Skip Top Navigation

Pre-Construction : Initiate and Align

Pre-Construction Construction
Home Tutorial Contacts Glossary Tools & Forms

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 27KB) is used to focus and record the efforts of this phase.


  • Project Summary
  • 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. Region or organization management provides the team with the initial project definition, assigned project phase, legislative milestone commitments and project boundaries (limits).
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 project development, and can result in costly and/or time consuming changes.

top top


  1. Review the PIN from the Project Summary or from the legislative budget. 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 Project Description for use in the initiate and align worksheet (docx 27KB) and project management. This is a formal statement that specifies a high level "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 Project Summary or legislative budget description. In addition, the Project Summary provides the following data to include in the project description:
      • Type of work
      • Functional class
      • New/Reconstruction (yes or no)
      • NHS status
      • Type of roadway
  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 and boundaries to begin the Team Identification - the identification of functional areas for the project team - including specialty groups, consultants, etc. if needed to support the delivery of the project.

  6. Review the project description, boundaries, major milestones (from CPMS), functional areas, specialties and recommended team members with region or organization management.

  7. Enter the project description, boundaries and functional areas and specialty groups on the initiate and align worksheet .(docx 27KB)

top top

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 specialty groups, consultants, 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.

During this phase, the project manager (or team member assigned) begins work with the appropriate specialty groups to develop internal scope of work agreements (pdf 67KB)to define roles and project responsibilities. (Internal Scope of Work agreement template) (docx 37KB)

top top


  1. Assemble the project team. Share the project description, boundaries and major milestones (from (CPMS) with the project team. Note: The Initial Schedule Development process (pdf 93KB) document and map (pdf 35KB) provide additional guidance for team alignment.

  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 "Design and develop a bid package for 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. Review the major Milestones as set up in CPMS. Six of the milestones from CPMS are identified as "major" milestones for the reason that they are "reportable" to our external stakeholders e.g. Legislature, Office of Financial Management (OFM) and the public. The six major milestones, in the sequence the typically occur, are:
    • Project Definition Complete
    • Begin Preliminary Engineering
    • Environmental Documentation Complete
    • Right of Way Certification
    • Advertisement (Ad date)
    • Operationally Complete
    • Not all of these milestones are always applicable to every project, e.g. projects that do not require right of way will not require right of way certification.
      Major milestone definitions are available in the Capital Program Development and Management (CPDM) manual .

      Along with these major milestones, region or organization management and the project team may identify project specific milestones that need to be monitored. These milestones identify specific elements of the Pre-Construction, Right of Way and Construction phases and the dates by which they will be accomplished in order to consider the project or phase successful.

      Additionally, the Deliverable Expectation Matrix identifies and defines several interim milestones to help plan and deliver the project. This matrix was developed to communicate the expectations for a range of project development deliverables and to lay out the general order for a PS&E project.
  5. Work with specialty groups to begin developing an Internal Scope of Work agreement (pdf 67KB) that identifies who will do what work and when the work will be completed. (Internal Scope of Work agreement template) (docx 37KB)

  6. Identify the work that will require the services of consultants or contractors, follow procedures according to the Consultant Service Procedures Manual or Construction Manual , respectively.

  7. Define Roles and Responsibilities, or "who will do what". A "role" is the specific title or position; e.g., team leader, designer, permit coordinator that is assigned the responsibility; "responsibility" is defined as the deliverable expected of the team or individual; e.g., hydraulic analysis, environmental permits, traffic report. 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 or functional areas 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 each project element is assigned to a person or team.

  8. 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.
    • Involve all specialty groups in the identification of critical success factors and measures of success. Capture the associated measures in the internal scope of work agreement (pdf 67 KB).
    • Review the draft list of critical success factors and measures off 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 project team 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 27KB). 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.
  9. 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. Operating guidelines may be combined with the project communication plan. 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


  • Team assembled, Initiate and Align worksheet completed.

top top