Project Management Processes and phases: The project life cycle

What is Project Management Process

Project management is not a simple stunt to perform. No matter what the scale of the project is. Adhering to the timeline, overlooking every process, ensuring maximum productivity from employees, and most importantly, catering to your client’s ever-changing demands. Performing all these duties at the same time can be overwhelming. There is a chance of missing out on any of these or other tasks if you don’t streamline things. Not only does it make the entire process easier, but it also escalates the quality of the final product or service. 

 

The project management life cycle

To give the entire task of project management a proper process, the PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge) by the PMI (Project Management Institute) has divided the entire project management process into five distinct phases. These five phases are initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. Each of these phases has its own set of goals that one needs to achieve before moving onto the next phase. Let’s take a closer look at each of the phases of the project management process. 

 

Phase 1: Project Initiation 

As the name suggests, this phase is all about kick-starting the project. The project manager at first needs to build a strong case stating the need for the project. The creation of the ‘Project Charter’ follows this step. A project charter is a document comprising details like goals, timeline, budget, and constraints. And finally, the stakeholders, clients, and other relevant parties all sit for a meeting. They discuss and finalize the project schedule, goals, chains of communication, and processes.

 

We can break the entire phase down into the following actionable steps:

  1. Documentation: Before starting a project, some documentation must be completed. These usually include reasons like the need for the project, its objectives, and return on investment. This step also includes a feasibility study which determines if the project is possible with the available time and resources. 
  2. Assemble project team: Before creating the project schedule, at first, there is a need for a project team. This team should cover all the experience and skills the project calls for. 
  3. Set up project office: The project management office is a physical office set up for the project manager and the support staff. This office setup should have all the necessary project management tools. Although, with work from home becoming a norm today, this step has almost become obsolete. 

 

Phase 2: Project Planning

This phase of the project management process is crucial and most time-consuming. The objective of this phase is to create a plan for the project which will lead the way for the next two phases. While creating the plan, no components must be left out. Establishing a schedule, and communication plan, and setting up deliverables are some important steps.

 

Following are the actionable steps of this phase: 

  1. Create a task list: To make the process easier, the project manager divides it into several tasks. Therefore, it is important to map down the entire project in the form of a flowchart or a tree diagram which leads to the ultimate goal of the project. 
  2. Make a budget: projects require money. To pay team members, acquire raw materials, buy tools, etc. Making a budget is a way of estimating the cost of the project. A budget also helps in identifying costs that the project manager can eliminate. 
  3. Risk Management Plan: No matter the amount of planning, there is always a chance of things going the wrong way. Therefore, before starting a project, you need to identify potential risks and be ready with a plan to mitigate them. 
  4. Communications plan: To ensure a smooth project management process, good communication is essential. Setting up a communication path that will keep the people informed with the required information. 
  5. Make a project schedule: In the project management process, a lot of tasks are interdependent. A project schedule will make sure that your team performs the tasks on time, avoiding slowing down the project. 
  6. Assign tasks: tasks will remain ideas until a team member successfully performs them. Therefore, tasks need to be assigned to the person most suitable for them. 

 

Phase 3: Project Execution

We know this phase of the project management process as the implementation stage. The execution of the tasks outlined in the planning phase takes place. As a project manager, your duty will be to monitor the smooth workflow. To ensure this, the project manager will reallocate the available resources. Additionally, they will also identify and mitigate risks and integrate changes. 

 

The actionable steps for this phase are as follows:  

