Phase 1: Initiation - COTS Single Release Project

The Initiation Phase begins when agency management determines that a business process requires enhancement through an agency information technology (IT) project and investment in the application of IT assets.  Enhancements or changes to business processes may be prompted by business process improvement activities, changes in business functions, IT advancements, and/or external sources, such as changes in public law or federal statutes.


1.0: Objectives / Goals
2.0: Deliverables and Approvals
3.0: Roles
4.0: Tasks and Activities
5.0: Conclusions

1.0 Objectives / Goals


Successful completion of the Initiation Phase should comprise:

  • Establishment of project sponsorship
  • Development of the Concept Proposal and Project Charter
  • Identification of the Project Manager
  • Formation of the Planning Team
  • Identification and initial analysis of the business improvement(s)
  • Approval to progress to the Concept Development Phase 


The purpose of the Initiation Phase is to start the project.

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2.0 Deliverables and Approvals

System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) deliverables help State agencies successfully plan, execute, and control agency IT projects by providing a framework to ensure that all aspects of the project are properly and consistently defined, planned, and communicated.  The SDLC document templates provide a clear structure of required content along with boilerplate language agencies may utilize and customize.  State agencies may use formats other than the templates, as long as the deliverables include all required content. 

The development and distribution of SDLC deliverables:

  • Ensure common understanding among Planning Team members and stakeholders,
  • Serve as a reminder of specified plans as projects become increasingly complex,
  • Provide agency senior management and other State officials insight into project risks and ongoing performance,
  • Encourage the execution of repeatable and consistent processes,
  • Facilitate the implementation of project management and agency IT best practices, and
  • Result in a comprehensive record of project performance useful for many purposes (e.g. staff knowledge transfer, budgetary and other assessment activities, lessons learned).

During the development of documentation, the Planning Team should:

  • Write comprehensive, easy to understand documents with no redundant information.
  • Develop an organized document repository for critical project information, so Planning Team members can easily access, store, and reference project documents and other deliverables from all life cycle phases.
  • Implement routine deliverable reviews to correct inaccuracy, incompleteness, and ambiguities.
  • Recognize that sample templates for deliverables are available; agencies might accept deliverables in different formats as long as all required information is present.  The length of deliverables may vary depending on the size, scope, and complexity of the project.  
  • Recycle or reference information from earlier documents where possible and beneficial.


The following is a listing of deliverables required of all projects for this phase of work.  



Developed By

Approved By

Concept Prop​​osal –describes the need or opportunity to improve existing agency business functions using automation and technology.  This document identifies unmet strategic goals or mission performance improvements. ​

  • Investigate and document information about the project request
  • Highlight unmet strategic goals
  • Identify needed agency mission performance improvements
  • Obtain commitment to the project from key stakeholders, principally external stakeholders,
  • Avoid identifying specific vendors or products as solutions

Project Sponsor

Executive Sponsor

Agency Chief Information Officer (CIO)

Project Charter – identifies the Project Manager, Project Sponsor, and Executive Sponsor and authorizes the Project Manager to execute the project.

  • Develop a broad statement of the purpose of the project
  • Delineate clear project objectives
  • Identify the Executive Sponsor, Project Sponsor, and Project Manager

Project Manager

Executive Sponsor

Project Sponsor

Agency CIO

Project Organization Chart (Draft) – a graphical depiction of the project’s hierarchical positions and relationships.

  • Identify key project personnel
  • Define relationships between the team members
  • Identify required roles

Project Manager

Executive Sponsor

Project Sponsor

Agency CIO


All deliverables other than those identified as Updates should initially be developed in this phase.  Deliverables identified as Updates should be revisited and enhanced as necessary as prescribed in this phase.

Deliverables produced during this phase must be reviewed in detail and should follow the approval path as defined in the above table.  A signature page or section should accompany each deliverable requiring approval.

Department of Information Technology (DoIT) will periodically request copies of these documents as part of its oversight responsibilities.

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3.0 Roles

The following personnel participate in the work activities of this phase: 

  • Executive Sponsor
  • Project Sponsor
  • Agency CIO
  • Business Owner
  • Project Manager
  • Project Stakeholders  



Responsible – Describes role that executes the activities to achieve the task. 

Accountable – Describes roles that own the quality of the deliverable and sign off on work that Responsible provides. 

