Project management is not a one-man show. Rather, there are many stakeholders involved throughout the process. A successful project is the one that takes into account the needs of all and yet remains topmost in quality. It does not happen randomly. There is a series of steps that a project moves through to be called complete.
Regardless of the type and scope of the project, knowing the project management cycle cannot be ignored. It is what gives strength and versatility to a project. It brings organization and orderliness to the whole project completion process.
Understanding the stages of Project Management?
Anything becomes easy when broken down into small chunks. Same holds true with project management. A Project Management Certificationallows the project to be segregated into 5 stages which assists the project manager in the successful completion of the project.
The proficiency of a project manager in handling projects of various size will be conditional upon his or her knowledge of the project management life cycle. As this framework helps them in planning and organizing the projects smoothly.
Each of these phases is a structure consisting of some specific characteristics, product deliverables and review processes. It enables the project manager to handle all the critical areas with ease. Some aspects covered under these phases are:
- What goals are to be achieved?
- Defining the project deliverables.
- Who gets on the project team?
- Monitoring of performance at the end of each phase.
The life cycle of project management includes the following phases:
- Project Initiation
- Project Planning
- Project Execution
- Project Monitoring and Control
- Project Closure
This stage is the beginning of project management process. The project manager holds a meeting to understand the various stakeholder, objectives and resources. Once the feasibility of the project is ascertained, it gets going. It renders the overview of the complete project and deciding the strategies to be followed in the process.
The outcome of this initial phase is a project charter. It contains the solution for all the doubts and issues that might arise in the project completion process. It consists of thee business vision, projects goals, scope and risks, associated budget and resources.
- Feasibility study
It is essential to determine the feasibility of any project at the beginning itself. It is an understanding of the viability of the project from the legal, operational, technical and economic aspects. Devising solutions to the problems and further analysis is involved.
- Determining project scope
The scope of the project deals with the discovering of the length, breadth and depth of the project. It also consists of outlining the deadlines, tasks and services.
- Identify project deliverables
What all products and service will be needed is to be determined under this identification of deliverables.
- Know the project stakeholders
Conducting meetings with the associated stakeholders to understand their requirements. Documentation of the necessary details for further reference. Determination of the impact of project completion on each stakeholder is essential.
Once the project objectives are laid down, a plan is required to move forward. A lot of planning is done in this stage of project management.
The implementation and closing of a project are done according to plans laid down in this phase. These plans are created keeping in mind the ability of the team members, cost, risks, quality and time.
The plan developed does not only mention the objectives of the project but also the methods through which these objectives shall be achieved. Everything ranging from operations, design and functions will be determined in the phase, thus it can be called one of the most complex phases of all.
The components of the planning phase are:
- Creating a blueprint for the project
- Documentation of resources levels required. Ascertain the resources available.
- Estimating the budget for project delivery.
- Gathering resources and diving them into various tasks.
- The anticipation of risks and roadblocks that might occur during the process.
After planning about every step in the project management what remains is the execution of these plans. Implementation of plans, resource allocation and assigning the tasks are taken up under project execution. Building deliverables and bringing satisfaction to the customers is also comprised in this phase.
The project goals are achieved in this phase with a team effort as directed in the project plan. This is a crucial phase that can make or break your project. The project takes shape and forms the quality in this phase.
There are many things included in this execution phase:
- Obtaining regular project progress updates to simultaneously identify and deal with the issues.
- Communication is crucial in this phase. Holding timely meetings with a predetermined agenda can mitigate the chances of conflict in the team. It even enhances productivity.
- No project is free from problems. What matters is the dealing of these problems quickly and effectively. Make sure the problems are solved as soon as they occur.
Project monitoring and control
This phase is fixated upon the measurement of progress and performance of a project. It is used to determine if everything is being done according to the plan and if not, what are the deviations. Adherence to the project financial limit and time availability is seen in this phase.
A project manager is expected to allocate the resources and further maintain their efficient utilization throughout the project by way of scrutiny. Review meetings and performance reports have proved to be a wonderful tool in such situations.
Corrective action can be implemented at the right time if monitoring is done appropriately. A project manager can introduce improvement strategies wherever necessary. Budget can also be maintained by regular supervision of the expenses.
With the excitement of project completion and delivery, it is very common practice to leave this last phase-out. But that leads to a substantial leak in the completion of the project. It is also called the follow-up phase. It derives the attention of the project manager to the product delivery. Wrapping up and finalizing everything is a part of this phase.
- Analysis of the project performance by addressing the efficient use of budget and resources.
- Analysing the performance of individuals and further the team of the project.
- Documenting the project closure in a well-written format to acknowledge the requirements of stakeholders.
- Conducting review activities to see what lessons have been learnt and insights developed.
- Accounting for the budget that has been used. Also mentioning if any money has been saved from the budget allocated.
This phase is often neglected by many project managers but is important to understand that mere completion of the project is not the ultimate goal. But rather creating a sound executive summary of vision accomplishment is the objective.