Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Executing Projects/Project origination

Project Origination

Project Origination is the first stage of project life. In development cooperation, usually, the project originates with an intention to respond to a call for proposals published by a donor. However, it is good practise for a projectised organisation to define projects and synergies within the organisational programme before calls for proposals are published. In fact, this is because the time gap between the call and the submission deadline is usually not sufficient to prepare a good project (See programme mamagement). In fact, good ideas do not originate in a vacuum but require an organizational culture that encourages it. Good projects are well-articulated responses, addressing the needs documented by learning from previous projects.

If a project is ready and calls for proposals is regularly monitored, then the opportunity is seized and the project can be presented after minor and fast readjustments in line with terms of reference of the call for proposals.

In the project origination phase, we first write the project Scoping document. The Project Scoping document includes the context; identification of beneficiary needs vis-vis the problem tree; project objectives defined along outcomes, outputs and activities; identification of key stakeholders, especially the implementing organisation and partners; activity costs.

The final deliverable produced in the Project origination stage (and opening the initiation stage) is the decision document which includes:

  • a sign off on the project scoping document
  • the partnership structure; selection of lead partner, description of partner experiences and responsibilities
  • persons responsible to develop further the scoping document until it becomes a project document and to design and implement successive phases of the project (project initiation and detailed planning)

Further, decision-makers sign off all documents prepared in the origination phase, partner declarations and mandates and all other support documents required by donors.

Generally the initial project scoping document includes:

  1. identification of the problem/s and of the factors causing suffering or injustice
  2. identification of the objectives, i.e. the solutions to the problem identified after you;
  3. identification of the principal stakeholders.

While identifying the problems and the solutions in international development cooperation is advisable to use the tool called the problem tree and the objective tree. The problem tree moves top downwards, identifying first the major problem, then the factors that determine these problems and then the causes of these factors. The objective tree moves bottom upwards, first identifying the outputs that would directly address the causes of the factors and then identifying the specific objectives that directly address the causes of these factors.)
During the process of identify the right solutions different ideas will be proposed and then decision will be made on which one to chose. It is always a good idea to keep a record of the different solutions proposed by project teams and stakeholders (even those which will not probably be included in the final project) while in the project business case, only the selected ones are reported.

The deliverable that terminates project origination stage (and opens the initiation stage) is the project decision document by the programme managers to assign organizational resources for developing further the project and move to the following phases of project initiation and detailed planning).

Tools for Project OriginationEdit

Swiss sknife.png The problem tree
Swiss sknife.png The objective tree
Swiss sknife.png Template for Project business case
Swiss sknife.png Template for List of all proposed solutions
Swiss sknife.png Checklist for approval of Project Business Case
Swiss sknife.png Template for Decision on allocating organizational resources for developing a project plan


B.Hoeper - Project planning for the Millennium Village Project