Does the business organization where you work feel… a little disorganized?
Does it seem like every department and team has their own way of doing things, harming overall efficiency, production, and your work environment?
If so, it might be time to start implementing proven project management processes and phases at your organization in order to bring your company’s workflow under control. At first, the concept of the project management process and its practical adaption can seem a little daunting, but this article will give you everything you need to set up PM processes and phases at your business.
Phases of Project Management
Projects big and small have a lot of moving parts. There’s so much to coordinate and track to get from Point A to Point B and execute a successful project. That’s why projects are broken down into smaller, more digestible pieces, also known as project phases. Project phases allow you to take your unwieldy project and organize it so that you can wrap your mind around it and make progress.
In project management there are five phases: initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing. Throughout these project phases there is a need to constantly monitor and report, which is where project management tools come in. Without project management tools, you’ll be scrambling to gather actionable data, track progress and meet deadlines.
The five phases of a project constitute the project management life cycle, which coincidentally is the title of a book by ProjectManager.com CEO Jason Westland. His in-depth book goes into amazing detail, a level of which we don’t have time to cover, but we can give you a brief overview so you can grasp how to make project phases work for you and your team.
Let’s take a closer look at the five phases of a project.
This is where all projects begin. The value of the project is determined, as well as its feasibility. Before the project is approved or rejected, these two documents are created to sell the work to stakeholders or sponsors:
- Business Case: Here is where you justify the need of the project, which includes analyzing return on investment.
- Feasibility Study: You need to evaluate what the project’s goals are, the timeline to completion and how much the whole endeavor will cost. You also note what resources will be required to fulfill the project, and if it makes financial and business sense.
If the project is approved, then the next step is to assemble a project team and to start planning how to manage the project so it can achieve its goals within budget and on time.
The project plan will include what resources are needed, financing and materials. The plan also gives your team direction and the following:
- Scope: There will be a written scope statement that reiterates the need for the project, and what its deliverables and objectives are.
- Definition: Here you break down the larger deliverables into smaller ones, which will help with managing them.
- Tasks: Identify what tasks are necessary to produce the deliverables, figure out if any tasks are dependent on other tasks.
- Schedule: Determine the duration of the tasks and set dates for their completion.
- Cost: Estimate the costs involved across the project and formulate a budget.
- Quality: Make sure the quality objectives are met throughout the project.
- Organization: Note how the project will be organized, including reporting on progress.
- Staff: Determine roles and responsibilities of the project team.
- Communications: Decide how information will be disseminated, to whom and with what frequency.
- Risk: Determine what risks are likely, how they’ll impact the project and then plan how to resolve them. Try our free risk register template if you need help getting started with risk management.
- Procurement: Decide what work or materials will be contracted. Define those contracts and who they’ll go to.
Gantt Charts for Planning & Scheduling
A Gantt chart is the most dependable tool for project planning. A Gantt chart is a visual representation of all your project tasks and deadlines, laid out in a timeline format.
With ProjectManager.com, however, you can do more than make simple timelines. Our online Gantt charts let you drag and drop due dates, create task dependencies and set milestones. Plus, you can assign tasks to team members and balance their workload all on the same screen. Our Gantt feature helps you plan, schedule and execute your project with one simple tool.
Now that you’ve done your planning, it’s time to start the project. This is where the rubber hits the road, but that doesn’t mean you’re just cruising. This phase is made up of these detailed processes:
- Executing the Plan: Follow the plan you created, assign the tasks to team members and manage and monitor their progress with project management tools, like a project dashboard.
- Administrate: Manage the contracts secured in the project.
4. Monitor and Control
To ensure that the project plan is being actualized, all aspects of the project must be monitored and adjusted as needed. To do this, follow these processes:
- Reporting: Have a metric to measure project progress and an instrument to deliver this information.
- Scope: Monitor scope and control changes.
- Quality: Measure the quality of deliverables and make sure that the planned quality is being met. If not, evaluate how to improve the quality.
- Schedule: Keep track of delays or blocks that impact the timeline of the project and adjust to stay on track.
- Cost: Monitor expenses and control cost changes.
- Risk: Note changes in risk throughout the project and respond accordingly.
The project isn’t over once the project goals and objectives have been met. The last phase of the project is closing it out. This involves another set of processes:
- Scope: Make sure the project deliverables have been completed as planned.
- Administration: Close out all outstanding contracts and administrative matters, archive the paperwork and disseminate to proper parties.
Related: Free Project Closure Template
How to Implement a PM Process in Your Organization
Projects are best managed when there’s an agreed upon methodology and there are leaders who have experience and knowledge of those methods. If your organization isn’t using project management processes and phases to manage their projects, but you think it could help with project execution, you should introduce it and maybe even a project manager. Here are the primary steps for introducing and implementing the project management process.
Get Buy-In for a New PM Process
The best way to have a successful transition is by having buy-in at the top. You can give the process lip-service, even have training, but if senior management isn’t committed to the process it’s not going to happen. Implementing the project management process in any organization is an endeavor, and the bigger the organization the longer it will take. Therefore, it’s crucial that you get commitment from the top and that they’re invested for the long haul.
Survey Your Typical Project Types
Once you have buy-in from your organization, it’s necessary to survey your existing project types. What types of projects do you and your co-workers execute on a day-to-day basis? Are they long-term or short-term projects? Do they have hard deadlines? Are their products for external or internal use?
Once you start to categorize and organize your various projects into groups, you’ll be able to better understand the extent of your implementation and the necessary steps for a successful PM process overhaul.
Analyze the Details Of Your Projects
Now that you’ve categorized your projects by type, it’s time to analyze each project on an individual level. Realize what “project success” means for each project and what steps are taken to achieve that success. Talk with team members about what tools and methods they are currently using.
For example, the HR department might have very structured phases carried out with old desktop software, while the marketing department might be using agile strategies with online kanban boards. Even if your projects are being executed ad hoc, there’s usually some method to the madness.
Identify Areas of Improvement with the Team
A critical part of the implementation process happens when you identify the pain points of your current processes, and how they can be improved. By identifying pain points, you’re helping your coworkers realize that the current system is broken and that it can be improved with proper project management processes and phases. Make this an open discussion where honesty is valued. Without taking a hard look in the mirror, it can be difficult to understand why PM processes need to be implemented at all.
Execute the PM Process with Templates & Tools
Now that you’ve done your smooth talking, your research, and your open dialogues, it’s time to actually execute the PM process and follow through with the above-mentioned project phases. Depending on the projects your organization carries out, the PM process might be best implemented with project templates, if for example, your projects are similar in structure and repetitive in nature.
However, if you have a large team and a range of project types with a variety of metrics, then online project management software is your best solution because it’s more powerful and offers more features than templates. With ProjectManager.com, your team can make project plans, share documents, and collaborate on project phases. Having an effective, and fun, project management software can make the organizational transition to the project management process smoother and more palatable.
With the right tool and a knowledge of project process and phases, any project is manageable. ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software that serves many industries with real-time data and features that help with each project phase. See how it can help you by taking this free 30-day trial.