Every project has some management 'boxes' that need to be checked off besides all the design 'boxes' that you usually focus on. These boxes refer to backstage issues like accounting set-up, working out a design budget, getting a signed contract, and so on.
We used to use paper forms to collect the info, and now they are editable PDFs. The whole thing would work better in Basecamp as part of your standard project templates. We will get there.
The main problem with this system is that it is often hard to provide the answers when the answers are needed. So things linger in limbo and are forgotten until they affect the project. The perfect example is time-keeping. You can't log time on the project until it has been "set-up". The original form that collected this info was two pages long and asked for a lot of things that couldn't be identified on day one. So we invented a sub-routine for tracking what was still needed. That may have been worse.
Eventually we ended up with more forms, each asking for a discreet piece of information when it was needed. In the document below, you can see the forms that we use. You can download a PDF of our PROJECT FORMS here. Use the comments if you have any questions.