Project Point of Departure

This method allows teams to define the structure, direction and first steps of a project.
It leads to the creation of one or more documents that will be shared between all participants and that can be either “living” docs to be updated during the lifespan of the project or to be left as a clear record of its starting-point.


This activity is based on a further elaboration by JO Education’s staff of a resource curated by the partnership of the Erasmus+ Project FAVILLE. One of the aims of the project FAVILLE was that of developing a digital application containing several resources that could be used both face-to-face and online by groups of people and learners, under the direction of a learning facilitator.


The objectives of this activity are: goal-setting,vproject planning, issue analysis.

Structure of the process:

Bring the project group together and explain that this will be a short workshop with the purpose of creating a clear structure and direction for the project ahead. Nine questions will be discussed as a group and then transferred to a (digital) document to be shared.

Agree as a group how long you have to spend on this. Divide that time equally between the 9 questions: e.g. if you have 90 minutes, you can spend 10 minutes per question.

Write up the following questions. Address each one in turn for the allotted time.

> Purpose: What is the overall purpose of the project? (express this in one sentence)
> Desired Outcome: What specific outcomes should be achieved by the end of the project? (aim for 2-4 bullets)
> Target Group & Value: Who are you doing the project for? And what value does it provide to those people? (aim for 3 bullets or less)
> Roles: Who is involved and what are they responsible for? Here are some suggested roles:
• Lead – leading or owning the project
• Wingman – main support for the lead, on a day-to-day basis
• Core – the main group of people working on the project
• Advisory – people the core team can go to for input and feedback
• Decision – leader or manager with the responsibility to approve the project

> Milestones & Budget: What needs to happen by when? And how much money do you have? (broken down into bullet points, on a broad level)
> How: How will the team work together, how will you communicate, divide tasks, collaborate, approach decision making, etc. (try to define about 5 guidelines with short descriptions for each)
> Success / Fiasco Criteria: What does success look like? What does failure look like? (aim for 4-5 bullet point for each one)
> Connections: What projects are connected to this one? Are there any other documents
or data sources that we need to take into account? (list the connections with hyperlinks
to key documents)
When each question has been answered and documented, decide who will take responsibility to compile all of this into a document to be shared with the team. Before closing the session give the project lead a chance to clarify any points that need clarifying.

Your Approach:

As the facilitator your job is to keep the discussion focused and purposeful. You can take the role of scribe and timekeeper. You might also assign these roles to others in the group.


At the end of the process it might be good to ask everyone if they have clearly in mind what they will have to personally take care of for the realisation of the defined project plan.


Written by: Facilitators of Virtual Learning (FAVILLE)’s partnership, JO Education, Italy