In my opinion, in order to get the project off on the right foot, these three things need to happen:
Get a business analyst assigned early. Getting a resource such as a business analyst assigned to the project as early as possible – preferably the moment you are handed the project – can help take a load of work off the project manager. Early project engagement work is all about understanding the customer’s needs, requirements and business processes and these are all things that are well within the business analyst’s area of expertise. The business analyst is often the expert at working closely with the project sponsor or the customer subject matter experts (SMEs) to extract critical business requirements and the business processes that will be affected by the proposed project. It’s important to involve this resource as early as possible so the true path of the project can be laid out…and if there are changes to the perceived customer need and the real customer need, now is the time to document those and start introducing any necessary scope changes/change orders. It will be easier to do that right out of the gate then at mid-project when re-work and timeframe overruns will be necessary.