Introduction:

5 Critical phases of project management

“No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra”- H.E Luccok

Project management is like an orchestra. You need perfection and planning to achieve your target. The reason why project management is done in phases is because of the complexity involved. Small, medium or large-sized projects are broken into different stages to have more control and improve the quality of the project on a larger scale.

All the phases or stages involved must be planned earlier and this will be the foundation to move the project to the next step. You must ensure that all the goals meet their purpose. Create a Work Breakdown Structure for each phase, check that the requirements are met, conduct a review at each stage of the project. Work with the project team to evaluate their performance before moving to the next phase of the project. The project team and project manager must have one shared goal, which is to meet the goals of the project.

The different phases of project management are known as the project life cycle. There are five main phases in project management. Let’s have a look at each of these phases in detail, along with the variables involved.

 Project initiation phase:

This phase of the project management is where the life of a project starts. It is helpful to create an overview of the project, decide what strategies are needed to obtain the required results. Talking about results, the project manager must have a meeting with the stakeholders and clients to understand the importance of goals, and objective of the project.

After the meeting, start creating a project chart. It is like a map for the project that helps to understand its core objectives. Some of the variables involved in the project charts are:

  • Business vision and mission
  • Goals and benefits of the project
  • Scope of the project
  • Project risks 
  • Project deliverables (statement of work, work breakdown structure, assessment of each phase, plans)

Feasibility study:

This variable deals with evaluating project goals, time frame, and cost involved to check if they can be executed. Creating a balance between the requirements and resources used are essential to match the output of the project.

 Scope of the project: 

It involves with identifying the project goals, deliverables, deadlines, tasks, and cost analysis. Find out what work must be done to complete the project and what needs to be achieved. This will also help you to find out the limitations of the project.

Project deliverables:

This part consists of identifying the scope of work required (intention of goals, stakeholders, objectives), statement of work (which is narrative of the project work requirement, timeline, invoice scheduling, what’s acceptable and what isn’t).

 Build a business case:

After gathering necessary information from the project scope, deliverables, and feasibility study. Start creating a document that justifies the need for this project and include the financial benefits acquired from the project initiation.

 Project planning phase

After receiving acceptance from the investors based on business case. Start creating a plan for everyone to follow. It includes breaking down the entire project into smaller tasks, assigning these tasks to the assembled team, and set a time frame to complete each task.

Project planning is the most important phase in the project life cycle phase because “failure to plan is planning to fail.” Yes, it takes a lot of time and effort. Not a very exciting phase, but it is crucial for the success of your project.

Some important factors involved in this phase are

 Create a project plan:

It should act as a guidebook to project managers on how to produce quality outputs, handling the risks, help them keep the cost within the budget, the value of the project, and assist them to complete their tasks on a given time frame.

Create a resource plan:

The resource plan should give you the necessary amount of resources required to complete this project. For instance, like the number of project managers, additional workers, and raw materials needed for the project. Also, the essential project management techniques and information technology (IT) needed over the course of the project to complete it.

Gather necessary resources:

After creating the plan, gather all other resources such as capital, equipment, and work space. Keep someone in charge of monitoring the resources and replenishing them when required.

Planning financial budget:

Based on the resources required, create a financial cost budget. It will help the team monitor and control the costs throughout the project life cycle. Create a detailed cost analysis with :

  • Cost of completing each task
  • Cost of the entire team to complete a task
  • Set some costs aside for unforeseeable expenses.

 Risks and obstacles:

Projects always come with risks attached, So try and find what risks and barriers you might quickly face during the project. Allocate a percentage of your risk in the financial budget as an expense, as this will help your project avoid failure.

Project execution phase:

This is the phase when everything you have planned on paper comes to life. In this phase, project managers will be working and allocating tasks to the teams and distributing resources. But again remember, success of execution heavily depends on how well the planning phase is structured. Because, the execution phase is a consequence of the planning phase. During this process, project managers should keep a checklist to meet stakeholder’s expectations as promised in the business case.

Another vital aspect of the execution phase is to track the reasons why a project fails or succeeds so you can use it as an opportunity to learn from it. Some of the important metrics to follow during this phase are

  • Goals and objectives
  • Performance reports
  • Project status updates
  • Human resources need

Some of the variables to look at in the execution phase are

 Project progress report:

During the execution phase, there will be a set of data updating as the project progresses, from expenses to incurred resources. Therefore, it is vital to keep regular updates of what’s happening in the project and identify critical issues in other parts of the projects.

Regular meeting with stakeholders and project team:

We would recommend you to update the reporting for stakeholders and clients. Clarify with them whether this is the direction they expected from the project. Also, communicate with the project team if any improvement is needed on their side to improve alignment with project goals.

Project monitoring and controlling phase:

This phase of the project occurs at the same time as the project execution happens. It aims at measuring that all the parameters such as budget, plans, and time frames are aligning with the project plan. The project manager must ensure that quality, scope creep, resources remains within budget. If any risk of failure arises, the project manager should have ways to anticipate and prevent it from happening. Based on the failures spotted, take corrective measures to keep the project on track.

Project closure :

After the successful completion of the project, communicate the results to stakeholders and hand them over the project. Try to evaluate the project with team members. Using this project, identify and learn from the mistakes that occurred. Make adjustments for future projects as this will help you to build a stronger planning process, manage resources wisely, and build more effective teams.

At the same time, give rewards and recognition to the team members who worked hard to make this project successful. This will make the team strive for a better outcome in future projects.

Some of the variables to consider at this phase are

Team performance :

Check the quality of work produced by the team and the output achieved. Suggest what are the areas of improvement. Analyze the overall team performance with the previous projects to track if efficiency has increased.

Documentation of the Project :

Write a detailed document to explain whether the stakeholder’s expectations were met. Explain what where the strategies and phases implemented to achieve the goal.

Budget revision :

At this step, try to analyze whether the project was completed on budget. Evaluate if the cost and profit matches with the initial plan. Look for opportunity costs that could have been neglected during the project.

Conclusion:

Project management could look like an enormous task with risks, problems, and failures attached. But doing a successful project requires following the 5 phases mentioned above. This will help with time management, efficient resource management, and it will make complex projects easier to organize.

Voila !!, this is the final stage of the project management life cycle.

References:

https://www.villanovau.com/resources/project-management/5-phases-project-management-lifecycle/

https://project-management.com/top-5-project-management-phases/

https://hbr.org/2016/11/the-four-phases-of-project-management

https://www.invensislearning.com/blog/5-phases-project-management-lifecycle/#