3 Keys to Getting Your Project Off the Ground

Technology enables us to do many of the things we enjoy doing, and technology helps agencies reach their most important mission objectives. Across GovLoop we have dozens of tips and tricks for IT professionals to help launch their projects. Some are more technical than others, but there are always some common trends that I pick up on.

With any project, if it is IT or any other kind of initiative, there are three core skills the project leader needs to have. The three keys are simplify the project, communicate efficiently, and make your business case. Without doing these three things, leaders will be challenged to move their project from a cool idea to implementation.

Simply The Project – Keep Scope

This is always a challenge. A lot of times when we get invested into a project we learn the nitty gritty, soaking in everything we can possibly learn about the project. While being detailed oriented as a project leader is important, it is not always that important to advance your project.

When talking to people not as deeply invested as you may be, it is important to simplify your project and concisely describe your idea in basic terms. In the past I’ve written down my entire project and forced myself to break it down to fit on an index card. That process in itself is great, it forces you to think about the most critical parts of the project and what people need to know. You can always provide more information, and if people start asking questions it’s a good sign. It is critical to be able to concisely say what the scope of the project is, what you are trying to accomplish, and how you are going to get there.


Communication skills are critical to any kind of project advancement. Some things to avoid are setting yourself up for failure, not meeting deadlines, and being sure you can deliver on key dates. In order to build support, you’ll need to clearly communicate your needs, roadblocks, and bring up any red flags you might spot along the way. Again, the project and the idea might be incredible, but you’ll have to do some work to communicate clearly to your team and identify your needs to your colleagues.

Business Case

Successful programs have a clearly defined business case. To build support, projects need to clearly map to organizational goals. This will be critical to the success of a program. Building your business case is foundational to any project. The ability to map your departments initiative across the agency is critical.

The key lesson is that having a great idea is only one small part to having success with your program. Many programs/organizations go through several iterations of a great idea, but successful programs and ideas are clearly defined, clearly communicated and have a direct business value.

What else is important to move your idea from development to implementation?

Oracle offers an optimized and fully integrated stack of business hardware and software systems that helps organizations overcome complexity and unleash innovation.. Check out their Optimize with Oracle group on GovLoop as well as the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.

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Chris Cairns

In my experience, one of the biggest challenges in getting a project off the ground is “not-invented-here” syndrome. These people will kill your project unless you engage them effectively. Sometimes go as far as to perform inception on them — get them to think the project is their idea. In most cases, however, a good business case that communicates how it will make their lives easier helps.

Josh Nankivel

After the business case and buy-in from the sponsor and key stakeholders at the outset, I think a project charter is key. I see a surprising number of projects without a clear sponsor (that’s exactly 1 sponsor, not several), a commitment of funding, etc. The charter is the document that puts all of this due diligence down on paper and gets commitments from the necessary people. When they sign off on the charter, it’s commitment from the sponsor and enables the project to get started on the right foot.