Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Executing Projects/Project origination

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Project Origination

Project Origination is the first stage of project life. It takes place when for the first time someone expresses the need and the basic scope for the project. The idea is shared with colleagues and partners until the organization decision makers decide to move ahead with the idea and entrust someone with the task to better define it.

Good ideas do not originate in a vacuum, but require an organizational culture that encourage it. In best scenario new projects are conceived within a wider program and are responses to the needs documented by the knowledge collected in previous projects. We can say that project is an action implementing a section of a programme; the need for that kind of activities is defined in the programme and when a concrete opportunity to respond to that need arises then the project originates and the opportunity is seized.

The deliverable that terminates Project origination stage (and opens the initiation stage stage) is the Project decision document that formalize the program managers decision to assign organizational resources for developing further the basic idea and move to the following phases of project initiation and detailed planning).

Terminology changes according to the professional sectors and the geographic areas. But in a general sense we can name three major steps in the origination phase :

  • Develop an initial concept , where the initial case for the project is made and initial project parameters are defined;
  • Evaluate the original idea, and decide whether to assign organizational resources for preparing a more detailed and elaborated project proposal to be recommended to those who can allocate financial resources for it,
  • Select a project designer and assign to her/him with the responsibility to lead the successive stages of project initiation and detailed planning).

Generally the initial concept paper includes:

  1. the identification of the problem/s and of the factors causing suffering or injustice
  2. the identification of the objectives , i.e. . the solutions to the problem identified after you;
  3. The identification of the principal stakeholders.

While identifying the problems and the solutions in international development cooperation is advisable to use the tool called the problem tree and the objective tree. The problem tree moves top downwards, identifying first the major problem, then the factors that determine these problems and then the causes of these factors. The objective tree moves bottom upwards, first identifying the outputs that would directly address the causes of the factors and then identifying the specific objectives that directly address the causes of these factors.)
During the process of identify the right solutions different ideas will be proposed and then decision will be made on which one to chose. It is always a good idea to to keep a record of the different solutions proposed by project teams and stakeholders (even those which will not probably be included in the final project) while in the project business case, only the selected ones are reported.

The deliverable that terminates project origination stage (and opens the initiation stage) is the project decision document by the programme managers to assign organizational resources for developing further the project and move to the following phases of project initiation and detailed planning).

Tools for Project Origination[edit]

Swiss sknife.png The problem tree
Swiss sknife.png The objective tree
Swiss sknife.png Template for Project business case
Swiss sknife.png Template for List of all proposed solutions
Swiss sknife.png Checklist for approval of Project Business Case
Swiss sknife.png Template for Decision on allocating organizational resources for developing a project plan