A team in the definition and planning stage of project management.
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When planning and executing a project, a lot can go wrong. Project management success is more likely if your team follows a certain structure.

By adhering to the following five primary phases of project management, it helps team members stay on task and complete procedures in the quickest and most efficient way. These PM phases can also save your organization from making project mistakes such as setting unrealistic expectations.

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Phase 1: Project conception and initiation

The first phase of project management covers all of the necessary tasks involved in determining your project’s purpose, and the best way to achieve your project’s goals.

Determine project goals

During this part of phase one, you turn the project idea into a plan. To begin, you must determine what you want to achieve by executing the project. Ask questions such as “why does this project need to be completed?” and “what purpose will this project ultimately serve?”

After you identify meaningful goals, it will be easier to unify the motives and efforts of each individual involved in the project. This will also help you develop your project charter.

Develop the project charter

This document serves as a formal way to define the project. The charter contains the project’s essential details, which include goals, scope, success criteria, milestones, budget plans, expected timeline and specifics about execution.

Identify project stakeholders

Stakeholders are all of the individuals involved in supporting the project. You need to list each project stakeholder in another document called the stakeholder register; it should contain information about each stakeholder such as their role, group and organization.

Phase 2: Project definition and planning

After the project charter is approved, the project definition and planning stage can begin. This phase should help your team get a better idea of the project’s scope and the actions involved in its execution.

Develop a project plan

The project plan is the most important deliverable in this phase; it should contain the schedule, technical requirements, timelines, actions, task dependencies and the estimated effort and duration of the project.

Other deliverables and documents involved in this phase may include the following, depending on your organization’s procedures.

  • Resource allocation plan: This should consist of a schedule of the project team members’ availability throughout the project life cycle.
  • Communications management plan: This helps establish processes for collaborating and communicating with stakeholders.
  • Work Breakdown Structure: This should be a detailed chart or list of a project’s deliverables and how they are broken down into smaller deliverables.
  • Requirements list: This should list the business requirements and technical requirements necessary to carry out the project.

Create a project budget

Planning a budget is crucial for ensuring project plan success. Team members should create the project’s design and task list, and estimate the budget based on the effort, resources and time necessary for completion.

Identify roles and responsibilities

You should assess team members’ strengths and capabilities to assign the roles and responsibilities of each person.

Phase 3: Project implementation or execution

Your team begins to carry out the tasks and achieve the project goals as planned in the first two phases.

Manage project resources

You will be in charge of organizing the tasks and resources involved in the project’s execution; this includes ways to keep everyone on the same page by establishing workflows, tracking resources and ensuring the quality of work and progress of the project team.

Collaborate as necessary

Team members should update and collaborate with each project stakeholder; this may involve creating and providing documentation for work orders.

Adjust to project challenges

You’re responsible for ensuring that the work proceeds, even if issues arise. You may need to implement and manage adjustments to the project plan to keep operations running smoothly.

Use software tools

Project management software tools can be helpful for managing team members’ workflows, supporting collaborative efforts, tracking resource availability and centralizing project information. For instance, solutions like monday.com and Smartsheet support collaborative efforts by letting participants make comments and communicate on work tasks.

Phase 4: Project control and management

You should monitor the aspects of the project to determine the team’s progress and support their success according to the plan.

Monitor efforts, resources and costs

Your entire team should keep track of the effort, resources and costs used throughout the project. Recording these details can help you determine if team members are meeting expectations and ensure that they follow the project’s budget and schedule.

Track your project team’s progress

You can use key performance indicators and critical success factors to measure and review the project’s progress. Project management software can also make tracking the team’s progress and productivity easier. Project management software solutions like Jira and Teamwork help teams stay on track throughout the project’s life cycle with workload management features that show team member actions against a timescale.

Perform actions according to the project plan

You must be proactive in identifying issues with the project plan or operations. By catching problems or potential issues early, you can develop a mitigation plan and revise the project plan’s processes to address the concern. Staying aware of project plan issues can also be helpful if additional resources and/or time are needed, and you can communicate these details to relevant stakeholders as necessary.

Phase 5: Project closeout

Within this final phase of the project management process, all of the activities in the process are completed.

Complete closeout tasks and documentation

You should communicate the final status to all relevant stakeholders during the project’s conclusion. Participants and stakeholders should also be aware of any continued actions pertinent to their role in this project.

In addition, you will need to complete the documentation required to terminate contracts for external talent hired for the project, as necessary.

Present closeout project deliverables

The project closure may require the submission of more deliverables. The documentation needed for this phase may depend on why the project closure occurred; a closure can occur due to the project’s completion, termination, cancellation or transfer.

Assess project results and reflection

It is always a good idea for project teams to have a reflection meeting after a project ends; this retrospective enables teams to discuss their successes and areas that were challenges throughout the project. In addition, teams should review the entire project and create a detailed report with data and information about it to be stored for future reference.

For example, suppose the organization faces late resource delivery challenges throughout their project, causing them to fall behind schedule. In this case, the organization may refer to this experience as they adjust its future project plans by scheduling more time to acquire project resources.

This review meeting can help project teams to ensure continuous improvement in their future project processes. Additionally, maintaining documentation about the project can provide insight into best practices for future projects that can be referenced as time goes on.

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