Reference and guide to SFIA version 7. Framework status: Development.

#1266 Project Definition (Workshop) PDW: change request deferred

This is the process of defining where we are today (A point), where we wish to be (B point) and the activities to move the organisation from A to B. It sounds corny but it works and provides valuable documentation for future changes, uppgrades or trouble shooting.

Project Definition Workshop (PDW)

A PDW is today a common vehicle for setting up projects and was common fare in IBM in the 1970s and 80s and still exists today but under a different name. It is NOT a project management technique but a way of defining a project as unambiguously as possible. It is usually independent of project management methodology and tools. Projects often fail for lack of rigorous definition and the mistaken view that Project Management does this job. It does not. I you can't define it, you don't understand it.

The purpose of the Project Definition Workshop is to allow an organisation to reach a common understanding of the business requirements and operational parameters for the delivery of an identified project, in this case an HA design and implementation. This information will allow the development of a solution to meet the users' requirements, and to manage the integration of the proposed project approach into the users' business with maximum chance of success and minimum disruption.


A  Project Definition Workshop can be used at several stages of the project. Outputs from the workshop enable the top-level deliverables, assignment to work areas (database, operations, sizing, disaster recovery, software migration etc etc) project acceptance and signoff criteria to be agreed. The key skills and resources are identified and the project pricing expectations are set.

To aid the PDW process, a Project Brief should be prepared which will describe the requirements and environment for the project, and will normally include:

  • Background - where it came from and who it is for and the sponsor
  • Outline Business case and drivers - cost and business impact of downtime
  • Project Definition, explaining what the project needs to achieve, and including:
    • Project Goals
    • Project Scope - setting boundaries to change and technology
    • Outline project deliverables or desired outcomes
    • Critical success factors CSF) - not cost as that is a constraint not a CSF
    • Exclusions, constraints, assumptions and interfaces
    • Success and acceptance criteria - IT and user
    • Risks involved - these are to be addressed in the PDW
    • Project organisation (overall responsibilities only) - detailed roles and responsibilities come out of the PDW actions.

The output of a PDW will be a draft Project Initiation Document (PID), covering many of the same topics, but in more detail and with more certainty.




Download: PDW-Overview.docx (157.5KB)

Attached to Project management