By Kayla Matthews
Project management involves using a team’s knowledge, skills and resources to accomplish a common goal — the successful completion of a project with a specific beginning and end date.
The phases of project management, from initiation to closure, are designed to help team members understand their roles and how functions intersect. Research has revealed companies who implement project management initiatives save 28 times more money than their non-planning counterparts.
While a solid strategy can’t solve every problem that may arise, it can ensure the processes runs as smoothly as possible.
Phase 1: Initiation
The initiation phase comes before planning a project. This is where you identify a specific need, problem or challenge and how your team can solve it. Brainstorm ideas, get creative and don’t be afraid to think outside the box. During this time, it’s essential to figure out your project’s objective — what you hope to accomplish.
You should also use this phase to determine the feasibility of a project. Is the timeline workable and how much will the implementation cost? According to one study, one in six projects sees an average budget overrun of 200 percent. Identify which resources your team will need to successfully bring the project to fruition.
Phase 2: Planning
Project management techniques are used by 28% of businesses — and only 2.5% complete 100% of projects successfully. The planning phase, the most crucial, is when you identify goals to break the project up into actionable chunks. Each should be specific, realistic and measurable. Unobtainable or unrealistic goals are a recipe for failure.
One person, a project manager, should take reins of the team and control operations. Use a schedule to determine task durations and set deadlines for completion. Decide on the best means to communicate progress and unexpected set-backs. Before moving into execution, learn what risks might arise, how they can impact the project and how they can get resolved.
Phase 3: Execution
Your plan has been developed and approved. Now it’s time for team members to take action. Project managers will need to maintain constant communication with employees to ensure the project is moving along as planned. Help team members stay organized and hit deadlines by sending updates regularly.
Other responsibilities of a project manager include:
- Briefing team members
- Monitoring work quality
- Organizing tasks with workflows
- Allocate spending and resources
- Communicating with management
As the project develops, project managers will need to follow the pre-created plan, assign new tasks and assess ongoing progress with project management tools. PMs also interact closely with clients to update them about the project and ease any concerns or questions about development.
Phase 4: Monitoring
Every project — no matter if it lasts one hour or one year — should be closely monitored. Project managers should look at work quality, costs, risks, scope, changes and more. Out of all high-performing projects, 77% use project management software to track progress and provide detailed reports. These metrics determine if a project is meeting budget and timeline requirements.
Project management software can be used to monitor all moving parts of a project, including time tracking, task distribution, budgeting, resource planning, cloud-based collaboration and much more — but only 22% of businesses take advantage of it. Project managers use this software to monitor team members and communicate wants and needs, but many companies lack access to real-time key performance indicators.
Phase 5: Closure
No project is complete without closure. Has your project been a success or a failure? Most project managers determine a project’s success based on the ability to stay within budget. Other factors to consider include the quality of the end product and client satisfaction. Carefully listen to any feedback to determine areas of improvement.
Once the project is analyzed as a whole, the project manager should also determine the output of individual team members. Did they meet goals? Did they produce high-quality work? Interview team members and ask about their experience. What did they learn? What could be done better next time? What could make their role easier?
The phases of project management are in place to ensure higher chances of success. From initiation to closure, team members should have a clear outline of goals, expectations and deadlines. Success is ultimately determined by a project’s quality, timeline and budget.
About the Author: Kayla Matthews writes about communication and workplace productivity on her blog, Productivity Theory. Her work has also appeared on Talent Culture, MakeUseOf, The Muse and Fast Company.
Featured Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/_pc8aMbI9UQ