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The Six Phases Of Project Management – Definition Phase (#3 in the Hut Project Management Handbook)
By Wouter Baars

After the project plan (which was developed in the initiation phase) has been approved, the project enters the second phase: the definition phase. In this phase, the requirements that are associated with a project result are specified as clearly as possible. This involves identifying the expectations that all of the involved parties have with regard to the project result. How many files are to be archived? Should the metadata conform to the Data Documentation Initiative format, or will the Dublin Core (DC) format suffice? May files be deposited in their original format, or will only those that conform to the ‘Preferred Standards’ be accepted? Must the depositor of a dataset ensure that it has been processed adequately in the archive, or is this the responsibility of the archivist? Which guarantees will be made on the results of the project? The list of questions goes on and on.

It is important to identify the requirements as early in the process as possible. Wijnen (2004) distinguishes several categories of project requirements that can serve as a memory aid:

  • Preconditions
  • Functional requirements
  • Operational requirements
  • Design limitations

Preconditions form the context within which the project must be conducted. Examples include legislation, working-condition regulations and approval requirements. These requirements cannot be influenced from within the project. Functional requirements are requirements that have to do with the quality of the project result (e.g. how energy-efficient must an automobile be or how many rooms must a new building have?). Operational requirements involve the use of the project result. For example, after a software project has been realised, the number of malfunctions that occur must be reduced by ninety per cent. Finally, design limitations are requirements that involve the actual realisation of the project. For example, the project cannot involve the use of toxic materials or international partners for whom it is unclear whether they use child labour.

Next in the Hut Project Management Handbook:

The Six Phases Of Project Management – Definition Phase – The Importance of Involving Users

Previously in the Hut Project Management Handbook:

The Six Phases Of Project Management – Initiation Phase

Wouter Baars has a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Science. He has been a project manager for several years for The European commission, Waag Society, KPN (Dutch telecom provider) and many smaller organizations. He is specialized in creative projects such as serious game development, e-learning and software development. Currently he is teaching project management and coaching organizations that are working on their project management. More info on his work:

Originally published by DANS – Data Archiving and Networked Services – The Hague

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