Consulted – Describes roles that provide subject matter expertise.

Informed – Describes roles that receive information about the task.



The Roles and Responsibilities page has detailed descriptions of these roles and their associated responsibilities. 

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4.0 Tasks and Activities




4.1 Review Phase Prerequisites.

Personnel within the agency identify a need for a project.

4.2 Begin Initiation Activities.

The project begins with the following tasks:

  • Investigation of sponsorship options
  • Identification of Initiation Phase participants

4.3 Establish Project Sponsorship.

The Executive Sponsor, Agency CIO, and Business Owner appoint a senior manager to be the Project Sponsor, who will champion the project effort.  The Project Sponsor is the principle authority on matters regarding the expression of business needs, the interpretation of functional requirements language, and the mediation of issues regarding the priority, scope, and domain of the business requirement.  The Project Sponsor must understand what constitutes the project’s scope and be accountable for project success.  For some agencies, the Executive Sponsor may also serve as the Project Sponsor.

Select a Project Sponsor with the following skills:

  • Sufficient domain and managerial experience
  • Interest in the project
  • Capacity to attend to the project
  • Political acumen to assist the team in solving problems and removing roadblocks to progress


The Project Sponsor ensures adequate funding for the project and oversees performance of the Planning and Development Teams. The Project Sponsor participates in managing project activities, principally approving key deliverables, resolving issues and risks, and measuring progress to move forward.

The Project Sponsor must have a clear understanding of the obligations of this role and have the time and resources to ensure proper execution of the project.  If a potential Project Sponsor will be unable to participate actively in the project and ensure the project’s success, that candidate should decline the role, and the Executive Sponsor, Agency CIO, and the Business Owner should appoint a new Project Sponsor.

4.4 Develop the Concept Proposal.

The Project Sponsor develops the Concept Proposal.  The Executive Sponsor and CIO approve its final draft.

4.4.1 Document Description

The Concept Proposal achieves these goals:

  • Investigate and document information about the project request
  • Highlight unmet strategic goals
  • Identify needed agency mission performance improvements
  • Obtain commitment to the project from key stakeholders, principally external stakeholders
  • Avoid identifying specific vendors or products as solutions


First, describe the value and purpose of the project.  Identify why a new or improved business process is necessary and what business benefits the agency hopes to achieve by implementing the improvement.  The Project Sponsor should establish a business scenario and context in which the problem is expressed purely in business terms rather than in technical terms.  Provide background information at a level of detail sufficient to familiarize agency managers with the history, issues, and customer service opportunities that can be realized through improvements to business processes. 

Avoid discussions of specific technology solutions at this point; potential solutions are investigated and documented in later phases.  Also, business case information should not offer or predetermine any specific solution, tool, or product.

4.4.2 Typical Content

The key elements of the Concept Proposal are specified below. Please note that additional descriptions are included when necessary to provide additional clarification regarding content to be specified in the document.  Additional guidance is provided in the SDLC template.

  • Title of Investment – a working name for the project
  • Business Owner and Authorization Signatures
  • Date
  • Description of Proposed Investment – a brief description of the investment proposed (e.g., a software development effort, a modernization of a current system, purchase of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) software, an integration effort, operations and maintenance strategies, etc.), and an initial discussion of requirements needed for ongoing Systems Team operations and maintenance support. Describe the type of project, if it qualifies as a Major IT Development Project (MITDP), and if it is cross cutting.  For additional guidance regarding the definition of these terms, review the IT Project Request (ITPR) guidelines and instructions.
  • Mission Goals – the appropriate agency Managing for Results (MFR) goals
  • Performance Gaps – an evaluation and description of the current state of the agency and the current business and technical performance gaps to be addressed by the project
  • IT Architecture – a high-level description of how the proposed project will impact the existing agency technical environment (e.g., describe how the proposed project is envisioned to be incorporated into the existing agency architecture)
  • IT Strategic Plans – how the proposed project relates to the agency’s strategic IT plans
  • Anticipated Benefits – benefits that will accrue by implementing this project and detailed identification of the stakeholders, internal and external, who will be affected
  • Investment Business Case – how the proposed investment is expected to support agency mission functions, a justification for the proposed investment (e.g., the investment supports simplified or redesigned work processes, reduces costs, or improves effectiveness), the magnitude and importance of the investment in relation to those goals, a discussion of the timing of the investment, and an assessment of whether other governmental agencies or State components are impacted
  • Rough Order of Magnitude Funding Request – a rough order of magnitude estimate for the total acquisition costs and identification of the projected funding source for the investment throughout its life cycle 

4.4.3 Guidance for Document Development

The Concept Proposal should be no more than two to five pages.  The Concept Proposal establishes the justification for the project and the rationale for a funding request.  A persuasive Concept Proposal establishes a strong foundation for the project request as it moves through the funding cycle.

