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Project Management Explained: The 5 Key Phases.

Projects are complicated and necessitate collaboration across numerous parties, departments, and occasionally even organizations. They frequently fail and become disorganized. Consequently, managing them is challenging.

The entire project management cycle is broken down into five steps or phases to make the process easier. These five project management phases are essentially constant, despite the fact that specifics vary by industry, team, project kind, etc. A perfect project management template covers all the major steps and makes project management easier. 

Now, it’s time to move directly to the conceptual phases.

  • Initiation

The beginning of a project is called the initiating phase. It entails establishing the project’s necessity, confirming its viability, and obtaining clearance for the project’s formal launch.

A senior-level employee of the organization first creates a business case during this phase. They specify the requirements, parameters, characters, goals, and stakeholders for the project they wish to carry out. After that, they run experiments to see if it is both feasible and profitable.

A preliminary budget is created, and the business case is submitted to the senior managers for approval if the feasibility tests are successful.

Usually, the project’s stakeholders and sponsors are these senior managers. They exercise due diligence, consider the business case, and give their approval.

But as of the right moment, most of the procedure is unclear. Say a mobile phone manufacturer wishes to introduce a new function, like a higher-resolution camera. The only thing we know at this early stage is that their clients will value a better camera. Thus, the business will work on it. It’s unclear how, when, and how things will happen.

The senior managers will now assign a project manager, who will handle the rest. The latter then consult the project charter or PID to learn in-depth about the project and the expectations of the stakeholders before starting to work.

  • Planning

In order to accomplish project objectives within the limitations of scope, time, and budget while maintaining quality, they consult with the stakeholders and develop an integrated project plan.

They first decide on the principles, practices, and processes that will be used throughout the project. They then pinpoint the precise deliverables and establish appropriate criteria (the KPIs) to evaluate them. The project managers now specify the work that must be done to complete the deliverables on schedule and within a set spending limit.

The most crucial phase of project planning is now upon us: team building. A project is a brief endeavor that necessitates collaboration across numerous departments and even contract employees. In order to work outside of their usual individual jobs, a brand-new team is created.

For instance, IT experts must cooperate with the teams in charge of marketing, finance, business development, and product development; in our previous example, when the mobile phone company chose to introduce a better camera. The business also needs to work with outside vendors, advertising firms, and other independent freelancers. As a result, the project manager leads a team made up of all the individuals who are actively involved in the project.

By the end of the planning phase, the following must also be completed.

  • It provides a detailed description of the project’s scope. For future reference, the scope statement contains the project’s requirements, goals, advantages, deliverables, and milestones. It may be altered while the project is still in progress, but only with the project manager’s consent.
  • SMART AND CLEAR GOALS: To stay on the right path, it’s important to define and track the appropriate goals. Thus, defining SMART(Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) and CLEAR(Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, Refinable) goals is necessary for projects.

– A more conventional method is to set SMART goals. It guarantees that the objectives are clear to all parties and that they are measurable and attainable.

– CLEAR goal-setting is a relatively recent practice and was created for today’s fast-paced businesses.

  • Work Breakdown Structure (WBS): This method entails segmenting the project’s work into smaller sections and tasks. In other words, it is a breakdown of work focused on deliverables, where each major deliverable is broken down into smaller, more manageable chunks, and work is chosen to accomplish each deliverable.
  • Gantt Chart: This is a thorough visual representation of a project’s timetable that resembles a bar graph. The tasks that need to be done are shown on one side of the Gantt chart, and the deadlines for completing those activities are shown on the other. The vertical axis is used to generate horizontal bars that reflect how long each task took to complete.
  • Communication Strategy: Successful project execution necessitates close coordination between numerous parties and departments. To do this, excellent communication must be ensured. A communication plan is established during the planning stage itself because poor communication is one of the main reasons projects fail.
  • Quality Control Plan: Completing a project within its three restrictions of time, money, and scope is not sufficient. To achieve the desired goals, certain quality requirements must be met by the deliverables. Project managers establish the appropriate metrics to be monitored at each stage to evaluate quality for this reason.
  • Risk management strategy: As a project is carried out, specific hazards may arise. Project managers create a risk management plan before project execution begins to manage unforeseen risks and mitigate foreseen risks, even if many of them cannot be predicted.
  • Change Management Plan: Even though it’s sometimes overlooked, one must prepare to adopt changes with a change management plan. Project stakeholders frequently alter the type and volume of work, which causes delays and scope creep, or the uncontrolled expansion of a project’s scope. Consequently, a change management strategy must be in place. 
  • Execution

A team launch meeting often kicks off the execution phase. Everyone is given a thorough explanation of the project and its contribution to its success here. In addition to assigning responsibilities to the team members, the project manager also secures the necessary resources, including money, contracts, and other resources. After giving everyone a brief explanation of the communication and control mechanisms, the team begins working on the project.

The team members do the duties given to them and make sure the deliverables are given to the appropriate person at the appropriate time. Since failing to do so could affect their performance reviews, they make an effort to meet deadlines and deliver high-quality work. Additionally, they frequently attend meetings set up by the project manager to monitor progress and enforce responsibility.

Throughout the execution phase, numerous status meetings, project reports, and work overload reports are produced to determine whether the project will be successful or not.

Stakeholder satisfaction is another part of the execution phase. The project manager must ensure that the stakeholders are happy by keeping them informed. If not, the team may need to modify some project components in accordance with the change management plan.

  • Supervision

Projects must be monitored, and controls must be used where necessary because they are frequently complex and difficult to ensure their efficient completion. The project managers, who are already collaborating closely with the team, are responsible for this task.

To track progress and ensure that everyone is working effectively, they coordinate with the team members, hold meetings, and check in with them. They guarantee productivity and ensure that unforeseen events don’t divert the team or cause the project to be delayed. They regularly track metrics to maintain the quality of their job. Additionally, they keep track of expenses and work to complete everything within the budget’s limits.

Utilizing project management bug-tracking tools streamlines the monitoring and control process for complex projects. Project managers collaborate closely with the team, leveraging the software to track progress, coordinate tasks, and identify and resolve bugs efficiently. By utilizing software tools, project managers ensure productivity, mitigate unforeseen events, track metrics, manage expenses, and facilitate on-time project completion within budgetary constraints.

  • Closure

Because they are typically complex and difficult to complete, projects must be supervised, and controls must be utilized as appropriate. This duty is the responsibility of the project managers, who are already working closely with the team.

They communicate with the team members, hold meetings with them, and check in with them to monitor progress and make sure everyone is working efficiently. They ensure that the team won’t be distracted by unanticipated issues or cause the project to be delayed. They also guarantee productivity. In order to keep their work at a high standard, they regularly track metrics. They also keep track of expenses and try to do everything within the parameters of the budget.

The finishing of the leftovers is a crucial component of the closure phase. In order to do this, the team collaborates with the project manager and compiles a project punch list of tasks they were unable to complete in a timely manner. They then work to complete it.

Reviewing the entire project and considering its triumphs and failures is the final step. The project team compiles a thorough report detailing every success and setback over the whole project duration. The manager then organizes, completes, and stores the report together with the rest of the project’s deliverables.

Final Words

The exact implementation of these steps will yield a better outcome for all your projects. Although it seems a little difficult to get through all these stages, the final results will make better impressions on everyone’s face.