Whether you’re at work or home, we encounter projects on a daily basis. It could be as simple as cooking a meal or something as complex as constructing new housing developments. To run project management processes successfully, consider all aspects—from planning to budgeting and ensuring the project execution is effective.
While assuring a project runs smoothly, it’s also imperative to complete each project in the proper sequence and promptly.
To enable project management processes, it traditionally includes five steps known as the project lifecycle.
What Is Project Management?
Project management involves applying several techniques, skills, tools and knowledge when guiding a project to completion. In addition, the project manager and team must ensure they meet all project goals within a specified timeline.
In other words, project management processes ensure that the project is running successfully from start to finish on time.
To ensure a project reaches total completion, managers must outline project goals, plan the process and estimate how long it will take. Additionally, they need to confirm they have the resources to make achievements–and consider the challenges they may need to overcome.
There must be a structure to simplify a complex project when it comes to project management. This is where the five steps of successful project management processes take place.
Step 1: Initiation and Conception
The first step is the most critical part of a project’s lifecycle. The goal of the procedure is to identify the purpose behind the project and its objectives.
In most cases, this involves doing preliminary research on the project’s feasibility. Whatever happens from there will set the tone and goals for what’s to come next.
Projects typically stem from a company’s need or goal to solve a problem or discover new ways to do business. For example, a corporation might want to make customer responses more efficient. So, they would likely search for a new CRM tool to help manage those issues.
The best approach to understanding the challenges and goals is creating a brief rundown that outlines the purpose and needs of the project. This part of the process is invaluable—and it’s a great way to get the team and stakeholders aligned throughout the next steps. You want everyone to understand the overall mission to agree on the intended outcomes.
Step 2: Plan
This next phase of the project management process is where you’ll lay out the details of a plan from start to finish. The key to project planning is setting your team up for success—so you can lead them through execution, performance and closure of the process.
Factors you’ll need to consider with project planning include:
- Scope of the project
- Project estimation
- Overall workflow and steps
- Individual’s roles and responsibilities within the team
- Project milestones such as deliverables and meetings
- Approval processes
- How to work with the stakeholders to ensure the project is delivered on time and within budget
Scoping a project can help you make sense of how much time you’ll need to spend on the overall project. Projects tend to go out of range of the initial scope—so, you’ll need a level of constraint to ensure there are no setbacks during the planning phase. You can always make adjustments for later, if necessary.
Once you’ve figured out the time and effort estimates, you can start planning the phases, tasks, resources, milestones and deadlines required. This part of the project management process is critical, so it’s imperative to take time and strategically think through each step with your team.
Communication is key to project success–so, it’s vital to assess how you’ll communicate with your team, especially if you have employees working outside the organization.
Ensure you establish expectations of effective communication, information your team will receive or provide—and include check-in dates, status reports and meetings.
Risk Management Plan
This phase of the project planning will identify foreseeable risks and preventable tactics. The best way to do so is to create an outline that lists:
- Title of the risk
- Details and why it exists
- Plan for overcoming the risk
- Additional notes for the team and stakeholders to understand
Risk management is an ongoing conversation with your team throughout the project. When keeping a list of risks, you ensure they’re at the top of your team’s mind and allow for further input.
Step 3: Execution
Now it’s time to launch the project. This phase of the process is typically the longest since the actual work occurs. It involves team collaboration, work assessments, presentations and revisions.
During this phase, a project manager oversees the team and guides them through each milestone. Typically the responsibilities of a project manager include:
- Time management
- Resource planning
- Change management
- Risk management
- Quality management
- Deliverable reviews
- Communication and facilitation
- Meeting management
Although this is a long list to carry out, managers can handle it by sticking to the plan. When a project manager tunes into the team’s progress, they regularly check in, review the timeline and track budgeting.
Step 4: Monitoring and Control
This phase of the project management process ensures that all things are going according to plan. For instance, a project manager must maintain a keen eye on:
- Quality of deliverables
- Team’s performance
Make sound decisions by understanding the project’s goal. Consider keeping the lines of communication open so new ideas can come to light, and there is enough time to work them in as needed. Sometimes, it’s reasonable to go outside of the plan to enhance the quality of the project.
Quality of the Deliverables
To guarantee quality is delivered, consult with company leaders about standards. Then you can review all deliverables before they send them out for presentation. It’s best to check as a team, then individually as a project manager. Caring about the work ensures quality and enhances your reputation with the company.
When it typically comes to project management, your job is to oversee the project, not manage people. However, if you see someone who needs support, you’ll need to address it. You can solve problems by finding the right processes and being empathetic when handling performance issues.
Step 5: Closure
Once your project is complete and the team is satisfied with the delivery, you can wrap up everything. The team will complete the necessary steps to close tasks, hand off the project to stakeholders, finalize reporting and celebrate.
It’s important to close off a project properly to learn how to achieve better outcomes next time. One way of doing this is to conduct a meeting. Discuss the results and share notes to understand what went well and what didn’t.
You can also create a project closure report and keep it simple by including a few key details such as:
- Project name
- Initiation date
- Deadline vs. actual delivery date
- Project budget vs. actual budget used
- Team members
- Project challenges and wins
- General comments
Finally, it’s essential to celebrate your wins so that everyone can acknowledge their contribution and hard work.
Implementing Project Management Processes
Having a framework can inevitably simplify and organize the project management process. However, it’s important to remember that every organization runs differently. Consider the people, challenges and existing practices before rolling out a project effectively. Motivation and empathy are two key aspects to project management victory.