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Project Inception

Upon a signed Statement of Work, the project manager should begin to prepare the project for communication, information intake and execution. This process is essential to ensure we’re laying the foundation for a successful project. The following checklist entails the following:

  • Pre-Setup
  • Internal Kick-off
  • External Kick-off Agenda
  • External Kick-off
  • Next Steps
  • Defining Milestones


The project manager/product owner should go through the following customer onboarding trello board: https://goo.gl/1grdX8

Introduction of People and Agenda

  • Start with a quick go-around of everyone’s name / role / department / etc.
  • Discuss the agenda items, pointing out when the breaks take place.
  • Remind participants to not use electronic devices (laptops, phones, etc.) in order to have everyone engaged with few distractions.
  • Create a space for terms (acronyms and vocabulary that may not be understood evenly among participants) and another for parking lot items (topics to be discussed later without interrupting the meeting’s flow). Large pieces of paper from an easel pad work well – stuck on a wall somewhere visible.
  • Ask if everyone is clear with the agenda and rules (ie. get buy-in).

High-level Project Concept

This is an opportunity for us to introduce the project concept. High level business need and challenges are discussed. Current way of operating is discussed as well. This portion can be lead by the business development lead or the project manager.


Goals get logged – typically on a large, tear-away (easel pad) paper that can stick to a wall for quick reference. Goals fall into four categories (with examples):

  • Business goals
  • Product/project goals
  • Engagement goals (for facilitator)
  • Non-goals (things we explicitly do not want included in the scope)

It’s important to keep all goals SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant & time-bound). Identifying goals by time (eg. month or quarter) or sequence is useful.

Next Steps

  • Review any Parking Lot items to see if anything has been missed (stories, etc.) and potentially schedule out additional meetings to cover edge cases, dependencies, etc.
  • Capture actions with committed people and due dates is a critical part of the process. At a minimum, someone will be tasked with capturing the information on the inceptions artifacts (cards and papers) and enter them into your preferred project-tracking software system and other documents.
  • Have a retrospective. A retrospective of the inception is helpful to continually improve the process. Have an open and honest dialogue and give constructive feedback to the facilitators so they can sharpen their skills.
  • Build a Google spreadsheet with all project and client team members' names, roles, and contact info (email, phone) – share this spreadsheet with everyone.
  • Create a mailing list that forwards email to all members of the project team. Client's can just CC this email address ensuring that communications are never lost.
  • Create a shared calendar and add important project dates and team outages.
  • Develop Milestones

Develop Milestones

Using a google sheet and the SOW , the project manager will create a schedule of deliverables which will consist of internal and external delivery dates for items and milestones critical to the success of the project. Items included in the milestones may include, for example:

  • Deliverables
  • Feedback
  • Assets
  • Content
  • Sign-off
  • Final Review
  • Launch

This is one of the most important relics of the project management process. It should be agreed upon by all stakeholders and adjusted frequently. Ideally, after every milestone.