Managing a project can be challenging, regardless of its size or complexity. It involves paying attention to small planning details, adapting to changing client expectations and meeting deadlines. Breaking down the project into manageable phases with specific objectives and deliverables can make it easier to maintain quality and manage the project effectively.
If you feel overwhelmed managing projects for your firm, it is recommended to study the fundamental phases of the project life cycle. The PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge) by the Project Management Institute (PMI) identifies five phases of the project management life cycle which are as follows: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure. These phases work together to turn a project idea into a usable product.
In this article, we will get a deeper understanding of the five project management phases so it is easier for you to move forward with your project.
Phase 1: Project Initiation
The project commencement phase is the first step in transforming an intangible notion into a worthwhile objective. You must create a business case and provide a comprehensive project definition. You must first ascertain the project's need and establish a project charter.
The project charter is a crucial document that includes information on the project's limitations, objectives, project manager selection, budget, and anticipated schedule.
Determine the main project stakeholders or the individuals involved after you know the project goals and scope. List the stakeholders' responsibilities, titles, impact, and communication requirements.
Although the project's aim is clearly defined at this phase, a project charter needs to include the technical specifics that need to be worked out during the planning phase.
Phase 2: Project Planning
During the project planning phase, you must develop a detailed plan that outlines how the project should proceed. You must decide on a project structure and timeline, in addition to defining resources such as personnel, hardware, and software.
You'll also need to identify any risks associated with the project during this phase and assess how they may be mitigated.
Creating a work breakdown structure (WBS) is also important at this stage. The WBS describes all tasks required to complete the project so that each element can be easily tracked and managed within specific timelines. It will enable you to monitor progress more effectively by breaking down large projects into smaller tasks and allotting them accordingly.
Technical need identification, project schedule development, communication planning, and goal/deliverable setting are the main responsibilities in this phase. You can set goals in various ways, but the most common are S.M.A.R.T. and C.L.E.A.R.
The "SMART" criteria ensure that your project's objectives are thoroughly examined. It is a tried-and-tested technique that lowers risk and enables project managers to set specific and attainable goals.
The acronym SMART stands for:
• Specific – Define the objectives in a clear, precise manner.
• Measurable – Use measurable goals and milestones to track progress.
• Attainable – Make sure that your objectives are realistic and achievable.
• Relevant – Ensure that the objectives align with the project’s overall mission.
• Time-bound – Set time frames for each goal or milestone to stay on track.
The clear approach is also useful for setting goals within a project management context, as it allows you to assess whether or not they can be met without overreaching.
The acronym CLEAR stands for:
• Collaborative – Ensure that all stakeholders are involved in setting objectives.
• Limited – Set limited, attainable objectives to avoid scope creep.
• Emotional – Ensure personal emotions don’t interfere with meeting goals.
• Appreciable – Create goals that can be accurately measured and tracked.
• Refinable – Allow room for improvement when setting objectives.
Phase 3: Project Execution
In the project execution phase, you'll put all of your planning into action. The team must execute the tasks and activities as outlined in the WBS to ensure that the project is kept on track.
The main responsibilities at this stage are resource management, risk management, quality assurance, and communication management. You should also use a tracking tool or software to monitor progress throughout this stage.
The project manager will be the key point person for ensuring that each task is completed within the given timeline and budget restrictions. They will need to continually assess how well things are going and make adjustments as needed. It is important to note that change often happens during this stage due to external influences like customer feedback or unexpected delays in delivery, so it is important to be flexible and ready to adjust the plan as needed.
Phase 4: Monitoring and Control
During the monitoring and control phase, the team's main objective is to ensure that the project progresses smoothly and remains on track. This involves regularly reviewing the project's progress to detect and address any potential delays or budget overruns. Additionally, the team must evaluate and manage project-related risks, adjusting their plan as needed.
As a project manager, you can develop Critical Success Factors (CSF) and Key Performance Indicators to prevent deviations from the original plan. During the monitoring phase of project management, it is your responsibility to objectively measure the effort and expense incurred throughout the process. This tracking is essential to ensure that the project stays within budget and on track.
Phase 5: Closing Phase
The closing phase is where you wrap up the project and formally transition it to its stakeholders. It's important that any unfinished items or tasks are completed before moving on to the next step. This includes compiling all reports, delivering a final report to the client, and documenting lessons learned from the project for future reference. Additionally, any remaining budget funds must be allocated correctly and as necessary.
You should also develop an implementation plan with your team to ensure that all final deliverables are properly integrated into ongoing operations. Finally, be sure to thank everyone involved in the project for their hard work and dedication throughout this process.
Project management takes a great deal of planning and effort to execute properly. By breaking down the project into five distinct phases, you can ensure that your team is organized and on track throughout the entire process. From setting objectives and creating a WBS to monitoring progress, evaluating risks, and wrapping up the project – each phase is critical to the success of your project. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your project is completed on time and within budget.