Phases of Project Management - ICT-IAT

Phases of Project Management
In the world of project management, many project managers follow the Project
Management Body of Knowledge, or PMBOK.
PMBOK is a structured approach to project management, developed by the
Project Management Institute, which includes five phases:
Phase 1: Initiation
The first phase of project management is the Initiation phase. It's during this initial time that
the project goal is established. During Phase 1, if a project manager has been assigned, this
person works with the involved parties, otherwise known as the project stakeholders, to fully
determine how to measure the success of the project once all work is complete.
This allows the project manager and project stakeholders (these are the people with a vested
interest in the project, and often the ones shelling out the money to make it happen) to agree on
the project scope. The project scope will include project goals, budget, timelines and any other
variables that can be used for success measurement once you reach the final phase, Closing.
There aren't a whole lot of software programs that can help you during the Initiation phase,
aside from a word processor to create your Project Charter. This document includes a list of
goals and a short statement, like a mission statement, providing a detailed overall goal. Within
this statement, you should also include a definition of success.
During the Initiation phase you are not making a list of the things that need to happen to
accomplish your total project goal, but rather a list of end-results. For example, "Digitizing two
hours of video" is a task, but "offer streaming videos of lectures to my class" is a goal.
Phase 2: Planning
Often the most time-consuming of the phases of project management, the Planning phase is
where you lay your project groundwork. In Phase 1 - Initiation, you define your project
deliverables through the Project Charter. Now, in Phase 2 - Planning, you create a specific list
of things that need to happen in order for your goal or goals to be met.
Your specific list of identifiable steps is documented in the form of tasks. Many project
managers choose to come up with project tasks using a manual method -- such as a good, oldfashioned brainstorming session. A technique that seems to work well is to write tasks on
individual sticky notes (such as Post-It™ notes).
Then, once you have your tasks written down, begin to hang them in the order you think they
will logically occur during your project. This type of format allows you to rearrange tasks and
see the whole project laid out in a visual format.
Another great option for determining what tasks need to be done, and how long a task might
take is to refer to past projects in which similar steps needed to be taken. Or, better yet, go talk
to industry experts. Simply asking the people that will be doing the work (or who have done it in
the past) how much time is needed to complete a task is enough to get a rough estimate.
In the project management world, there are formulas for calculating a task's estimated duration
and many project management still make these calculations by hand. But, there are many
handy project management software programs that can automatically make these calculations
for you. Even at this early stage in the phases of project management, you can begin to enter
your tasks into a project management program and allow the software to do the heavy
arithmetic for you.
Once you know what needs to be done, you can use a calendar to determine when the work
should be completed and a list of resources to assign your tasks to specific people. Tasks should
be clear and simply stated. If a task cannot be described in a sentence or two or completed
between two hours and two weeks, you might want to break it up into two or more smaller
Phase 3: Execution
Phase three in PMBOK's phases of project management is the Execution phase (although, this
phase may also be referred to as the Implementation phase). The name of the phase isn't
nearly as important as what happens during this phase.
During the Execution phase, your best-laid plan from Phase 2 - Planning is put to work. This is
also a great time to use your project management tracking software to its fullest extent. Project
management software is a must during this time. It doesn’t have to be fancy, or even
expensive, but it does need to keep you on top of everything you thought would happen during
this project and whether or not it is actually happening.
While the Planning phase can take a considerable amount of time, depending upon the project
deliverables, the Execution phase can take as long as or longer than the Planning phase. This is
also the time when you'll spend the bulk of your money and keep your resources busy
"executing" the project plan.
During the Execution phase, the project manager spends a considerable amount of time in
communication making sure the resources (or people, equipment and materials) are available
to do their work and know what work needs to be completed.
There's quite a bit to this phase as a project manager as you work to juggle many aspects of
your project. During this phase, you'll use all of your management skills to implement and
manage cost and quality, risks and change, and several other factors.
This is also a great time to work to keep the project stakeholders informed of the project's
Phase 4: Monitoring
In PMBOK's phases of project management, the third phase (Execution) and the fourth phase
(Monitoring and Controlling) often feel as though they are one and the same. But, make no
mistake -- they are not.
Although, they are tied extremely close together. In fact, it's sometimes necessary when you
reach Phase four to return to Phase two and begin planning again. However, it's probably more
realistic to look at phase three and four this way:
In Phase three, you execute your original project plan. But, it's pretty rare that all of your
project tasks are happening simultaneously. So, it's quite possible that while you're executing
Task 2 (Phase 3), you're monitoring Task 1 (Phase 4) to make sure the work is going according
to the project plan (Phase 2). Let's look at a real world example.
In this example, you are the project manager working on a project that involves the painting of
five separate rooms. Your tasks (simplistically) could look like this:
Task 1: Prep Room 200
Task 2: Prep Room 300
Task 3: Paint Room 200
Task 4: Prep Room 400
Task 5: Paint Room 300
Task 6: Prep Room 500
Task 7: Paint Room 400
Task 8: Paint Room 500
In this scenario, you can have one set of resources prepping the rooms and a second set of
resources painting the rooms. This means, as long as the prepping resources get a one room
head start, the painting team can begin in Room 200 while the prepping team moves to Room
300. As you can see, at any time during the project, you can have several tasks all at different
stages of completion.
This is where you'll find yourself moving (hopefully seamlessly) between the Execution and
Monitoring phases. And, while it's easy to forget which phase any particular task might be in,
there's one simple way to tell.
In Phase 3 - Execution, you're moving forward with your project plan and beginning work. In
Phase 4 - Monitoring, you're watching work progress and keeping one eye on the original
project goal to ensure your project sticks within the original project scope.
Phase 5: Closing
Before the celebrations can begin, there are a few final details that need to be attended to so
the project can be officially closed. That's the whole purpose of the final phase of the phases of
project management - Closing.
During this phase, project managers often depend on their project management software to
provide detailed summary reports of everything from missed timelines to the amount of money
spent during the project and how that information matches up with the original project plan.