Preparatory phase of a project

December 2016

The preparatory phase

The term preliminary project is generally used to refer to all preparatory stages necessary for the launch of the project. Thus, the idea is to precisely define the nature of the project in order to finalize the contractual documents (preparing for a contract), allowing for a commitment of the contractor and the client to the project launch. In this phase, the decision to begin the project is formalized.

  • Opportunity study

    This preliminary stage allows the parties to study the project request and decide whether the concept is viable. The purpose of this first stage is to validate the users' request compared to the general objectives of the organization.

    It consists of defining the scope of the project (also known as context), in particular to determine the end users, i.e., those for whom the work is intended (referred to as targeting or profiling). Thus, at this stage of the project,it is useful to fit the users into the global considerations.

    During the opportunity phase, the general needs of the client must be identified. It is necessary to make sure that these needs correspoond to expectations of all target users and that they take into account the probable developments in needs.

    The opportunity study leads to the drafting of a document called the "scoping note", validated by the Steering Committee of the project (if applicable, the decisionmaking bodies, depending on the goal of the project). Therefore, the scoping note is the deliverable of the opportunity study, which formalizes the intent of the project.

    Once the idea of the project is formalized, the Steering Committee must formalize the assignment of the project manager and determine the terms and conditions. The assignment (assignment note) is the document that formalizes the assignment of the project manager.

  • Feasibility study

    The feasibility study seeks to analyze the economic, organizational, and technical feasibility of the project.

    • Need analysis: starting with the summary analysis of needs, it is useful to make a gross estimate of the investment and operational cost of the project (in terms of human and material resources), the time frames envisaged, and any return on investment. Based on these estimates, the Steering Committee can determine whether to continue the project, and, if so, provide for a methodological organization for it.
    • Case studies: the feasibility study leads to imagining various scenarios ("use cases"). Each case allows for the evaluation of the risks of the project and should be accompanied by a preliminary statement of the costs and benefits of the scneario. This stage includes a deliverable, the feasibility file, submitted to the Steering Committee to ensure that each scneario is studied.

  • Detailed study

    The need analysis carried out in the pre-project phase only bears on the major processes of the project. It is necessary to do a more in-depth study of the needs so that the client and contractor can reach an agreement on a contractual document; this is the preliminary study, also known as the "general design". During the preliminary study,it is essential to make sure that the needs are expressed in purely functional terms rather than in terms of solutions. The functional needs analysis thus allows the mparties to bring out the necessary functionalities of the work.

    The functional analysis leads to the finalization of a document functionally defining the need (independently of any technical solution). THis document is called the functional specifications, also known as design document. The Specifications allow the client to express its needs in functional terms, and to clarify the restrictions on the contractor. Thus, the functional specifications constitute a contractual document between the contractor and the client.

  • Technical study

    The technical study is the phase in which the design is adapted to the technical architecture used, describing and documenting the functioning of each unit of the software.

    The deliverable of the technical study is the Technical Terms of the Contract (TTC) or detailed specifications.

    The detailed study may be accompanied by the creation of a mock-up, or prototype, that allows the users' representatives to confirm that the solution chosen meets their expectations.

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