Project authorisation is a formal process that authorises (or gives permission for) work to begin on a project, or a particular part of it. It means that the project (or work package) has approval to start and/or be developed further.
Project authorisation is needed before a project even gets off the ground. Before a project can be initiated, its sponsor must have the necessary authority to propose, fund and commit to it.
The project sponsor is a key stakeholder. Project authorisations may be defined for other stakeholders when their roles and responsibilities on a project are being negotiated.
At the project coal face, project authorisations see project personnel being authorised to start work in accordance with terms agreed during project initiation phase. This authorisation ensures that key personnel have the formal authority to:
- control the flow of work to be undertaken
- commit resources on project activities in accordance with the agreed budget.
Project authorisation impacts on the management of a project in key ways:
- It is a crucial aspect of a projects quality control. It helps to ensure that a project is planned, defined, understood and implemented in accordance with pre-agreed parameters.
- It provides boundaries for what is to be done and expended by whom.
- It sets limits on individuals unilaterally acting outside agreed courses of action, or committing to expenditure beyond the levels planned.
- It helps to protect the Project Manager, the person ultimately responsible and accountable for the management of the project.
Seeking project authorisation
Project authorisation helps to ensure that nothing is done on a project without its being formally planned and budgeted for. It also provides clarity for all involved on who has the authority to do what.
As well, project authorisation helps control the potentially negative influence of influential and powerful stakeholders by specifying the limits of their authority.
The authorisation for a project to proceed is given after key stakeholders approve it to proceed (for a stated budget).
Formalising project authorisation
Project authorisations must be formally advised. The authorising documentbe it a letter of intent, a purchase order, a contract or a form in a work authorisation systemshould also stipulate details such as when the project will start and finish, the expenditure levels authorised, delivery instructions and so on.
Some project authorisations may be specified in a Project Charter:
- A Project Charter is a project initiation document that formally outlines a projects parameters, including its description, client requirements, milestones, stakeholders, constraints and a justifying business case.
Once a project is initiated, project authorisation operates to stipulate the roles and limits of authority of those involved in delivering the project (including stakeholders).
It provides a continuing controlling link between the projects physical management and the ongoing expenditure against the project budget.