Regardless of the scope of your industry or the company you are working in, having an understanding of the project management cycle is a must. When managing a project, you have to ensure the successful accomplishment of each task on time. This requires vigilance and meticulousness.
To make sure that all the processes in a project are carried out perfectly, you must follow the phases of the project management life cycle. Attentiveness to the different stages of the project management life cycle will help you make sure that all the processes are running smoothly and you are on track.
In this article, we explain the five phases of the project management life cycle. However, let’s first understand what is project life cycle.
What Is Project Life Cycle?
The project life cycle is a five-phase process that allows project managers to efficiently manage their projects from the start till the end. The completion of each step in the cycle takes you one step closer to the end goal.
Phases Of Project Management Life Cycle:
Typically, there are five stages of the project management cycle, include:
- Monitoring and control
Initiation is the first phase of the project management cycle. The phase identifies and defines the goal of the project. Opportunities of gaps in the market are identified and solutions are proposed to cover these gaps.
During this phase of the cycle, the scope of the project is identified and a feasibility report is created. This helps identify the need for the project and the best possible solutions. Also, you have to make sure that the goals of the project align with the goals of the organization.
The various areas covered in the initiation phase include:
- Defining the vision of the project
- Clarity of aims and objectives
- Identifying Potential stakeholders
- Defining the scope of the project
- Identifying the deliverables of the project
- Identification of potential risks and issues
- Determine the resources required for the project
Once you have accumulated the necessary information and deduced a feasible solution to the problem identified earlier, you can get the approval of the stakeholders and move on to the next phase of the cycle.
Planning is the second step of the project management life cycle where you draw a big picture of the whole project. Through planning can take half the load off your shoulders and save you a lot of time and effort.
During this phase, you have to create a plan for the execution of the project. The project is divided into smaller chunks. Each chunk has a separate deadline, and the completion of each task moves you closer to the completion of the whole project. Relevant resources are also assigned in this phase.
The steps included in the planning phase are:
- Identify and engage the stakeholders in the planning process
- Identify the goals you want to achieve and organize them in the order of priority. Make sure your team understands these goals.
- Define the deliverables of the project. Be clear about the goal of each deliverable and its deadline.
- Create a schedule for the accomplishment of goals and efficient delivery of the deliverables. The schedule defines the tasks to be undertaken during the cycle, the time limit for each task, resources assigned, etc.
- Identifying issues and potential risks in the process. The identification of these can help you ready yourself for the unseen. Make sure that you are aware of all the steps to be followed and when you encounter risk or an issue.
- The last step is the kick-off meeting. In this step, you gather your team members and discuss the plan. Any confusion regarding the aims and process of the project is cleared. The kick-off meeting ensures that all the team members are on the same page. Try these meeting management tools to avoid any hassle.
Once you have received the approval of stakeholders and the team members on the project plan, you can go ahead and execute the plan. All the specifics carved in the planning phase are put to action in this phase.
A project manager’s job, during this phase, is to ensure a smooth and seamless flow of the processes. Since a plan is always prone to changes during the execution phase, you have to make sure that you are ready to deal with potential risks and issues.
Your goal is to make sure that the project stays on track without any hiccups. Adjustments are made in the workflow accordingly.
Here are some tips that can help you in this phase:
- Communicate with your team members to make sure there is no confusion or misinformation at play.
- Keep a check on the progress of the project to make sure the project proceeds according to the plan.
- Make sure that the quality of the deliverables Is not compromised at any level.
- Keep an eye on your budget to make sure you do not expend more than what you had to.
- Balance workload on the team members so that none of the team members is overworked.
You can also take the help of a visual management tool to help teammates visualize their progress over time. The tool will help them see how far or near they are to the end goal and what is their role in the big picture. It will play a critical role in keeping the team organized throughout the process.
4. Monitoring And Control
By now, you have completed the first three phases of the project management life cycle. The next phase of the cycle is monitoring and control. Monitoring allows you to see whether the project followed the plan and whether it was successfully completed on time or not.
As a project manager, it is your job to makes sure that the deliverables were completed on time and the quality of each deliverable was maintained. You can also check KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to gauge your performance over the course of the project.
During this phase, actual performance is measured against the planned one and the difference is identified. If a project deviates from the original plan, you can make relevant changes to bring it back on track.
Monitoring and control usually run simultaneously with the execution phase.
The last phase of a project management cycle is the closure of the project. This phase focuses on delivering the deliverables to the end consumers, releasing resources, and determining the success of the project.
The stage does not mark the end of your responsibility as a project manager. Your job is to analyze and evaluate the whole process and present a report on the success of the project. You also have to evaluate the performance of your team and the key takeaways.
You can determine the gaps in the plan or the areas that need improvement and work on them to make sure that the same mistakes are not repeated in future projects.
Some key pointers of this stage are:
- Analysis of the project performance: Determining whether the goals were achieved or not, deliverables were released on time or delayed, and much more.
- Analyzing team performance: Analysis of the performance of each team member and their contribution to the project. Identifying whether they met their goals, maintained the quality of the deliverables, were on time or not, etc.
- Project report: A project report is presented to the stakeholders that explain all the phases of the cycle and how the processes were carried out.
- Key takeaways: Determining the key takeaways of the project.
nTask Is Happy to Help You!
Following the different phases of the project life cycle in project management can seem like a difficult task especially when you have to deal with other tasks too. If you find it hard to keep up with the project management cycle, you can sign up to nTask.
nTask is a project management tool that is equipped with all the features that can simplify project management for you. It helps you create workflows wherein projects are divided into tasks. Each task is assigned a dedicated resource with a specific deadline. You can also schedule meeting with your team members whenever necessary.
The tool also offers issue tracking and risk management modules so that you can easily identify potential threats and mitigate them as soon as possible. nTask also aids in seamless communication and collaboration between team members.
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