Phase 1: Ideation and Proposal

Project Initiation Document, Selection for Development and Testing

Building upon the Project Justification Document(s), the project proposal or Project Initiation Document is a request for the Enactus team to devote resources toward the focused development and testing of the proposed project in preparation for full implementation. The document should provide a full report of development to-date and include research and other supporting elements. While every project is different, and projects of greater complexity will often require more documentation, there are several elements which will be required of all project proposals.

Often, it is useful to first map out the project onto a logic model before beginning the full Project Initiation Document. A Logic Model provides a means of viewing the project inputs, outputs, and goals as a series of if-->then statements (i.e. inputs → activities → outputs → outcomes → impact.) If we input certain resources, certain activities can be implemented, or vice-versa, if we wish to engage in certain activities in the project, certain inputs are required. See Figure 1a for an example.

Figure 1a







The need (i.e. high unemployment in Riverside County.

Resources needed to implement the project (Funds, R&D, Team Members, Equipment, Materials)

What we do in the project. Specific tasks. (i.e. skills training, resume workshops, campaign to attract new businesses to Riverside)

Measurable evidence of implementation. The product or result of project activities. (i.e. 500 people trained)

The specific objectives achieved for the target audience (i.e. 500 jobs created and filled, 200% increase in annual income for participants)

2% decrease in county unemployment rates

While the Project Justification Document focuses primarily on the “What?” and “Why?” of the potential project, the Project Initiation Document focuses on the whole picture, adding the “Who, How, and When?” of the project. The following section outlines the common elements of a Project Initiation Document in this manner.

Project Initiation Document[1]

Section 1: What?

This section describes the main objective of the project, what it is intended to achieve. It includes a full situation analysis and clearly defines the project. Generally, this section will include the following:


Discuss the situation, why the proposed project is a viable solution, and highlight the development thus far.

Project Definition

  • Purpose: Why is this project necessary? What is the ultimate impact which can be reasonably achieved?
  • Objectives: What are the specific outcomes that will be achieved and how will you measure them? Remember, outcomes are the direct result of operations and activities in the project. Often, they are shorter-term indicators of movement towards the larger impact goal.
  • Scope: Is this specific project limited to a particular audience, geographic area, type of situations, etc? Be sure to describe exclusions which may normally be assumed included in the project by stakeholders. Be very specific and detailed in your description of the scope of the project.
  • Deliverables: This describes the measurable outputs of the activities in the project, or the product/service that is delivered. Include specific dates on which each deliverable is to be achieved.
  • Constraints: There are always external variables impacting deliverables, which cannot be controlled directly by the project, but can be managed through planning. Describe these.
  • Assumptions: What assumptions are you making at the start of the project in terms of the situation, environment, resources, and implementation?

Section 2: Why?

In the previous section, you identified why the project was needed by the target area/audience, but from a Enactus standpoint, why should we devote time and resources to this particular project? How does it align with the overall vision and objectives of the Enactus team? Here you make the business case as to why your proposed project should be selected by the team over alternatives.

Business Case

  • Benefits: Does this project significantly move the team towards its vision and objectives?
  • Options: Were alternative forms of this project considered during ideation and research? Compare and contrast.
  • Cost and Timescale: Is this project a cost-effective and time-efficient means to accomplish the team vision and objectives? Provide a breakdown of project costs to support this.
  • Cost/Benefit Analysis

Risk Analysis

  • Risk Identification: Identify the risks within the project, and that you'll either need to manage or accept.
  • Risk Prevention: Describe what you are going to do to mitigate or manage risks.
  • Risk Management: Where you can't prevent risks, what are your contingency plans for dealing with them? What actions will you take should the risk materialize?
  • Risk Monitoring: What processes do you have in place to routinely assess the risks associated with your project?

Section 3: Who?

Even a perfect solution to an identified need can completely fail when not properly organized and managed. In any project, particularly long-term ones, creating specific roles within the team allows for increased efficiency and accountability and decreases the issues and confusion arising from duplication of roles. This is both the case for work within teams as well as with external partners.

  • Project Organization Chart/Structure: Create a diagram that shows the lines of authority and reporting for each project team member.
  • Project Manager: Who is the Project Manager, and what are his or her responsibilities?
  • Project Team: Who are the key members of the project team? What are their roles and job descriptions? What are their phone numbers and email addresses? What is their original department or organization? And to whom do they report to on a daily basis?
  • Project Partner (as applicable): Who is/are the project partner(s) and what is/are their role(s) in the project?

Section 4: How and When?

This section describes how the project will be implemented. It will later be used as a guide for implementation in the project. Think of it as your initial plan which could be used to begin immediate implementation of the project if needed. So again, design this section as necessary for a different project manager to still be able to implement the project. You may wish to organize this plan into stages or phases for longer-term projects. This section will commonly include:

  • Inputs: An overview of the resources needed to implement the project (i.e. specific materials, funds, number of team members, etc.).
  • Activities: The specific tasks planned for completion during implementation of the project and milestones/performance indicators for each.
  • Schedule: outline the length of the project, indicating where specific tasks, milestones, outcomes, etc. lie on the schedule.
  • Control: How will progress and performance be measured and communicated? How will quality of deliverables/outputs be measured and improved? Describe specific measurement and strategy tools/methods which will be used in the project.

Section 5: Supporting Documents

As appendices, include any supporting documents or additional information relevant to the development and/or implementation of the project. For example, if you utilized the strategic tools of SWOT Analysis, and Porter’s Five Forces to assess a situation during the initial research phase, include such documentation. If you have a letter from a potential partner expressing interest in supporting the potential project, include it as an appendix. As the Project Justification and Initiation Documents will be build upon into an entire portfolio in the future, any supporting documents or artifacts are valuable.

Selection for Development and Testing

Upon its completion, the Project Initiation Document will be reviewed to determine if Enactus resources will be tasked to support further planning and development of the project in preparation for its potential implementation. As each project is different, funded development and testing may be needed to more accurately complete the information needed in the Project Initiation Document itself. For this reason, projects selected based upon the Project Initiation Document will still undergo this additional development before full implementation. Additionally for this reason, not all Project Initiation Documents can be completed as fully as described in the previous section. This will be taken into consideration during the selection process.

When submitted, the project initiation document will be viewable by all Enactus members for a reasonable period, allowing for feedback on the project and testing on its attractiveness to potential recruits. The document will also be reviewed for potential selection based primarily upon the following criteria:

Upon selection for development and testing of the proposed project, funds will be allocated to support continued progress. A core project team will need to be established if not previously as well as a project partner/sponsor (as applicable). Results of testing and analysis will be used to improve the existing project proposal to provide the most accurate picture of needed resources and potential impact. The project will then enter into implementation.

[1] Based on a set of guidelines on Project Initation Documents at