There are different schools of thought about the number of phases during a project. Some claim there are 3 phases, others say it’s 5. At the base of it, the PMBOK points-out that the number of phases is determined by the project team and type of project. Project management is solely based on the idea that a project goes through a number a phases characterized by a distinct set of activities or tasks that take the project from conception to conclusion. Projects are big and small, with constraints like cost, time and resources. As projects become more complex, it’s important to structure and define projects throughout the entire life-cycle. That way, you won’t get lost in the hustle and bustle. One way to organize a project is to sort it into 5 phases and here they are.
The 5 Phases of a Project
- Project Initiation Phase– a project is formally started, named and defined at a broad level during this phase. Project sponsors and other important stakeholders due diligently decide whether or not to commit to a project. Depending on the nature of the project, feasibility studies are conducted. Or, as it may require, in an IT project – requirement gathering and analysis are performed in this phase. In the construction industry a project charter is completed in this phase.
- Project Planning Phase – a project management plan is developed comprehensively of individual plans for – cost, scope, duration, quality, communication, risk and resources. Some of the important activities that mark this phase are -making WBS, development of schedule, milestone charts, GANTT charts, estimating and reserving resources, planning dates and modes of communication with stakeholders based on milestones, deadlines and important deliveries. A plan for managing identified and unidentified risks is determined as this may affect aspects of a project later on. Risk management planning includes: risk identification and analysis, risk mitigation approaches, and risk response planning.
- Project Execution Phase – a project deliverable is developed and completed, adhering to a mapped-out plan. A lot of tasks during this phase capture project metrics through tasks like status meetings and project status updates, other status reports, human resource needs and performance reports. An important phase as it will help you understand whether your project will be a success or failure.
- Project Monitoring and Control Phase – occurring at the same time as the execution phase, this one mostly deals with measuring the project performance and progression in accordance to the project plan. Scope verification and control occur to check and monitor for scope creep, change control to track and manage changes to project requirement. Calculating key performance indicators for cost and time are done to measure the degree of variation, if any, and in which case corrective measures are determined and suggested to keep a project on track. To prevent project failure, consider why projects are likely to fail and the ways to prevent failure.
- Project Closure Phase – A project is formally closed. It includes a series of important tasks such as delivering the product, relieving resources, reward and recognition to the team members and formal termination of contractors in case they were employed on the project.
Five-phase Project Management: A Practical Planning And Implementation Guide
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Planning a project in 5 steps – Going directly to executing a project
The Five Steps in the PM Life Cycle
No matter what project it is that you’re preparing for, the project management life cycle can assist you and your team in narrowing the project's focus, keeping it's objectives in order and finishing the project on time, on budget and with a minimum of headaches.
Every project management life cycle contains five steps: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring/Control and Closure. No one step is more important than the other and each step plays a crucial role in getting your project off the ground, through the race, down the stretch and across the finish line.1) Initiation
In this first step you provide an overview of the project in addition to the strategy you plan on using in order to achieve the desired results. During the Initiation phase you’ll appoint a project manager who in turn - based on his or her experience and skills - will select the required team members. And lest you think you need to be a Bill Gates or Donald Trump in order to see your project take on a life of it’s own, fear not: there are some great technological tools available to get you through the Initiation phase of the project management life cycle.
The all-important second step of any successful project management life cycle is planning and should include a detailed breakdown and assignment of each task of your project from beginning to end. The Planning Phase will also include a risk assessment in addition to defining the criteria needed for the successful completion of each task. In short, the working processis defined, stake holders are identified and reporting frequency and channels explained.
3 & 4) Execution and Control
Steps Three and Four take you into deeper water. When it comes to the project management cycle, execution and control just may be the most important of the five steps in that it ensures project activities are properly executed and controlled. During the Execution and Control phases, the planned solution is implemented to solve the problem specified in the project's requirements. In product and system development, a design resulting in a specific set of product requirements is created. This convergence is measured by prototypes, testing, and reviews. As the Execution and Control phases progress, groups across the organization become more deeply involved in planning for the final testing, production, and support.
By the time you reach Step Five - Closure - the project manager should be tweaking the little things to ensure that the project is brought to its proper conclusion. The Closure phase is typically highlighted by a written formal project review report which contains the following elements: a formal acceptance of the final product (by the client), Weighted Critical Measurements (a match between the initial requirements laid out by the client against the final delivered product), lessons learned, project resources, and a formal project closure notification to higher management.
The Project Management Cycle saves time and keeps everyone on the team focused. Fortunately, modern technology provides a variety of templates that will take you from start-to-finish, which makes the Project Management Cycle user friendly no matter what your level of management experience may be!