4.4.4 Dos and Don’ts

To meet funding cycle requirements, conduct Initiation Phase tasks and complete the deliverables before or during the summer months to be prepared for Concept Development ITPR tasks, which are due no later than mid-September.

4.5 Identify the Project Manager.

The Project Sponsor chooses the Project Manager, who carries the responsibility and accountability for project execution. Agencies are encouraged to appoint certified Project Management Professionals (PMP) as project managers because PMPs have specific training in project management methods, share a common lexicon, and have competency in the State project management standards.  For small efforts, the agency may assign a new project to a manager within an existing organization with an inherent support structure.  Agencies with limited Project Manager availability should consider developing an early procurement to secure a dedicated Project Manager.  It is critical that this Project Manager be an advocate of the State agency and be completely independent of the future implementation vendor Project Manager.  Maintaining this independence of the Project Manager role will ensure objective project performance reporting.

4.6 Form Planning Team.

With input from the Project Sponsor, the Project Manager designates members of the Planning Team.  For new major projects, hiring and reassignment of many technical and business specialists may be required.  Ideally the Planning Team is maintained as the project working unit at least through the Requirements Analysis Phase.

Although specific needs may vary by project, typical planning teams comprise a Project Manager, Business Analysts, Systems Analysts, Technical Leads, Business Leads, Project Sponsor, Steering Committee, and Project Stakeholders.

Develop a preliminary Planning Team organization chart, illustrating key personnel on the project and identifying relationships between team members.

4.7 Develop Project Charter.

The Project Manager writes the Project Charter with input from the Agency CIO and Project Sponsor.  The Agency CIO, Project Sponsor, and Executive Sponsor authorize the Project Charter’s contents.

4.7.1 Document Description

The Project Charter formally authorizes work to begin on the project, links the project to ongoing work in the agency, and establishes the framework of an agreement between the Project Sponsor requesting the project and the Planning Team proposed to deliver it.

4.7.2 Typical Content

The key elements of a Project Charter are included below. Please note that additional descriptions are included when necessary to provide additional clarification regarding content to be specified in the document.  Additional guidance is provided in the SDLC template.

  • Project purpose and justification
  • Measurable project objectives and related success criteria
  • High-level requirements
  • High-level project description and project characteristics
  • Preliminary risk statement
  • Summary milestone schedule
  • Project governance requirements (i.e., describe how the project will be managed and overseen, what constitutes project success, who decides the project is successful, and who signs off on project progress, changes, and completion)
  • Assigned Project Manager
  • Project Manager scope of responsibilities and formal authorization to carry them out
  • Name and authority (signature) of Project Sponsor

4.7.3 Guidance for Document Development

The Project Charter establishes the baseline for documenting and tracing the achievement of a project’s objectives.  It is important that agencies spend sufficient time on clearly defining measureable objectives and success criteria.  The business requirements must also be defined clearly for requirements development in subsequent phases.

4.7.4 Dos and Don’ts

Ensure that the Project Charter identifies only one Project Sponsor.

4.8 Perform Phase-Closure Activities.

The Project Manager and the Planning Team prepare and present a project status review for the Agency CIO, Project Sponsor, Executive Sponsor, and other stakeholders after completing all Initiation Phase tasks. This review addresses:

  • Status of Initiation Phase activities
  • Planning status for the Concept Development Phase
  • Status on resource availability
  • “Go-No Go” decision made to proceed to next phase, based on Initiation Phase information


The Project Manager must obtain deliverable approval signatures before proceeding to the Concept Development Phase.

Update the project documentation repository upon completion of the phase-closure activities.

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5.0 Conclusions

The completion of the draft organization chart, the approval of the Concept Proposal and Project Charter, the completion of the Initiation project status review, and the approval to proceed to the next phase, signify the end of the Initiation Phase.

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