  1. Task management: To ensure the successful completion of a task, proper monitoring and reporting are necessary. Also, the tasks need to be completed within the timeframe. Project and team members can take the help of tools like Kankan boards and task lists to manage the tasks. 
  2. Schedule Management: Adhering to the created schedule is a must in the project management process. Proper schedule management makes sure that deadlines, goals, priorities, and task progress are in alignment with the schedule. This, in turn, ensures greater productivity.
  3. Cost management: Just like a schedule, the budget of a project is also planned. And if not monitored properly, the budget tends to go overboard. Therefore, strict budget control is essential for a successful project. 
  4. Quality management: If the quality of the products or service is not up to the mark, the project is a failure. It doesn’t matter if the project meets the budget and time constraints or not. Therefore, it is crucial that the quality criterions set by the stakeholders are being met. 
  5. Change management: Speaking in a broader sense, change management refers to the process of enhancing the budget allocation, operations, and business process in a company. When applied to project management, it comes down to controlling the changes in scope to assure the success of the project. 
  6. Procurement management: The act of purchasing, renting, or contracting outside resources is called procuring. And procurement management is all about maintaining good relations with vendors and suppliers. 
  7. Resource management: Anything that is needed to get the project done is called resources. This list includes materials, supplies, equipment, team, etc. resource planning is the act of looking after the responsibilities of the team members, where they will be working, and what they will need. 
  8. Collaboration: working together leads to greater productivity. Therefore, after the execution of the project starts, you have to make sure that your team connects well. Providing them with tools and holding regular team-building exercises will make sure that they have collaborated. Doesn’t matter whether they are working remotely or from the same office.   

 

Phase 4: Project monitoring and control  

The third and fourth phases of the project management process go hand in hand. The main objective of this phase is to ensure everything is going according to the plan. The three main constraints of any project are time, cost, and scope. In this phase, the project manager controls these three factors to ensure the successful delivery of the project. The project manager also looks after the Quality control in this phase. 

 

Following are the actionable steps of this phase: 

  1. Monitor the process: While executing a process, one needs to continuously keep a check on the progress. This helps to make sure that everything is going according to the project plan. This helps in spotting any anomalies easily and solving them at the earliest. 
  2. Reporting: Reports serve two purposes in the project management process. The first is that it allows the project managers to keep a track of the progress. Second, it provides data that helps in keeping the stakeholders in the loop. Project reports include task progress, variance, cost, timesheets, workload, allocation, etc. The project manager can customize these to get the desired data. 

 

 Phase 5: Project Closure 

The last stage of the project management process consists of presenting the final deliverables to the stakeholders. If approved, the project manager completes the documentation, clears the resources, and signs off everything. In a final meeting, the entire team can sit and reflect on the entire project. This is crucial to ensure the continuous improvement of the team. A few projects may need to hand over control to another team. If this is the case, the project manager must see that this transition happens smoothly. 

 

The actionable steps for this phase are:  

  1. Transfer deliverables: The sole aim of any project is to produce a final deliverable. This marks the end of the execution phase and the start of the closure phase. The project manager has to identify all the deliverables and hand them off to the concerned party. 
  2. Confirm completion: All clients, stakeholders, and team members need to confirm the deliverable. This is done by sign-offs to avoid any last-minute changes or confusion.
  3. Review documentation: usually, the project manager must review every documentation and contract. But sometimes, in the case of a large organization, there is a dedicated admin assigned to this job. 
  4. Release resources: The team members, any contract workers, etc, must be released officially before the completion of the project management process. The project manager should pay off all dues and notify everyone. 
  5. Conduct a post-mortem: At the very end, a final meeting takes place. The entire team sits and analyzes the entire project management process. They take notes about what they could have done better. This helps in avoiding repeating the same tasks. 

 

Summing it up… 

With time, several tools have emerged to ease up the project management process. But what matters more is your knowledge and skills. Those are your greatest tools. Without these two, no matter how advanced software you use, there will always be a high chance of you failing. Therefore, you must create a strong foundation in this subject area. 

 We at Lincoln University of Business and Management can help you do so. In partnership with the University of West of Scotland, we offer an excellent MSc in Project Management program. The intensive UK curriculum will help you garner theoretical as well as practical knowledge. We understand the competition out there and we have designed this program accordingly. To help you prepare better, we have an assessment-based evaluation. This gives you a chance to put your lessons to the test. The online format will allow learning from our industry professional faculty team without hindering your current schedule. The practical experience that our faculty members bring with them will help you boost your career. In just 12-18 months, you will be ready with an upgraded knowledge, skill set, and a resume to embark on a journey full of potential. 

To know more about the program, visit our page. Or Call or WhatsApp us on +971 55 55 38 999, +971 56 56 56 346. 

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