PROJECT MANAGEMENT PHASES
Phase 1: Project Conception & Initiation
This is the start of the project. The goal of this phase is to define the project at a broad level and usually begins with a business case. This is when you will research whether the project is feasible and if it should be undertaken. Once project stakeholders do their due diligence and give a green light for the project, a project charter is created that outlines the purpose and requirements of the project.
Phase 2: Project Definition & Planning
This phase is key to successful project management and focuses on developing a roadmap that everyone will follow. During this phase, the scope of the project is defined and a project management plan is developed. It involves identifying the cost, quality, available resources, and a realistic timetable. The project plans also includes establishing baselines for performance measures. These are generated using the scope, schedule and cost of a project. A baseline is essential to determine if a project is on track.
At this time, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, so everyone involved knows what they are accountable for. Here are some of the documents created during this phase to ensure the project will stay on track:
- Scope Statement – A document that clearly defines the business need, benefits of the project, objectives, deliverables, and key milestones. A scope statement may change during the project, but it shouldn’t be done without the approval of the Project Manager and the sponsor.
- Work Breakdown Schedule (WBS) –This is a visual representation that breaks down the scope of the project into manageable sections for the team.
- Milestones – Identify high-level goals that need to be met throughout the project and include them in the Gantt chart.
- Timeline/Gantt Chart – A visual timeline that you can use to plan out tasks and visualize your project timeline.
- Communication Plan – This is of particular importance if your project involves outside stakeholders. Develop the proper messaging around the project and create a schedule of when to communicate with team members based on deliverables and milestones.
- Risk Management Plan – Identify all foreseeable risks. Common risks include unrealistic time and cost estimates, customer review cycle, budget cuts, changing requirements, and lack of committed resources.
Phase 3: Project Launch & Execution
This is the phase where deliverables are developed and completed. A “kick-off” meeting usually marks the start of the Project Execution phase where the teams involved are informed of their responsibilities. This often feels like the meat of the project since a lot is happening during this time, like status reports and meetings, development updates, and performance reports.
Tasks completed during this phase include:
- Develop team
- Assign resources
- Execute project management plans
- Procurement management if needed
- Direct and manage project execution
- Set up tracking systems
- Task assignments are executed
- Status meetings
- Update project schedule
- Modify project plans as needed
Phase 4: Project Monitoring & Control
This phase includes measuring project progression and performance to ensure that all tasks and activities align with the project management plan. Typical key performance indicators (KPIs) used to measure project performance include:
- Project Objectives: Measuring if a project is on schedule and budget is an indication if the project will meet stakeholder objectives.
- Quality Deliverables: This determines if specific task deliverables are being met.
- Effort and Cost Tracking: PMs will account for the effort and cost of resources to see if the budget is on track. This type of tracking informs if a project will meet its completion date based on current performance.
- Project Performance: This monitors changes in the project. It takes into consideration the amount and types of issues that arise and how quickly they are addressed. These can occur from unforeseen hurdles and scope changes.
During this time, adjustments may need to made to schedules and/or resources to ensure the project is on track
Phase 5: Project Closure
This phase represents the completed project. Once the project is complete, a “post-mortem” meeting will be conducted to evaluate what went well in the project and identify project shortcomings. This is especially helpful to understand lessons learned so that improvements can be made for future projects. Contractors hired to work specifically on the project are terminated at this time and internal project resources are released to their next assignment. The Project Manager will construct a final project budget and prepare a final project report for the stakeholders. Finally, all project documents and deliverables will be collected and stored in a single place.