1.0 Initiation Phase

This is the start of project delivery process. The goal of this phase is to define the project at a broad level and confirm what the project should accomplish. This phase begins with a client need and ends with client approval to proceed with the Design Phase of the project. 

Programming will first create a project file and enter the project into the project management system (MP2, PIMS, CPPM). Once the project is in the system, the project management office will review the client’s project request and assign a project manager to the project. Programming will add the project manager to the project in the system as well. 

Next, the project manager will review the client’s project request and create a business case and document that business case in a Preliminary Project Report (PPR). The PPR provides the strategic and financial information required for the County to determine whether to proceed with the project.  

The project manager will prepare the project charter, which includes the initial project scope, schedule, budget, and risk matrix. 

Finally, the project manager will present their findings and recommendations to the client to help them decide whether or not to continue with the project. Once the client approves the project to proceed, the project manager will use the documents they prepared to start the Design Phase.

The client/fund authorizer submits a Project Initiation Request (PIR) form to the Programming office. The PIR form contains basic information from the client about the proposed project scope/need, estimated cost that is needed to process the request, and budget coding. 

Programming will enter the project basic information into the project management system (MP2/PIMS/CPPM) and obtain the project job number and P-Unit. 


PIR Form

PIMS Initiation Workflow 


Programming will confer with section manager of Project Management to find out who the project will be assigned to. Programming will then add the project manager to the project in the project management system (MP2/PIMS/CPPM). The project manager can now begin preparing the business case.  

The project manager must prepare a business case to confirm the project need and purpose. The project manager should meet with the client to discuss their needs in order to develop the business case. The project manager should meet with the client on-site, if possible. The project manager should record attendance and meeting minutes for the project file.  

Note that for some projects, such as roads and bikeways, the client may include the public and will require community outreach.  

The business case should identify the project benefits, business requirements, costs, and risks. The business case will be used as a primary input for the project charter/scope statement and will be the benchmark to compare against actual results, costs, and benefits in order to assess the ultimate success of the project. 

The business case will be memorialized in a Preliminary Project Report (PPR). The PPR covers all of the basic project information including justification, scope, schedule, budget, and funding sources. A PPR can be large or small, depending on the project. A PPR for a small project may only be a few pages long, whereas a larger project may include many preliminary studies.  


PPR Outline

• Executive Summary
• Need and Purpose
• Existing Facility Conditions/Deficiencies
• Proposed Project (Scope)
• Engineering (Preliminary Studies)
• Project Ownership and Maintenance
• Permits and Agreements
• Community Engagement and Project Support
• Funding and Budgetary Cost Estimates
• Preliminary Project Schedule
• Stakeholder Contacts
• Budget Details
• Preliminary Construction Cost Estimate
• Peer Review Matrix


Preliminary Studies

The PPR should utilize all information available from the client. For some projects, preliminary studies or preliminary engineering may be needed in order to reduce the number of unknowns and develop a more realistic scope, schedule, and budget. 

Examples of typical preliminary studies include: 

Preliminary Materials Lab/Geotech Request 
  • Gather existing soils data and reports from Materials Lab archives  

  • Request an initial geotechnical study for foundation recommendations, etc. 

Preliminary Hydrology and Hydraulics 
  • Gather existing hydrologic and hydraulic data from Flood Programs 

  • Determine if additional studies are required 

Preliminary Environmental Consultation 
  • Determine level of environmental documentation needed for project (Categorically Exempt, Mitigated Negative Declaration, Environmental Impact Report, or other) 

  • Determine if NEPA is required 

  • Determine if regulatory permits are anticipated to be needed from agencies like the Reginal Water Quality Control Board, Army Corps of Engineers, Department of Fish & Wildlife, Coastal Commission, etc. 

  • Determine if mitigation is anticipated and explore options 

Preliminary Water Quality Consultation 
  • Determine if a Water Quality Management Plan (WQMP) is needed  

  • Identify potential structural water quality Best Management Practices (BMPs)  

  • Determine if a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) is needed and what Risk Level is anticipated 

1st Utility Notice 
  • Identify all utilities within the project area 

  • Request existing utility maps and utility atlas sheets 

Preliminary Traffic Considerations
  • Gather existing traffic studies, collision reports, and other related information from Traffic Engineering 

  • Determine if there are open traffic investigations within the project area that can resolved as part of the project 

Preliminary Survey Request 
  • Gather existing survey data from OC Survey archives  

  • Conduct a preliminary right-of-way investigation 

  • Confirm existing right-of-way boundaries  

  • Determine if permanent or temporary right-of-way needs to be acquired 

  • Estimate high-level costs for of right-of-way acquisition 

Preliminary Grant Funding Consultation 
  • Determine if there are opportunities for grant funding for the project and what the requirements are 

In some cases, these studies can be completed using in-house resources. However, if in-house resources are not available, the project manager will need to procure Architect-Engineer (A-E) consultants to help. 


Financial Planning 

As part of the PPR, the project manager must prepare a financial plan for their project. For small projects, this may be a simple breakdown of estimated costs for each phase by fiscal year. Larger projects may require a Strategic Financial Plan (SFP), prepared by the client with support from the project manager, and to be approved by the Board of Supervisors as part of the annual budget process. 


Finalizing the PPR 

The draft PPR should be routed to the client and all other affected stakeholders for peer review and comment. Once comments are received, they should be logged in a peer review matrix with a disposition noting if the comment was addressed or not (and why). 

The project manager should then route the final draft PPR to their supervisor, and then to the section manager for review and signature. The PPR is considered finalized at this point, although the project charter form (also part of the PPR template) has not yet been signed. 


Materials Lab Request Form 
Hydrology Request Form 
Environmental Request Form 
WQMP Checklist 
Utilities Unit Request Form 
Survey Request Form
PPR Template 


The project manager shall now obtain client signature approval of the project charter form. If the client is OCPW, the client signature approval would be the Deputy Director. 


Project Charter 

Per the PMBOK, a project charter as a document issued by the project initiator or sponsor that formally authorizes the existence of a project and provides the project manager with the authority to apply organizational resources to project activities. 

The project charter form is included in the PPR template.  


Initial Schedule and Budget 

Note that if the findings in the PPR indicate the project may take longer to complete than initially anticipated, the project may need to be reprogrammed to a later fiscal year than initially planned. This will require a budget change request to be processed. 

Additionally, if the estimated project budget determined in the PPR varies from the initial project budget identified by the client in the PIR form, then the project manager should submit a budget change request.