The project intent is an important project management toolthat involves starting up a project in a controlled way.

An agreed project intent is very importantin order to have a clear focus and direction during all phases in the project.

Defining the project intent

The 'Listening to families' project intent

The content for this project's intent statement was explored in the start-up workshop that took place on the 24 of April 2012. After this event, the Statement of Intent went through a couple of iteration until it was signed off on the 4 of May 2012 by the steering group.

Statement of Intent [PDF 150KB] [PowerPoint 903KB]SIntent for co-designing an integrated service system for familie experiencing vulnerability


The ACT Government recognises that a group of individuals and families in the ACT were experiencing poor outcomes against a range of indicators. These in turn can trigger or maintain cycles of disadvantage. The Listening to Families project focused on improving responses for individuals and families that could not, or chose not to, access the support they required to meet their full range of needs and to mitigate against any adverse outcomes that may result, including:

  • Poor outcomes for one or more individuals, including children, compared with other community members at a local and/or population level
  • Reduced personal well-being and social connectedness
  • Reduced economic participation, leading to a loss of economic activity
  • Risk taking and anti-social behaviours, which impact negatively on themselves or other citizens
  • Prolonged involvement with services without achieving progress resulting, in inefficient and ineffective use of resources
  • Migration to higher cost services and interventions

Driver for change

We are dealing with a service system that grew in a largely reactive manner without considering the user experience. This results in increased service complexity and duplication. As a consequence, families with multiple (breadth) and/or intensive (depth) support needs can experience barriers to accessing the supports they need and want. These are the resulting drivers for change:

  • Political awareness and recognition that a group of individuals/families are experiencing complexity in receiving the support they need and want, resulting in poor service outcomes and ineffective use of public resources
  • The desire to work as 'one government' (Hawke Report) with better collaboration between governmental organisations, community-based work and citizens to create a cohesive service system for all.
  • Reversing service resistance- the service system can becomes an additional risk factor for the families and a barrier rather than a driver of change
  • Reversing the turf war- taking shared responsibility for creating better outcomes for vulnerable families
  • Introducing a co-design approach- there is great interest in co-design approaches, concepts and tools to improve outcomes for citizens and the effectiveness of government service delivery

Defining the project intent

Why is this phase important?

When done well, this phase ensures that the problem is well understood,the drivers are articulated and the outcomes are specified. If the outcomes are wellframed they can be used to track progress throughout the project and for evaluation atthe end. Outcomes are often specified for each of the stakeholder groups.

The intent also describes the broad project hypothesis and the project outline. Itis captured on a single page. However, the value of the intent statement is not theone page, but the shared understanding of the intent of the project.

What is involved?

This phase lies right at the beginning of the co-design project andaims for a shared understanding between all project participants aboutthe project's intent, timeline, steps, outcome and deliverables.

The phase asks and answers the question "What is the design task?". Therefore,you will need to get a clear sense of the intent by getting a 'global view'of the current state and to define the overall desired future state. In theend, you will summarize the information and create a Statement of Intent thatwill be used as yardstick for the next project steps.

How to develop a project intent statement

Because the intent statement defines the direction and approach for the project itshould be developed through a shared conversation involving key stakeholders. It is importantto get the mandate clear from the start and agreed with decision makers. It is also importantto set up a team who will be responsible for the design task, as well as the 'infrastructure' ormechanism by which the project will be managed. This can be done through an intent workshop.

Some key questions that should be asked when developing the project intent statement are: Current state

  • What are the drivers for this project?
  • What is the current situation?
  • What are the systems and services in focus?
  • Who are the citizens in focus?
  • What works?
  • What are the issues and problems?
  • What are the opportunities?

Our approach

  • What is our approach?
  • How will we achieve success?
  • What do we need to consider on our way?

Development plan

  • What are the agreed next steps?
  • Who should be involved?
  • What do we need to consider on our way?

Future State

  • What is the desired outcome?
  • What does success look like?
  • Who has been affected by the change?