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Be quick off the blocks—starting projects well

Without starting blocks a world class sprinter becomes average. Without a START document, your project has an average chance of success.

All new ventures begin as an idea. As people work on the project it begins to take on a life of it’s own—decisions are made, short cuts are taken, and eventually the project becomes something very different that how it began.

The below document (that I’m making available for free download) will be a great tool to help you get consensus among all stake on the vision and constraints of a project before planning. If you get it written down you have a much better chance at the project staying on the rails.

A project START document is a tool to help make sure that a project gets the best possible start. A project START document is often called a “project mandate” or a “project manifest”—I prefer to call it a START document because it’s more clear to people who’ve never worked in a project framework.

Download project START document in .pages
Download project START document in .rtf (Word users)
Download project START document in .pdf



To document:

  • The vision of the project
  • The key stakeholders
  • Any constraints—in terms of time, scope, or budget
  • Important information that will effect the outcome

USES OF A PROJECT Start Document

  • As an authorization document – using a comparable format allows multiple projects to be ranked and given priority.
  • As a sales document for the project – a 1-2 page summary of the project to distribute and present the project to make people aware of the project and get buy in..
  • As a focus point throughout the project
  • As the tool to defend against scope creep. Changes to the scope require a reevaluation of the timeline and budget.

Title—Project Start

Monday, December 5, 2011

Project Initiator(s):
Project Sponsor: Leave blank until someone with decision making authority sponsors.

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Project overview


  • What is the elevator pitch for the project?


  • What change will be made by the project?


  • What are the limiting factors on this project—generally in terms of time, quality, or budget?


  • What are the expected income and expenses for the project?


  • What will a win look like?


  • What are the assumptions that you have?


  • What work will need to be done to deliver the outcome?

Milestones & Known Timeline

  • If there are hard deadlines on this project, when will the major deliverables need to be done?

Impact statement

  • How will the project effect the rest of the organization in terms of ongoing cost and added operations?

Roles and responsibilities

  • Who will be responsible for what?
Download project START document in .pages
Download project START document in .rtf (Word users)
Download project START document in .pdf

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