If you have been tasked with the role of managing a project, it can seem daunting, especially if it is your first time
While high-quality project and program management courses are of the utmost importance, there is no real substitute for the first-hand experience of managing a project right the way from conception through to completion.
Many new or inexperienced project managers freeze when the time comes, or find it difficult to know where to start. Nevertheless, there are a number of crucial steps that need to be taken along the way, and working through these steps one-by-one can help. In this article, we break down project management into five of the most important stages.
1. Project Initiation
The first phase of any project management strategy is the initiation phase, which encompasses a range of different tasks. Indeed, during this stage, you need to identify the basic premise of your project, examine its feasibility, meet with the project sponsors, speak to the most important stakeholders, and establish a budget.
"This stage will change a lot depending on the idea which is being developed," says Ben Mulholland, writing for Process Street. "The key with the conception stage is to examine your project for both its feasibility and value. [You] need to get a rough idea of how long it will take to make, how much it will cost, and the effect it will have.
2. Create Your Project Plan
Almost all project and program management courses emphasise the importance of effective planning and this is the second of the five key project management steps. A clear plan provides the ideal base to work from and, as John Rampton points out in an article for Due.com, a crucial early step is to create clear goals and objectives.
Ultimately, project success will usually be judged against your initial goals and objectives, so try to make them specific and measurable. Additionally, the project planning phase is the point at which you can start to put together your project team, to define some of the tasks that need to be carried out, and to create a basic schedule.
3. Launch the Project
At this point, it is time to put your managing projects training into full effect and formally launch the project. Many project managers do this by holding a kick-off meeting, so that the project has a clear and memorable start point, and so that any last minute issues can be addressed. Then, it is a case of managing progress as it occurs.
"It's only at this point that anyone actually gets started on the work of the project," an article for the Oxford Royale Academy outlines. "Your role is now to monitor and document the progress that's been made, as well as looking ahead and getting things set for later stages.
4. Mark Important Milestones
In order to measure the progress of the project, it is crucial to identify some key milestones that will exist along the way. This can be done during the aforementioned planning phase when the initial timeline is set out. As the project advances, you should take the time to mark each of these milestones as you reach them.
This process of marking milestones can be relatively informal, but it may be beneficial to highlight some major milestones and celebrate reaching them. Doing so will help to keep morale high within the project team, will help to keep the team motivated, and will also give team members a clearer sense of how far they have come.
5. Close Out the Project
Finally, once the project has been successfully completed by the team, it is time to close it out. There are actually a variety of different activities that need to be completed during this stage, including checking with the client that requirements have been met, making sure any subcontractors have been paid and returning equipment.
It is also typical for the closeout stage to include the completion of a final project report, along with the conduction of a final risk assessment. Once all of these things are finished, financial records need to be finalised and then you can start to think about celebrating the end of the project, and analysing where you went right and where you went wrong.
The Last Word
Successful projects rely heavily on the effectiveness of the project manager, who must carefully oversee the work their team carries out, and ensure they deliver on the project's goals and objectives. Many of the best managing projects training programmes will emphasise the importance of taking a step-by-step approach to this.
In most cases, the work involved in managing a project can be broken down into the five basic stages, as outlined above. This will typically begin with the initiation stage, progress through a planning phase, advance on to the project launch, pass through a number of notable milestones, and ultimately end with project closeout activities.
Author Bio – Nadine Rochester
Nadine is a marketing director at Strategy Execution, a leading project management courses providers that also specialises in agile project Management, business analysis and adaptive leadership programmes. An experienced marketing strategist and technologist, Nadine is also passionate about project management, business analysis and agile PM, managing and contributing to the company PM blog servicing 40,000 monthly users.