​​In the Define Phase, you are proposing a project to senior management and stakeholders using a brief written description. 

Your key activities are to:

  • Understand stakeholder interests and expectations
  • Establish a shared high-level understanding of the proposed project and its intended results
  • Seek approval from senior management to move to the Plan Phase.

Typically the deliverable for the Define Phase is the Project Definition Document.

The Project Definition Document is not a Project Plan. It is much shorter, and it is designed to ensure there is enough interest in a project to justify the effort required to write a Project Plan ​, Schedule, and Budget.

A Business Case and Cost Benefit Analysis are produced instead of or in addition to a Project Definition Document when senior management needs a more detailed justification for a project.

Business Cases are often required when projects

  • Need large budgets
  • Need new funding
  • Will have a big impact on the organization, or
  • Will have a big impact on service delivery.

If your Project Definition Document and/or Business Case are approved, you move from the Define Phase to the Plan Phase.

Questions? Check our FAQs for answers.

Key Deliverables​

When you complete deliverables in the Define Phase, you answer the following key questions:

Is this the right project?

What results should it achieve?

How will success be measured?


Key Resources​

These job aids will help you complete project management deliverables in this phase. See the Resources section for other materials that may be useful.