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Construction : Initiate & Align

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Initiate and Align
Process Map

(pdf 50KB)
Project Description
Team Identification
Team Mission
Roles and Responsibilities
Measures of Success
Operating Guidelines

Initiate and Align is the first phase of the WSDOT project management process. This phase focuses on defining the project and the responsibilities of the project manager and team to deliver the project. The Initiate and Align Worksheet (docx 30KB) is used to focus and record the efforts of this phase.


  • Project Summary
  • Contract Documents
  • Work Order Authorization
  • Capital Program Management System (CPMS)


Initiate the Project

Initiation is the process of defining and authorizing the project or phase, selecting the project manager and identifying the project team.
This step in the project management process is one of the most critical. It makes all members of the project team aware of the basic parameters of the project - the project description, boundaries, funding, and schedule. Poor understanding of any of these elements can mean that the project goes astray during construction, and can result in costly and/or time consuming changes. toptop


  1. Review the description of work and plans contained in the contract documents. Verify the needs, deficiencies, purpose and goals the project is intended to address.
  2. With Region Program Management, review the Capital Program Management System (CPMS) for specific limitations on the project (funding, scope, scheduled milestones, and timing) and its performance.
  3. Develop a Construction Project Description for use in the Initiate and Align Worksheet (docx 30KB) and project management. This is a formal statement that specifies at a high level the "product" or "outcome" the project is intended to produce. It may be as simple as the PIN or Win description, or it may be more detailed, depending on the complexity of the project and the goals of the project manager. It generally includes the following characteristics:
    • It is a statement of the desired condition at the end of the project; hence, it describes an "end result" and should be capable of being seen.
    • It is a "project" objective, not the duty of an individual.
    • It establishes a common goal toward which all project activities and efforts strive.
    • The project description should be consistent with the WIN description(s) from the Project Summary. That is, while the project description for use in the project management plan may provide more detail than the Project Summary, it should not change the scope or intent of the project as stated in the contract documents.
  4. Establish a draft set of Boundaries for review and planning.
    • Validate "boundary" parameters.
    • Identify which parameters are "fixed" and which are "flexible".
    • Determine the acceptable range of variation for those parameters deemed flexible.
    • Anticipate possible changes to boundaries.
  5. Use the project description, boundaries and major milestones (from CPMS) to begin identification of the project team to support the delivery of the project. Recommend the appropriate team members to region or organization management .
  6. Enter the project description, boundaries and functional areas and specialty groups on the Initiate and Align Worksheet (docx 30KB).


Align the Team

Alignment establishes the team's understanding of and commitment to successful project delivery. Alignment builds the team foundation by defining roles, responsibilities and the metrics for measuring performance. This step establishes communication and creates a sense of cooperation and coordination within the project team.

The project team is a designated group of people, including contractors and others who will work together under the direction of the project manager to perform and complete the work of the project.

Once the project description and boundaries are agreed upon with region or organization management, the project manager identifies the specific team members needed to manage and accomplish the work assigned. The team members then work together to further define a team mission or assignment, major project milestones, team roles and responsibilities, operating guidelines, and measures of success.



  1. Assemble the project team. Share the project description, boundaries and major milestones (from (CPMS) with the project team. Note: The Construction Schedule Development process (pdf 40KB) document and map (pdf 30KB) provide additional guidance for initiating the project.
  2. Working as a team, develop and agree upon the Team Mission- the specific work the project team is assigned to perform by the approved Work Order Authorization.

    For example, the project description might be "construct an additional lane in each direction from MPXX to MPYY", the team mission might be "provide oversight and inspect the contractors work during the construction of an additional lane . . . . etc."

    While the project description identifies the end product or outcome, the team mission relates only to specific work deliverables and tasks needed to accomplish the assigned scope of work.
  3. Use the mission statement or scope of work to verify the assembled team has the required technical, administrative and management skills needed to accomplish the work.
  4. Identify project specific Milestones that need to be monitored. These milestones identify specific elements of the construction phase and the dates by which they will be accomplished in order to consider the project or phase successful.
  5. Identify the work to be done by the contractor, following procedures identified in the Construction Manual.
  6. Define Roles and Responsibilities, or "who will do what". A "role" is the specific title or position; e.g., team leader, inspector, permit coordinator that is assigned the responsibility; "responsibility" is defined as the deliverable expected of the team or individual; e.g., managing change issues, schedules, etc. It is important that the roles and responsibilities are mutually understood and agreed to during the initiate and align phase.

    Roles and responsibilities are defined at the WBS level, at a minimum. They may be defined by teams, bid item groups (Summary of Quantities) or to an individual. Based on the needs of the project, the team may develop a project table of organization or Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) (docx 22kb). The RAM associates the project organizational structure to the WBS to ensure oversight or inspection of the contractor activities are assigned to a person or team.
  7. Identify and agree upon Measures of Success for the project. Review the CPMS file, project description, team mission/assignments, major milestones, etc.
    • Identify the goals, deliverables and outcomes (i.e. critical success factors) and the corresponding measures of success; the metrics that indicate the project team progress and performance toward those critical success factors.
    • Review the draft list of critical success factors and measures of success with region or organization management.
    • Define the specific indicators, signals, threshold values, etc., that will be monitored and reported in order to provide timely and accurate visibility of the project team and contractors progress and performance in meeting each of the measures of success.
    • Enter measures of success and any corresponding milestones on the Initiate and Align Worksheet (docx 30KB). Examples include:
    • A general plans review (60%), of major project elements and constructability conformance that requires minimal or minor revisions.
    • An Ad ready PS&E package review process that results in a minimum number of errors, addenda and change orders during the construction phase.
    • Open communication within the project team, with management and stakeholders that produces effective and timely project progress and performance information.
    • Minimal or no environmental compliance violations as a result of clearly defined environmental goals and guidance.
  8. Develop and agree upon team Operating Guidelines. Team operating guidelines describe how the project team will govern itself. They identify the functions most commonly performed by the team and guidelines to steer it within those functions. Examples of team operating guidelines are:
  • Team decision-making process
  • Team meetings (structure, frequency, etc.)
  • Communication (methods, uses, frequency, protocols, etc.)
  • Team performance measures
  • Team issues and conflict management