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Project Management Process & Phases

Project Management Process and Phases

Do you find yourself allocating “urgent tasks” to your team frequently even after setting task priority?

Is your process creation a feeble effort at streamlining project tasks and activities?

Are you failing to incorporate both consistency and optimization into the project management process?

As a project manager, these are common questions that you must ask yourself. These indicate common issues arising in the modern-day business environment that boasts of exceeding targets and multiplying profits, conveniently ignoring overburdening tasks, and a mismanaged project workflow.

The truth is, no business is insured against facing these project management problems in their everyday workflow.

And, this is exactly where a solid project management process comes into the picture. According to the Project Management Institute, “Project Management is the art of coordinating resources and directing working groups to execute components of work so that each group delivers components that can be tied together into a wholesome deliverable within schedule and budget.”

In simple terms, the project management process is the art of managing all components of a project from starting to closure using a structured scientific methodology. As the PMBOK guide states, project management is scientifically done by managing project documents through 49 processes that are grouped into five project phases.

So, without further ado, let’s explore the five project management phases along with the steps required to implement a project management process in an organization.

5 Phases of Project Management

1. Project Initiation

Initiation is the first phase of project management that measures the project’s value, benefits, and feasibility. The main tools used in initiation are the business case document and the benefits management plan.

The business case gives a high-level picture of what the project is all about and why we need it. On the other hand, the benefits management plan discusses how and when you can reap the project’s benefits.

These two documents are created and analyzed by the project sponsor and project manager, along with other key stakeholders, to decide whether to go ahead with the project or not.

If the project proves viable, a new document called project charter is created, including all inputs from the business case and the benefits management plan. Project charter serves as an approval for the project and authorizes corporate resources for the project. 

Key stakeholders are also identified in this phase. Most of this process happens without the project team, i.e., only the project sponsor, project manager, and few stakeholders. 

2. Project Planning

Once the project is approved in the initiation phase, the next thing is to plan the execution of the project. In this phase, project managers sit along with the team to plan the path of the project. A project manager does most of his work in this phase. Notably, out of the 49 processes laid out in the PMBOK guide, 24 processes come under planning.

A project manager plans different parts and components by bringing them all together and iteratively planning the project. It includes creating strategies for managing scope, schedule, cost, quality, resources, risk, and much more. This phase also includes making a plan for stakeholder engagement.

Project planning focuses on developing a roadmap that the team has to follow by setting goals and milestones. And these project goals must be:

  • S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) 
  • C.L.E.A.R. (collaborative, limited, emotional, appreciable, refinable).

Further, your project plan must include:

  • Scope: At first, an overall project scope management plan is created. It is then used to collect requirements from customers and to define the scope. The scope is then broken down into smaller deliverables called work packages, and they are aligned into a hierarchy called Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).
  • Schedule: After defining the scope and breaking it down into work packages, activities are defined for each work package. The activities are then sequenced, and the duration required for each activity is estimated. After that, a complete schedule for the project is developed.
  • Cost: A cost management strategy is first made, after which the cost for each work package is estimated. The estimates are then summed up, and some reserves are added to them to create the project budget.
  • Quality: A strategy for managing quality is made, which needs to be followed throughout the execution of the project.
  • Resource: An overall resource management strategy is made. Both physical resources and human resources are estimated for each activity defined for the work packages.
  • Communications: According to the project management institute, a project manager spends 90% of his productive time communicating. So, here, a plan for how communications are to be sent out is created.
  • Risk: This is an integral part of planning. Risks are identified after creating a risk management strategy. They are then assessed and prioritized relative to each other. Also, not all risks warrant a response. There might be risks that may not impact the project much, and such risks are ignored. After qualitative risk assessment, they may be assessed based on actual cost or impact values. The second level filter is not mandatory and may be skipped at the project manager’s discretion. Once risks are prioritized, the response plans for each risk are identified and documented.
  • Procurement: Most projects involve purchasing materials or services from outside. Procurement planning analyzes whether to procure or to make materials in-house. In addition, the contract type, the terms and conditions, the breach penalties are also planned, discussed, and finalized.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: Any person who has an interest or influence in the project can be called a stakeholder. But, not all stakeholders need to be engaged equally. For example, you must carefully manage a stakeholder with high power and a strong influence on the project. There might be negative stakeholders who do not favor the project, and they need to be managed appropriately.

Steps to project planning include:

  1. Developing Project Management Plan
  2. Planning Scope Management
  3. Collecting Requirements
  4. Defining Scope
  5. Creating WBS
  6. Planning Schedule Management
  7. Planning Cost Management
  8. Planning Quality Management
  9. Planning Resource Management
  10. Planning Communications Management
  11. Planning Risk Management
  12. Performing Qualitative Risk Analysis
  13. Planning Procurement Management
  14. Planning Stakeholder Engagement

Read More: A Step By Step Guide To Project Planning

3. Project Execution

Executing is an important component of the project management process flow. It involves implementing the project plan and building the deliverables. A project stays most of its time in this phase.

Execution draws input from the planning phase, which means the project team uses the documents and plans created in the planning phase to execute the tasks.

In this phase, project managers, using their influencing and motivation skills, direct teams to execute the project plan. They acquire physical and human resources and build synchronized high-performance teams. The team also focuses on gathering, documenting, and managing project knowledge into various documents. 

Quality check is also done during execution to ensure that the work is at par with quality standards. The project manager also analyzes the performance of individuals and gives necessary feedback or takes action items to improve performance. Communications and procurements are conducted as per the plan in this phase.

