A few housekeeping items before starting a project.
Do you create project IDs? It should be unique and never used again, to minimize confusion over projects. Some integrators create the project ID during the pre-sales process to provide a complete picture on total project expenses.
You should also have a consistent method for creating project binders and/or directories. Define what must be included, such as the proposal, specifications, code, diagrams, correspondences, change orders, …. In many cases, integrators will have an administration process to create the binder and directories. This process is also used to check-in/check-out project binders to eliminate the chance that project information is lost.
Take the time to define a standard process for kicking off a project. At a minimum, there should be a formal meeting transferring the opportunity from sales to engineering as a projects. There should be a standard agenda and the list of things that must be accomplished to kick-off the project.
The primary purpose of the meeting should be to reaffirm the scope and the requirements. At this point, you should be focusing on requirements for acceptance rather than the specific methods of implementation.
If at all possible, you should involve the customer in the kick-off meeting. What role and how much involvement do they want in the project? Clarify how much and how often would like updates and information on the project. It is also a good opportunity to review and agree to various milestones for the project. Explain the methods for testing and validating the system according to the requirements. And, establish your change management process – to avoid confusion and misunderstanding later on.
Finally, there should be an official commissioning of the project. Has the work been contractually authorized? Has an invoice been generated for the initial payment? I even know of one manager who generates a Commissioning Notice, to formally recognized the commencement of the project, the project leader, …. Maybe too much formality, but a nice touch?