Business Growth & Strategy

Project Execution: Project Startup Checklist

Project Execution- Project Startup Checklist

This article presents a list of items that should be accomplished as you begin work on a new project.

Project Execution- Project Startup Checklist

Introductory Note

Depending on the skill and maturity of your project team, ongoing project management during execution, control, and closeout might require 5 to 10 percent of the labor resources that are consumed by the remainder of the project team as they complete the deliverables.

Project Startup Checklist (Revise and Update as Necessary)

Below is a bullet list of items that are typically important during project startup.  For your particular circumstances and project demands, revise and update this list as necessary.

  • Do not work without a contract, work order, or other signed agreement.

For internal projects, the project sponsor should formally approve the project plan.

  • Complete your internal project setup forms, submit to the accounting department for computer entry using the planned work breakdown structure (WBS) elements.  Verify the computer setup is correct.
  • Establish subcontracts and vendor purchase orders.
  • Begin to obtain any necessary permits, licenses, bonds, insurances, regulatory approvals, deal with out of state issues, etc.  Collect the same from subcontractors and vendors.
  • Conduct kickoff meeting with customer, with project personnel, and subcontractors, or distribute memoranda if a meeting will not be held.  Make initial assignments to the project team including deadlines and hours to spend.
  • Distribute your organizational chart, communication plan, tasks, schedules, status reporting plan.
  • Establish invoicing schedule from vendors and subcontractors.

Arrange for incoming invoices to arrive several days before you will send your invoices to the customer each month.

  • Establish tracking of deliverables, schedule, and the budget being spent (more on this later, under project controls).
  • Establish document control systems (electronic and hardcopy).

Various documents can guide, or be produced by, a project.  You should date, and/or password protect, the guidance      documents (scope, statement of work, project plan), and not allow them to be changed without going through the same   formal process that created them.  You should know who has copies, and if approved changes are made, ensure everyone receives and acknowledges the revised version.  Documents created by a project will first be dated drafts. 

When each first or subsequent draft goes out for review, decide if the several reviewers will pass it forward (in series) or review all at once (in parallel).  Either way, you must provide instructions to the reviewers how to return comments (electronically with edit tracking turned on, hard copy red lines, or in a stand-alone memorandum).  The original authors must reconcile the various comments, which might require 3-way or 4-way conversations.

  • Verify that the technical experts and other resources promised to you are still available.
  • Verify the internal and external project reviewers promised to you are still available and are putting your project on their schedule.
  • Based on all of the above, make yourself a project to-do list.

Unless you have a photographic memory, keeping a detailed list of things to do is very important.  You can use a computer or paper calendar, a day planner, a list created by a word processor or a spreadsheet, post-it® notes, or any combination of these, as long as you maintain a comprehensive list of your action items.  This becomes even more important when you are juggling management of multiple projects with providing technical work on the projects, as well as other company operational duties.

All items should be included:  upcoming phone calls, e-mails, and meetings; hearing back from others related to their action items; legal, procurement, and accounting chores; resolving pending regulatory or technical questions; documents you are responsible for preparing or reviewing; etc.  On a periodic basis (as tasks near completion, or at least once per month), go back and review your contract, scope, statement of work, and project plan for items to add to your to do list.

Update your list of things to do every time an action item is added or completed.  For completed items, record the date of completion.  Following communication events, you often have a new list of action items to perform yourself, or to later verify with another party that action items are being completed.

Category: Business Growth & Strategy


About the Author: Randy Klein

Randy Klein is a project management expert, certified quality manager, and licensed professional engineer with 30 years of consulting and management experience.  Mr. Klein developed a project management seminar for universities in Utah, Wisc…

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