Steps to project execution include:

  1. Directing and Managing Project Work
  2. Managing Project Knowledge
  3. Managing Quality
  4. Acquiring Resources
  5. Developing the Team
  6. Managing Team
  7. Managing Communications
  8. Implementing Risk Responses
  9. Conducting Procurements
  10. Managing Stakeholder Engagement

Read More: Excel in Project Execution With These 5 Surefire Tips

4. Project Monitoring and Controlling

Monitoring and controlling project work involves tracking, reviewing, and regulating how the project progresses to meet the quality and performance objectives. This phase often overlaps with the execution phase, as monitoring is done throughout the project’s execution phase. Here, the project manager keeps strict vigilance on the triple constraints (scope, schedule, and cost) to move the project smoothly. In a nutshell, this phase is about comparing the actual performance with the planned project performance to identify variances.

In case there are variances, the cause of variance is analyzed, and appropriate preventive or corrective actions are taken. As the teams execute their project tasks, they must also monitor their own progress and take improvement steps.

Steps to project monitoring and controlling include:

  1. Monitoring and Controlling Project Work
  2. Performing Integrated Change Control 
  3. Validating Scope
  4. Controlling Scope
  5. Controlling Schedule
  6. Controlling Costs   
  7. Controlling Quality   
  8. Controlling Resources   
  9. Monitoring Communications   
  10. Monitoring Risks   
  11. Controlling Procurements   
  12. Monitoring Stakeholder Engagement

5. Project Closing

The project manager can close off a project when the final deliverables are presented to the customer and validated and signed off.

The key actions done here are:

  • Getting the final sign off from customer
  • Finalizing and closing project accounts
  • Communicating about project closure to stakeholders
  • Releasing the resource to the shared pool or other projects

The project manager also holds a project closure meeting where team members and stakeholders participate and share their experiences. 

All the lessons learned are captured and finalized into a document and transferred to the organization’s lessons learned repository. This ensures that similar mistakes are not repeated in future projects.

Read More: Project Closure Steps and Checklist: The Ultimate Guide

How to Implement a Project Management Process in Your Organization

Implementation of the project management process is crucial for perfect project execution, but the question that comes to mind is: ‘How can it be done?’.

Well, here are some steps to follow for aptly implementing the project management process:

1. Check out the Project Type

Determine the type of your existing project by conducting surveys, as it will help you develop effective strategies to execute projects of similar types. Measure how long it will take to complete the project, analyze whether you have hard deadlines or not, figure out the purpose of each project, and so on.

Once you get clarity about the project type, you’ll implement the project management process most suitably.

2. Focus on Every Detail of the Project

After analyzing your project’s type, focus on details that matter for success. 

Finalizing the project’s details will guide how to proceed further to attain the desired deliverables.

It will help to talk with your project team members regarding what tools they want during the development process and other aspects. Since they are the ones driving the project, their feedback is bound to enhance the execution of projects and processes.

3. Identify Areas of Improvement

During the project development process, you leave many loose ends. Hard to accept, but that’s the reality. Generally, amateur project managers tend to believe that they are proceeding perfectly in each phase of the project. However, they forget that there’s always been room for improvement.

Instead of dealing with annoying consequences in the later stages, identify areas of improvement in the initial stages of the project and take the necessary steps to ensure a smooth path for your project team.

4. Adopt a Robust Project Management Tool

Once you have executed the above-mentioned steps properly, you are pretty close to the perfect execution of the project management process.

Moreover, incorporating an ideal project management tool such as ProProfs Project helps streamline processes and coordinate team efforts to accomplish shared business goals and objectives.

Key features of the tool include:

  • Task and milestone tracking
  • Time tracking
  • Insightful reporting
  • Automation capabilities
  • Gantt charts, Kanban board, Calendar view
  • Real-time alerts and notifications

Such a tool is a game-changer for effortlessly managing project tasks and standardizing project processes to result in consistent project quality.

Drive your projects with streamlined processes

Creating and adhering to thoroughly analyzed and well-defined project phases drives your project management efforts in the right direction. Sticking to the five phases ensures that you follow a proven path towards sure-shot project success, minimizing potential risks.

Being a project manager involves paying attention to delicate intricacies in completing a project that otherwise tends to be overlooked, resulting in repetitive project failures. As per the Project Management Institute standards, each project management phase has several processes to get things done in that specific phase. These cover everything from project ideation to task management to project closure, encompassing every process that ensures that your project reaches the finish line successfully. Using a competent Project management tool like ProProfs Project, can provide you with the necessary support to deliver quality projects within the set time frame.

Q. How do you plan a project from start to finish?

Follow the following steps to plan a project from start to finish effortlessly:

  • Identify stakeholders
  • Set goals
  • Prioritize goals effectively
  • Define project deliverables
  • Build the project schedule
  • Identify and analyze project risks
  • Present project to stakeholders

Q. What is the difference between the project life cycle and the project phase?

A project life cycle refers to the path that takes your project to the finish line. On the other hand, a project phase is part of the project life cycle, involving phases such as initiation, planning, execution, managing, and closing.

Q. What are the characteristics of project phases?

Four major phases deemed as the characteristics of project phases are:

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Project closeout

Q. How many processes are there in project management?

There are 7 processes in project management:

  • Phase management
  • Planning
  • Control
  • Team management
  • Communication
  • Procurement
  • Integration

Q. What is the project process?

It’s self-explanatory. A process that is followed to complete certain project-related work activities, during the project life cycle, is called the project process. Project process components include:

  • Project start
  • Project preparation
  • Project planning
  • Project implementation
  • Project completion

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About the author

David is a Project Management expert. He has been published in elearningindustry.com, simpleprogrammer.com. As a project planning and execution expert at ProProfs, he has offered a unique outlook on improving workflows and team efficiency. Connect with David for more engaging conversations on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.