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PMP Exam Cram: Project Initiation

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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Terms you'll need to understand:

  • Initiation

  • Project charter

  • Assumptions

  • Constraints

  • Management by Objectives

  • Project charter

Techniques and concepts you'll need to master:

  • The importance of project initiation

  • The purpose and elements of a project charter

  • The proper role to issue the project charter

  • The importance of the project charter to the project manager

  • The timing and importance of the project manager assignment

  • The value of project selection methods

  • The two general types of project-selection methods

  • The sources of expert judgment

  • The Management by Objectives (MBO) process

  • The relationship of project initiation to planning activities

Project initiation is the first project management process to execute in the project lifecycle, and it will be the focus of approximately 8.5% of the exam questions. Although the exam questions regarding the Initiating process tend to be straightforward and involve only 1 of the 39 PMBOK processes (Initiation), many project managers have minimal real-life experience with these activities. And for the project managers with experience in project initiation, the terms and processes they use may not be consistent with PMI's expectations.

To streamline your exam preparations, we will focus on the "gotta-know" concepts and terms that are important to PMI, and the "common" gaps you may need to close to be ready for the exam questions related to project initiation.

The Importance of Project Initiation

Because many project managers have never completed activities in this phase (never completed a project charter, never signed a contract, and so on), let's quickly review why PMI considers project initiation an important process.

Initiation is the first step in the project management process, and it is the first step in the scope-management process. It authorizes (formally) a project to begin and links a project to the work and to the strategic objectives of the organization.

Be sure to understand that the Initiation step can occur more than once in a project. The Initiation process is also performed at the end of each project phase to get authorization to continue the project. A common term for this point is a go/no-go decision.


Per PMI, projects should be aligned with the organization's strategic direction. The project-initiation process at the beginning of each project and at the beginning of each phase helps to ensure this alignment throughout the project lifecycle.

Based on our experience, many professionals associate project initiation with some type of "analysis" effort, such as assessment, feasibility study, or business case development. To PMI, the "analysis" effort is a separate project (with its own project charter) that provides information needed to make a decision about initiating a new project.

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