Discovering the ways to successfully manage a project from start to finish

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Project management is tough. No matter how good a project manager may be, he often find himself slamming into one wall after another in order to stay on track and get projects delivered.

Given the complexities and challenges involved in managing a project, a project manager should concentrate on finding a good project management tooland creating a focused execution strategy.

If you’re a project manager and this is your first opportunity at managing a project, here are 5 stages of the project management process that you can follow to manage it efficiently from start to finish – regardless of the size or type of the project.

STAGE 1: Project Initiation

Step 1: Evaluate the project’s value

Step 2: Identify and meet with stakeholders

Step 3: Understand and evaluate requirements

Step 4: Develop a project charter

The first stage in the project management lifecycle is project initiation. It is considered one of the most significant phases in project management as it provides the very foundation for the success of a project. During the initiation stage, a project manager creates a detailed description highlighting the key tasks, requirements, benefits, costs, risks, issues, etc associated with the new project. At this stage, the clarity and accuracy achieved are helpful to identify whether the project is worth your effort or not.

STAGE 2: Project Planning

Step 1: Gather project details

Step 2: Create a work breakdown structure

Step 3: Develop human resource plan

Step 4: Plan procurement

Once the initial outline of the project gets approved, the next step is to create a summarized plan for project implementation.

Now, project planning is a procedural process that requires a lot of input. In order to create a successful plan, a project manager needs to gather all the critical details and use them to further identify the list of activities or resources that are needed to produce the desired deliverable.

Many project managers prefer to use online Gantt chart software for project planning and scheduling. They integrate essential details into a Gantt chart to get a complete overview of the project and the tasks involved., thereby making project planning easy and accurate.

STAGE 3: Project Execution

Step 1: Define project deliverables

Step 2: Distribute information

Step 3: Delegate tasks to team members

Step 4: Conduct risk assessment

The project execution stage usually takes most of your time and resources in a project management process.

This is the phase where all the strategic planning and brainstorming is implemented in order to produce desired deliverables. First, the project manager defines a specific set of deliverables that must be generated at the end of the process.

After that, all the critical information associated with the project is shared with the team members so that they can understand the implications and complexities of the given project.

In the next step, the project manager defines clear roles and responsibilities for each member and monitors performance while each member works on the assigned tasks/activities.

STAGE 4: Project Monitoring and control

Step 1: Control team communication

Step 2: Design an efficient plan for monitoring

Step 3: Design a report management mechanism

Step 4: Suggest improvements in the project

This is the part where a project manager oversees each task and activity in a project. The purpose of project monitoring and control is to ensure that the project is progressing exactly as planned.

Within the project monitoring stage, the project manager continuously tracks, reviews, and regulates all the tasks and metrics associated with the given project.

Apart from that, the project manager also examines how each team member is performing in his or her job and suggest ways to outweigh the challenges that might lower productivity at work.

STAGE 5: Project Closure

Step 1: Gain formal acceptance

Step 2: Complete final performance reporting

Step 3: Generate invoice

Step 4: Document lessons learned

The fifth and final stage in the project management process is project closure. In this stage, the project manager provides assurance that all the suggested improvements have been made and the project is successfully completed. The product/result is then presented to the client for final approval and once it gets approved, the project manager can move towards the next step i.e. client billing or invoicing. But the process isn’t complete yet. every project comes with a certain set of challenges that teach important lessons to each member of the team. So before you mark your project complete, make sure that you document all the lessons learned and use them in your upcoming projects.

BONUS TIPS:

  • When you and your team are busy working on a project, keep your eyes open for the defining moments (critical milestones) in the project. Doing this will not only help to eliminate potential risks, but it will also help you ensure that your result stays aligned with the client’s expectations.
  • Be ready to manage scope creep. Even though you have the most well-defined project scope, chances are that there will be changes in the design or layout of the project. That is why it is important that you put a plan in place to cope up with the sudden changes and improvement in the project.
  • If you’re looking to simplify the whole process of managing project and achieve greater efficiency, go for an advanced project management software or tool. Insert the software into your work process, provide it with the needed input, and let it make things easier, faster for you.

In conclusion

The process of managing a project may differ from industry to industry, however, the overarching goal of any project is to deliver the desired product or outcome. The above 5 stages represent a big picture view of what it takes to successfully run and manage a project. Now, you don’t need a lot of expertise to put these steps into practice. Just understand the specific requirements of a project and proceed.

If you have successfully completed your project using the above tips, tell us about your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.