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A Fresh Way to Start Projects

By Cyndi Snyder Dionisio

Do you ever find yourself in a rut when managing your projects? Even though each project is unique, we can get in the habit of initiating and managing projects using the same methods time after time. Take for instance starting up a project. Most of us are accustomed to using a project charter for waterfall projects. We describe the purpose, objectives, success criteria and all the other stuff that goes into a Charter; or maybe while working on Agile projects, you start with a vision statement that documents the product, customer, needs, and key attributes. Those are both great ways to start a project, but there are different options you can consider when trying something new and get a fresh take on documenting the initial information for a project.

Recently I have been using a Project Start-Up Canvas to organize the initial information, and a Project Roadmap to create a high-level visual summary. The Project Start-Up Canvas was developed by Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez and fashioned after a Business Start-Up Canvas. A canvas is a one-page summary of a project that can be tailored to meet the needs of your project.

Read about Antonio’s article on Project Canvas here.

I used the basic concept of a Project Canvas and created a modified version for my Book of Templates found here.

Problem/Opportunity Solution/Scope Value Proposition Customers Costs
Deliverables Resources
Milestones Threats/Constraints

What I like about the canvas is it encourages me to be succinct and present only the most relevant information.

IIL has a new workshop coming out called Mastering Hybrid Approaches for Projects. It’s an advanced level course and one of the things we cover is different ways of working. Learn more about the course outline here.

In addition to the Project Canvas, the workshop includes creating a project roadmap. This is an example of a roadmap from that workshop. You can see that it includes the life cycle phases, key deliverables, management reviews and milestones.

I like using a roadmap because it conveys a lot of information in a way that is easy to analyze and absorb. By looking at the project roadmap, I can get a feel for the flow of work. This helps me organize my thinking for governance, development approach, scope, resources, schedule, and managing stakeholder expectations.

I find that using these two artifacts brings a fresh perspective to starting up my projects. Documenting the problem, solution, and value proposition in the Canvas keeps my focus on delivering value to my customers. The roadmap helps me organize how I will deliver value. So, if you are looking for a fresh way to initiate your projects, think about giving these two options a try.


Cyndi Snyder Dionisio

Cynthia is the Practice Lead for IIL’s Project, Program, and Portfolio Practice. She has over 20 years of experience leading international project teams, consulting, developing courses, and facilitating training. She has received several awards, including the PMI Fellow Award in 2018 and PMI’s Distinguished Contribution Award in 2009. Cynthia is passionate about turning chaos in order, engaging with awesome teams, solving problems, and facilitating achievement.

Want to learn more about Mastering Hybrid Approaches for Projects? Fill out our jot form!

Disclaimer: The ideas, views, and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of International Institute for Learning or any entities they represent.