Microsoft Solution Framework (MSF) Envisioning Phase Overview

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The envisioning phase of the MSF addresses one of the most fundamental requirements for project success. It represents a kind of unification of the project team behind a common vision. The team must have a clear vision of what it wants to accomplish for the customer and be able to state it in terms that will motivate the entire team and the customer.


Envisioning is always a high-level view of the project’s goals and constraints. It is a form of an early planning. The primary activities in this phase are:


  • Formation of the core team and
  • Preparation and delivery of a vision/scope, Risk and Project structure documents. 

The delineation of the project vision and the identification of the project scope are distinct activities.


Vision is an unbounded view of what a solution may be.


Scope identifies the part(s) of the vision which can be accomplished within the project constraints.


Risk management is a recurring process that continues throughout the project. During the envisioning phase, the team prepares a risk document and presents the top risks along with the vision/scope document.


The primary team role driving the envisioning phase is the product management role.

Major Milestone

The vision/scope approved milestone culminates the envisioning phase. At this point, the project team and the customer have agreed on the overall direction for the project, as well as which features the solution will and will not include, and a general timetable for delivery.


Suggested Interim Milestones


Core Team Organized

This is the point at which key team members have been assigned to the project.

Typically, the full team is not assembled yet. The initial team may often be playing multiple roles until all members are in place.


The project structure document (delivery in this phase) includes information on how the team is organized and who plays which roles and has specific responsibilities. The project structure document also clarifies the chain of accountability to the customer and designated points of contact that the project team has with the customer. These can vary depending on the circumstances of the project.


Vision/Scope Drafted

At this interim milestone, the first draft of the vision/scope document has been completed and is circulated among the team, customer, and stakeholders for review.

During the review cycle, the document undergoes iterations of feedback, discussion, and change.


The deliverables for the envisioning phase are:


  • Vision/scope document.
  • Risk assessment document.
  • Project structure document.

Team Focus

The following topic describes the focus and responsibility areas of each team role during the envisioning phase.


Product Management

Overall goals; identify customer needs, requirements; vision/scope document


Program Management

Design goals Solution concept; project structure



Prototypes; development and technology options; feasibility analysis


User Experience

User performance needs and implications



Testing strategies; testing acceptance criteria; implications


Release Management

Deployment implications; operations management and supportability; operational acceptance criteria


Posted May 06 2006, 01:06 AM by Damir Dobric is a .Net Community Blog powered by daenet GmbH.