Project Development: Everything You Need to Get Started


So, you’ve got a project approved, and you’re ready to kick off the first phase. But have you worked through project development yet? Pause what you’re doing and take a look at how your project has been developed.

It might sound like an unfamiliar phrase, but it matters.

Think of it this way. If project management is the house that you’re building, then a project development process is the blueprint your contractors need to get started on everything. And without that important sheet of paper, you’re already looking at a rocky foundation to your project.

What is Project Development?

Now, this might sound quite similar to project management. But don’t get them confused—there are a few key differences. First, let’s define project development.

Project development is the process of planning and allocating resources to fully develop a project or product from concept to go-live. It typically consists of five phases: discovery, allocation, kickoff, quality assurance, review and report. During the development phase of a project, managers work to establish the people who will make up the project team. This process is typically developed by the project managers attached to the project.

Project management, as you well know, is the process by which knowledge, skills, resources, tools and techniques are gathered in an effort to meet project goals. This is usually mapped out from the perspective of leadership, and then passed down to project managers for further development after the fact.

So, like the example we mentioned before, it’s the difference between a house and its blueprints.

What are the Phases of Project Development?

We touched on this briefly but let’s explore this, because this part is really the nuts and bolts of project development. There are typically five phases in project development. They are:

  • Discovery
  • Allocation
  • Kickoff
  • Quality Assurance
  • Review and report

So let’s take a closer look at these five phases.

Discover Your Project Plan’s Details

During discovery, you’ll categorize every part of the project that’s been defined by the project plan. What needs to be done? Who is doing it? What resources will you need to make it happen? Having questions like that already answered before you get to the discovery phase is important.

It’s also during this phase that you’ll figure out how to measure project progress and identify which milestones you’ll need to create to reach the desired outcome.

Allocate Budgets, Resources, Staff and Time

During the allocation phase, you’ll spend most of your time getting extremely organized and granular with your overall plan. What will be done, when will it be done, and who will do it, are all questions you’ll answer during this resource allocation phase. Additionally, you’ll orchestrate risk assessments during this phase to better understand where potential problems will arise during the project, and allocate time accordingly.

Budgets, the project timeline, risk analysis, as well as any and all assumptions will be interwoven throughout the project where applicable.

Related: Free Project Budget Template


Your project timeline, development plan and budgets have all been approved by your stakeholders, and you’re ready to kick it off. At this point, you’ll set your project into motion, ensure that all stakeholders and team members are on the systems they need to be on to track the project and watch as everything takes flight. Everyone will be working together to create deliverables and ensure that the budget, resources and timeline are all balanced and followed accordingly.

Additionally, you’ll be managing your project development throughout the entire project process. Whether your project is operating in sprints or via a different method, you’ll be managing and optimizing during this phase as well.

Quality Assurance

Once your project is complete, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Was it a success? Did the risks that you anticipated occur? Were there any spots in the project that could have been optimized for maximum output and performance? This is where you test the finished project and ensure that all the loose ends are tied. Gather all relevant data, and present to your key stakeholders for review.

Review and Report

The final phase is review and report. You’ve kicked the tires and tested the end result for assurance. It all went according to plan. Now, you’ll take all of your findings and data, and get feedback from your stakeholders. Where do they think the project could have gone more smoothly? What would they like to see happen during the next project process? Was there any knowledge loss or waste during the project process? You’ll assess this with leadership during this phase.

Tips and Tricks for Project Development Phases

The basic rules of creating and managing a project development process are as follows:

  1. Stay organized
  2. Keep lines of communication open
  3. Track everything

But the biggest key to mastering project development phases is to have a software system in place to better track everything.

From your timeline to your employees being able to comment on their tasks, to allocating for resources, milestones and more. Having a system in place before project kickoff works more effectively than a spreadsheet and keeps everyone organized (not just you!) in one place.

Additionally, if you have a software system where you can communicate to both stakeholders and team members at the same time, have them comment on tasks, and automatically let you know when updates occur, all the better. Even if your team works across multiple time zones, if you can have a common meeting place online, like ProjectManager, where everyone can view the timeline and deliverables no matter where they are, then you’re setting your project up for success.

screenshot of online Gantt chart in ProjectManager, a critical tool for project development

Key Deliverables for Project Development

Since project development acts as the blueprint for the project plan—or the house—the deliverables are roughly the same. It’s the project completion itself, whether that is actually a house, an app update, a new product launch, software implementation or a website. The deliverable is the ultimate objective that all leadership and key stakeholders signed off on and that all team members worked so tirelessly to create.

Things to Avoid When it Comes to Project Development

Oh, we could go on about different mistakes to avoid making during your project development process. But we’ll keep it simple.

Common mistakes we see in project development often arise from a lack of research at the outset. Did you match your resources ineffectively? Were there communication slip-ups with stakeholders and team members? Did the project scope get away from you? Did the project go past the deadline or budget? Did you experience hiccups while gathering requirements?

Those mistakes listed above are common mistakes to avoid during project development. That’s why when you’re developing your project, it’s best to assume Murphy’s Law—anything that can go wrong, will. That way, you can develop fail-safes or contingency plans that activate when plan A experiences issues.

How ProjectManager Can Help With Project Development

Developing a project plan is no easy feat. It’s the details that make up the DNA of your project. One missed detail or one improperly communicated piece of information can have your whole project start off on the wrong foot.

With ProjectManager, you can plan using both agile or waterfall methods, so that no matter which way your team works best, you can have a plan that suits their needs. All of your stakeholders and team members can have access no matter where they are, view the project timeline, comment on tasks and collaborate more efficiently. You can also assign tasks to team members along with due dates, and see activity when updates occur.

Task list in ProjectManager
Task management is collaborative and intuitive with ProjectManager.

ProjectManager also has advanced tracking and reporting features. We have a real-time dashboard that automatically updates critical project metrics, so you always have a pulse on your project. And, for an even deeper dive, we offer automated project reports that analyze project status, variance, task progress and more.

ProjectManager's reports are ideal for project development

Having your project properly developed before go-live is the bread and butter to a smooth project process. But without a proper software system in place to make that happen, you’ll be going into your project blind. Assure stakeholders that all systems are going, and enable your team members to communicate effectively no matter which phase they’re in. ProjectManager is award-winning, cloud-based software that’s committed to helping teams collaborate effectively across multiple platforms. Sign up for our free 30-day trial today.