The project manager immediately attempted to acquire an understanding of the project. This understanding helped to not only appreciate the scope and scale of the project, but also the potential major stakeholders and their relationships. One of the first steps, therefore, was to sit with the senior executive sponsor and try to obtain an understanding of the expectations for the project from the executive council and acquire some preliminary assumptions, facts, and data. Using that information, the project manager took a cut at the initial stakeholders from each business unit on who would participate on the team.
The project manager also conducted an inventory of information about the circumstances surrounding the project. Some areas of interest included major stakeholders and their relationships with each business unit as well as assumptions, facts, and data about the current policies and procedures infrastructure. In addition, the political considerations were reviewed to identify what each stakeholder had to lose or gain from the change and understand why. This information enabled the project manager to anticipate obstacles and objections to change and prepare appropriate responses to justify the project.
Another important piece of information for understanding the project was to distinguish between what was significant and what was insignificant. The project manager was then able to focus energies on the key issues and concerns, thereby avoiding a "shot gun" approach when getting started. This was accomplished by interviewing people associated with the project, e.g., subject matter experts and other executives, as well as reviewing the history of what existed on similar projects that previously failed.
An interesting note was that two similar projects were conducted in the past. They failed to make significant progress, thus creating a need for this project. The project manager investigated the reasons for the failure to learn the lessons and avoid the same pitfalls.
The project manager understood that the gestation phase of the project was going to be the most difficult and soon realized and expected that the team members of each of the business units could potentially see the project as a threat to their autonomy both on a short- and long- term basis. The key, therefore, was to get the right stakeholders involved in formulating the vision and plan for the project.