A project lifecycle is traditionally broken down to 5 steps: project initiation, project planning, project execution, project monitoring, and project closure. Understanding these steps helps in grasping the project lifecycle as a whole and provides a good base for project management. In this post, we will run you through the 5 phases.
1. Project Initiation
Before taking on a project, the profitability and feasibility of the project are to be evaluated. Only projects that can be carried out successfully, benefits outweighing the costs, should be given a green light. Data from previously completed projects is useful when doing the evaluation. Past experience of co-operation with the customer can also help when evaluating the resources needed for the upcoming project.
2. Project Planning
A project plan defines the deliverables, scope, budget, schedule, and goals of a project. The plan must set realistic goals, so progress towards them can be measured and tracked along the way.
In addition to defining the purpose and ultimate outcome of the project, the plan should contain interim goals, milestones, to be more appreciable. The milestones are often included in a Gantt-chart, which is a visual representation of the project timeline. Gantt-chart tools are usually included in project management software.
At this stage, the resources available should be mapped out. The better the resource management has been done earlier, the easier it will be to estimate how much and what resources are required for the upcoming project.
3. Project Execution
In the project execution phase, the plan is set in action and project deliverables are developed. The focus lies on assigning resources to tasks and executing tasks. Also, communication and collaboration should be paid attention to.
When kicking off the project execution phase, it is a good idea to go through all of the steps with the people involved and clarify the responsibilities of each and every one. It is important that everyone onboard is provided which sufficient information about the project to start with and as you go. Therefore there has to be an effective information flow.
The easiest way to keep everyone posted is to bring all project related information like tasks, deadlines, memos, and attachments to one single platform, which the whole group has access to. When aiming for smooth communication, it is crucial that the tool is user-friendly - no one will use complicated, time-consuming software. An easy-to-use project management tool also helps with resourcing, project overview and staying organized.
4. Project Monitoring
Project monitoring takes place simultaneously with project execution. Once the project is kicked off, project managers make sure that the project is heading towards the goals and that everything is progressing according to the plan. Does the schedule need to be updated? Is the project staying on budget? Making some changes to the plan is nearly inevitable and some changes are for the better, however, changes must be handled carefully in order to avoid extensive scope creep.
To measure progress, project managers use different Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) as metrics. When following up on the developments, the project manager’s best friend is a comprehensive project management system, where one can see the status of the workflow, easily update and edit all aspects of the project and schedule resources accordingly. The system should allow users to track hours, upload expenses and share updates.
By staying on top of the project development, one can notice if something is heading the wrong way on time and make the adjustments needed to stay on the right track.
5. Project Closure
At the end of the project, it is important that the customer is satisfied. Equally as important is evaluating how successful the project was from your view as the project executor: how much was done in accordance with the initial plan, how much did you earn and how should future projects be managed and priced?
The analysis is much easier to carry out if all project related information has been documented in the same system. Company development and growth stems from learning from past experience and improving on the basis of the lessons learned. A project management system can play a role by generating useful reports and insights.
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Good Project Management Is the Key to Efficiency
The project manager has to manage a lot of data, think analytically and make difficult decisions. If all of the above-mentioned steps are managed with different software, project management is very challenging. There is a chance that something will go unnoticed or be forgotten. Considering that multiple projects can run at the same time, it's more than likely.
Good project management includes the delegation of tasks and quick decision-making as unexpected situations arise. Risk management is also an essential part of project management. No project manager is equipped with a crystal ball, but with an efficient project management tool, errors and forgotten details can be minimized.
A comprehensive project management software helps in keeping all different aspects of a project under control, from start to finish. The PM tool boosts and supports the management of ongoing projects as well as provides a good starting point for new projects.
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