Project management may seem like a loose term used to describe the management of projects. However, projects tend to be complex and multi-faceted, in need of effective planning, organisation and monitoring.
Our team of professionals know that it is often easier to handle the details of a project and take steps in the right order when we break the project down into phases. Dividing our project management efforts into these five phases can help structure and simplify the project into a series of logical and manageable steps.
- Project Initiation
This is where the project’s value and feasibility are measured. Typically we use two evaluation tools to decide whether or not to pursue a project:
- Business Case Document – This document justifies the need for the project, and it includes an estimate of potential financial benefits.
- Feasibility Study – Evaluation of the project’s goals, timeline and costs to determine if the project should be executed. It balances the requirements of the project with available resources to see if pursuing the project makes sense.
- Project Planning
A well-written project plan gives guidance for obtaining resources, acquiring financing and procuring required materials. The project plan gives the team direction for producing quality outputs, handling risk, creating acceptance, communicating benefits to stakeholders and managing suppliers.
The project plan also prepares teams for the obstacles they might encounter over the course of the project, and helps them understand the cost, scope and timeframe of the project.
- Project Execution
This is the phase that is most commonly associated with project management. Execution is all about building deliverables that satisfy the customer. Team leaders make this happen by allocating resources and keeping team members focused on their assigned tasks.
Execution relies heavily on the planning phase. The work and efforts of the team during the execution phase are derived from the project plan.
- Project Monitoring and Control
Monitoring and control are sometimes combined with execution because they often occur at the same time. As teams execute their project plan, they must constantly monitor their own progress.
To guarantee delivery of what was promised, teams must monitor tasks to prevent scope creep, calculate key performance indicators and track variations from allotted cost and time. This constant vigilance helps keep the project moving ahead smoothly.
- Project Closure
Teams close a project when they deliver the finished project to the customer, communicating completion to stakeholders and releasing resources to other projects. This vital step in the project lifecycle allows the team to evaluate and document the project and move on the next one, using previous project mistakes and successes to build stronger processes and more successful teams.
Although project management may seem overwhelming at times, breaking it down into these five distinct cycles can help your team manage even the most complex projects and use time and resources more wisely.