The plan also delineates project status reporting methods, audience and content, such as accomplishments, tasks in progress, issues, contract status hours, and budget expended.

This phase is important to the client for several reasons.

  • Client gains an understanding of who is on their project and how to best work with us
  • Expectations are set and both Kiefer and the client can move to the same goal
  • Commitments are made and success criteria is established


The planning phase is when the Kiefer team begins working closely with project stakeholders to review and refine documents, models, and concepts of the Initiation phase. We perform the high-level analysis of systems and/or applications. As a team, we map Initiation phase requirements to capabilities and the initial project scope. This assessment is called the Fit/Gap Analysis and we use this process to create a project roadmap.

  • Planning is an important part of the process for the following reasons.
  • Client has a “voice” in this part of the process and can help guide delivery
  • Before the work starts, stakeholders and the delivery team have an opportunity to collaborate
  • Expectations are clarified and we can work together to reduce ambiguity
  • The Fit/Gap helps to ensure that the delivery team focuses on only what is in scope

It’s hard to say that one part of our process is more important than the others, but the “getting started” is the hardest part, and we are confident that our approach serves the interests of our clients and results in successful delivery. Proven methodologies are at the core of what we do. No matter how big (or how small) a project may be, we scale our proven approach. We look forward to working with you and working collaboratively to help you accomplish your business goals.


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