It is a daunting task to manage a project from start to finish – or any number of tasks for that matter. Usually, such problems arise as a result of a person not being equipped with project management certifications. In an alternate case, I have also seen many certified individuals, who lack experience despite having the proper credentials for it.
Does project scope, Critical Path Method, project process, Prince2, and Scrum ring a bell in your mind? If so, then this write-up will help you to manage a project from the very start to finish – even if you are not a professional yet.
The truth is that everyone needs to know project management concepts even if you are not a professional project manager. It helps in achieving your project goals more easily as everyone works to make their “task” a huge success.
What is the project management process?
Projects can be complex in reality but they follow a common project management process. Alternatively, there could be a bunch of processes in place. This stuff varies from project to project and/or from industry to industry. Take a brief gander at the appended tips.
1. Project concept and initiation
The very first step in the project management process is to settle down with your project concepts and initiation led by your project idea. This “initiation” phase may start from a piece of paper and pen to help draw your project idea on what’s needed to be done. It is better to do some research on your project, jot down major points, and get approval(s) from stakeholders.
This is the stage where your project charter is developed. The project charter is the document where you decide the overall project scope, objectives, and team management.
Check out the article to know more about project charter: How to write an effective project charter?
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2. Project definition and planning
In this project process step, you need to define your project plan and list down all the work that is needed to be done in the project. You will have to answer, the: Who, What, Where, When, and How’s of your project.
The success of your project is inherent in project planning. The better the plan is, the better would be your project outcome. Professional project managers will tell you about the success of your project by looking at your project planning. They are very meticulous that way.
You will also need to decide the project budget, project scheduling, and resource management in this step of the project management process. These items might change during the course of your project execution, but it is a good practice to plan everything in advance.
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3. Project execution and delivery
This is the kick-off stage of your project. You will start your project by gathering all the required resources at the initial stage and focus to complete your assigned tasks. At this stage, you will have to manage the communication, project team, quality, and project deliverability.
It is better to have a project kick-off meeting to help you set the project delivery pace. During the meeting, you will be collaborating with your team; discuss the tasks at hand, project timeline responsibilities, and other variances.
4. Monitoring and controlling project performance
Moving on, you need to make sure that everything is working fine for you and ensure that the project plan is followed and you avoid scope creep. This is done constantly throughout the project timeline from start to finish. It helps in measuring the project performance and matching the results with your set targets.
You will need to set your concerned project KPI’s during the project planning stage, and need to monitor and control your actions to help meet your desired goals.
Check out the common project management KPI’s here: 60 Important Business Metrics Your Business Must Know.
5. Project Closing and Evaluation
At this stage, you are required to wrap up your project after completing its objectives. If your project is completed with full satisfaction then you must move on to the next project. If not, then you need to work on improving the results and achieving your project goal.
At the project closing stage, you will evaluate your project delivery with the help of KPI indexes, whether the targets are achieved or not. The project will be evaluated on the basis of quality, speed, accuracy, and deliverability. After the project is successfully evaluated, it is considered good practice to learn about your project team competency. Furthermore, you can decide on how to work to get better results in your next project.
10 effective tips on how to manage a project
Now, I will highlight the most effective tips on how to manage a project from start to finish like a Pro:
1. Define Project Scope
This is the very first step in any project that comes up during the project initiation stage. Within a project scope, you will find out what you want to achieve? Set the project objectives and highlight points that are not included in the scope.
The best practice is to jot down everything important on a piece of paper or on a digital document. Think from a broad term perspective to see where you will be implementing your project-related ideologies in the near future.
This step is performed at the very start of your project phase. While devising your project scope, you should start big and narrow down your project focus. Present your project scope with the CEO and other stakeholders and see what comes up.
2. Know your timeline
Determining your project timeline is much critical. When is your project going to be complete? How much time you will assign to each project? You will require to answer these questions at this step. At the time when you create your project plan, you may estimate the time for each task along with your project, but the project deadline is fixed and usually, it does not change.
3. Assess your available resources
Determining the available resource will help you to prepare for starting the project. Assessing the available human resource, investment, machinery, and equipment is necessary to determine any bottlenecks in your project execution.
However, usually, you will not have direct control over your resources. Some people perform better than others, so the outcome varies from project to project. As a project manager, it is your responsibility to manage all the shortcomings and risks in your project. Perhaps it may be the right time to give risk management apps a try.
4. Create a project plan
Get feedback on all the above three steps; project scope, project timeline, and available resources from top management to help create your project plan. The project plan includes your project schedule and task workflow, resources, critical path, and network diagram.
5. Communicate with the team
After you get the approval of your project plan, you must gather your team for a meeting on the project and brief them about the nitty gritties. Document your meeting minutes, assign meeting attendees and set recurring meetings with the help of the meeting management software.
6. Delegate Work According to Available Resources
If you are a team lead, project manager, or business owner, it doesn’t mean that you have to do all the work on your own. Establish a practice of delegating your work to your team so that you can focus more on monitoring and control.
Try to delegate tasks to your team according to their skill sets and capabilities. Learn the strengths of your team and use them for your benefit.
7. Document Everything!
You may have a good memory but you still need to document everything from the project start to finish so that you will not miss out on anything. It’s safe to keep every record.
Whenever you make adjustments to your projects or a new requirement is included in your project execution, you should keep a record of such variances to keep ahead of the curve. This will help you in reviewing your project before the final project delivery milestone date.
8. Monitor the project progress
Once your project has kicked off, you should monitor the progress of your project tasks, deliveries, team, and everything that affects your project. Set KPIs with planned goals so that you can match the actual results to planned results accordingly.
9. Use nTask Project Management Software
If you want to take your project to the next level then use nTask project and task management software. It is an all-in-one tool that is packed with the richest features covering all your project needs.
The best thing is that nTask will help with your projects from the start to finish. You can create tasks, to-do list items, collaborate, create Gantt Charts, manage issues and risk, and manage project budget all within the same nTask platform.
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10. Follow-up and appreciate
You should be informed of your project status by meeting with your team, vendors, and other stakeholders. If someone is falling behind the project timeline you need to buck them up to get back on the right track. You need to be open and listen to others.
Moreover, you must appreciate the efforts of your team. You should develop the people skills to become an effective project leader. Learn more leadership styles here.
You know that the projects have deadlines. With deadlines, you are always looking to deal with finite time-based resources. Such situations are not in your direct control. However, the best course of action is to adapt and improvise.
As a project manager, which effective tips would you like to share with our readers? Feel voice your concern through the comments section below.