Project management professionals, or PMPs, are trained and certified professionals who have gained in-depth knowledge and expertise in project management. One of the main objectives of earning certification in project management is learning to successfully plan, execute, and complete large projects for organizations and businesses alike.
For a professional project manager to successfully govern a project’s lifecycle, they will use five project management phases to help them. Here’s how the five phases can help you in completing your next big project while covering your business needs at the same time.
What are Project Management Processes?
There are five definitive processes that project management professionals use to cover the project lifecycle. These are known as the five phases of project management that organize and describe the project’s work in detail. Each phase provides an essential step to the project’s development, with all stages interrelated.
These processes, or phases, go hand in hand with the 9 project management knowledge areas, which govern how project managers approach, execute, manage, and complete the projects they are involved in. Each of the 5 phases of project management uses varying processes that help develop and move the project forward. Managers must move from each phase in order, covering all processes, until the project is either completed or cancelled.
It is up to the project manager to determine how to handle each phase best, using the appropriate project management body of knowledge to weigh up which processes to use and select the right team members for the associated tasks. Let’s start at the beginning of the project lifecycle.
1. Initiating the Project
The beginning of the project opens with the project management initiation phase. Initiating the project is the first step in the project process, covering the organization’s allocation of company resources to the various project areas.
If a company hires a professional project manager, this is where their job starts, as they are brought onto the project initiation. This phase is also where stockholders influence the project’s entirety, governing its main objectives and deliverables.
Two crucial documents will need to be created during the project management initiation phase. Such documentation project managers need at this time, include:
- Project Charter: A document outlining the project’s scope, objectives, and participants, defining roles and responsibilities and objectives and goals.
- Business Case: Also used as a feasibility study, this document examines the feasibility of the project and evaluates its chances of success by looking at the estimated costs, and the risks and benefits associated with the project.
2. Planning the Project
The second phase in the project management process covers the formulation of project goals and objectives. This process step charters the project blueprint, outlining project requirements and the steps necessary to reach them. Planning the project is one of the most essential steps to the project processes.
The planning phase is responsible for producing documentation that will govern the future of the project while gathering the necessary resources, such as project team members, to you. At this point, all areas of the project must be thought through and placed on paper. The project management plan brings all facets of the project together, illustrating what goals must be reached, the steps necessary to do so, and the order or prioritization of those steps.
As this document is an integral part of the planning phase and the project as a whole, project management plans should cover:
- Activity definition
- Scope planning
- Schedule development
- Risk identification
- Staff acquisition
- Procurement planning
- Work breakdown structure
On top of the project plan, a project management professional will also create a Gantt chart alongside this scope planning document. A Gantt chart is a bar chart that depicts a project’s schedule, outlining the time frame of associated tasks and project deliverables.
It is also at this time that risk management is conducted to discern any obstacles that may hinder the project throughout its life cycle. A risk management plan is created to outline these possible risks, as well as any opportunities that can help the project along.
Without this phase, the next three phases in the project management processes cannot be reached. Prioritization is one of the most important responsibilities of a project manager at this time.
3. Executing the Project
Once the project has been outlined and the plan has been created, now is the time to begin the project in earnest. The third phase in project management is executing a projection of the project plan.
This phase is all about putting the plan into action and keeping the project on track. It is up to the project manager to ensure that all tasks are handled accordingly, including allocating resources to project tasks and completing goals that further the project requirements. For these reasons, the project execution phase is typically where the most effort is placed, using up much of the project’s time, money, and resources.
This execution of the project is where the project manager will need to focus on time management skills the most. At this point, scheduling employees will be the most challenging, as everyone is working on the various project’s execution processes simultaneously.
4. Monitoring and Controlling the Project
The fourth stage in the five project phases covers the control and monitoring of the project. Monitoring and controlling in project management covers the process of defining, taking, and analyzing the project performance measurements or key performance indicators (KPI).
Project managers will use several KPI’s to help them measure the current state of completion throughout the project. These include:
- Project Performance: Tracks the project changes throughout its life cycle, noting issues that arise, reaction times to problems, and the efficiency in which they are solved.
- Project Objectives: Determines if the project is on track and on budget and whether it is projected to meet stakeholder objectives.
- Effort and Cost Tracking: Measures the monetary and human resources allocated to project areas to determine if the project will meet all deadlines and objectives.
- Quality Deliverables: Concerns whether or not all project tasks are being completed, and goals are being met.
These performance indicators can help project managers determine if the project is currently on track and whether or not it is following the original project management plan set out in phase two. The aim is to identify any problem areas quickly and correct them to guarantee a successful project outcome.
Generally, at this phase of the project, it is best to review the project plan and ensure all budgets, activities, scope, schedules, risks, and workflow are being effectively managed. It is at this time that change management can also take place, as internal processes or procedures need to be updated or adapted to keep the project running smoothly.
When executing the monitoring and control of projects, many managers will use project management tools and apps, like project tracking software, to help them keep every facet of the project organized and optimized.
5. Closing the Project
The closing phase of project management is all about conducting an orderly and formal end to the now-completed project. However, even if the project has not made it to completion and instead been cancelled, this closing process is still a necessary part of the project’s life cycle. It is also the most skipped process of the five phases of project management.
At this time, all of the project’s data and documentation are gathered into one file, which is then stored by the organization or company for future reference. It is this formal closing of the project that sums up all pertinent information that can be used for further business analysis and insight.
Thus, the project closure phase is an essential tool to help professional managers improve their skills and business owners make informed decisions going forward. For that reason, project managers should never skip the closing phase of project management.
Overall, these processes of project management can be applied to business management of all kinds. Small business owners can use these planning, execution, monitoring, and reporting methods to help them manage their company’s processes, product development, and services for the better. Professional project managers will use project management software and tracking tools to help them keep track of all required information and time frames.
Project Tracking the Phases of Project Management
With the five phases of project management fresh in your mind, now is the time to consider what project management tools can help you complete your next project. Time tracking software like QuickBooks Time offers business owners and project managers the support they need to manage all of a project’s moving parts.
Improve your project management processes with the use of time tracking and project tracking software like QuickBooks Time. Start your free trial today, and get your next project off to the right start!