The Four Phases of Project Management

This project management life cycle guide is perfect for beginners who want an easy way to manage their projects from start to finish.

The project might seem overwhelming, but you can complete all tasks by taking a few basic project management steps. If you find project management to be confusing, remember that there is a series of standard steps you must follow to complete a project that meets set guidelines and standards.

The four phases of project management are planning, build-up, implementation, and closeout. Even though the phases have distinct qualities, they overlap.

For example, you’ll typically start the planning process by estimating the budget and the completion date. After you have created a project plan, you will need to start working on the specifics of the plan. You will need to revise your budget and end date after receiving new information. This is because you will have a better understanding of what the project entails.

Planning: How to Map Out a Project

A project management plan can help guide a team towards meeting general goals while preparing them for potential risks and obstacles. Initiation is when you first start to gather information and make assumptions based on that information. Planning is when you take everything you’ve gathered and put it onto paper in a more final form.

A standard project management plan will typically include a list of all the activities and tasks the team will need to complete, as well as the resources required and the timeline for each task.

Steps to take:

1. Create a general plan. How the project planning process will be executed needs to be defined, as well as how you will measure and control the results of each task.

2. Assign someone to be in charge of the project and give different people different tasks to do. Find people with the skills to complete each task. A team that consists of members with expertise in different areas is best.

3. Decide on a communications plan. What predefined methods of communication does your team plan to use with your client or sponsor?

4. Take a closer look at risks. You can talk to your team about how to best deal with risks and obstacles that could delay your project, based on research. You can ask your experienced staff for more advice and tips on risk avoidance. What are some ways that you can prevent risks from happening? Starting with fictional scenarios can help you to find ways to prevent risks and fix the damage that they make. You should discover what you can control and avoid what is best to be avoided.

5. Create a financial plan. The budget you set at the beginning of the project will be used throughout the project development life cycle. Make sure your budget justification is approved before you start spending any money. When thinking about how much money to allocate to your team, consider all of the different costs that will be incurred. You need to decide what is most important to you and where you want to spend your money accordingly. You need to think about your project’s main goal and how each part of the project will help achieve it. Areas that you could use your budget on include product development, design, testing, marketing, management, and human resources. Your budget can either be pre-set, or determined as the project is being developed.

6. Create a resources plan. Determine which tools and how many other resources you will need to complete each task. The use of project management software, Gantt Charts, graphs, Kanban boards, milestone charts, photo editing software, and tools to track HR duties can help improve productivity and organization.

7. Draw up a timetable to work out how long each task will take and the total time needed for the project. Ensure your calendar is organised so that all your ideas will be proceeding as intended and properly managed according to a set plan. By doing this, no step will be skipped. Since one task often depends on another, it is particularly important to not delay any tasks, as this might postpone the entire project. It is important to be realistic in order to meet your client’s requirements while also maintaining a healthy work environment for your employees without putting in any extra unnecessary effort or working after hours.

8. Client approval. Your project should be approved by the client after you have presented a clear and detailed plan. How you present your project’s plan is up to you, but try to make it as understandable as possible. Careful planning will help you avoid taking any risks. If you can’t complete your project without additional resources, you can always ask for more resources, more time, or a higher budget. This will help you meet your client’s needs more closely.

Build-Up: How to Get the Project Going

In the build-up phase, you bring your team together. Time estimates become schedules. Cost estimates become budgets. You gather your resources. You get commitments, and you make them.

Assemble your team.

Your first task is to assess which skills are needed for the project so you can find the right people for the job. This assessment is based on the Work Breakdown Structure that was done during the planning phase, which estimated the necessary tasks and activities. You may need to find people who have certain skills to either temporarily work or be employed in other parts of the organization. Be sure to set aside time and money in your budget for training to cover any areas where you lack experienced personnel.

Plan assignments.

If you have created your own team, you have probably already designated who will complete which tasks. If you are taking over a team that you have worked with before, you can still assign tasks yourself. When given a new, unfamiliar group, list the people on the team as well as the skills required before matching people to tasks. Talking to each team member about their own skill set will help with this process. Starting the process of team communication and cohesion is the first step in this approach.

Create the schedule.

It would be convenient if you could list all the tasks needing to be done and estimate the amount of time required for each one– then receive the required amount of time to complete them. Most projects have pre-determined start and end dates, regardless of the resources available.

To create a realistic schedule, start with any deadlines you know about that cannot be changed. Work backwards from those deadlines to see when your deliverables need to be ready.

Hold a kickoff meeting.

Once you’ve selected your players and created a schedule, have a meeting with everyone to start things off. Review the project plan and objectives with the group, providing as much detail as possible. Also, review the proposed timeline for the project. Be sure to clarify roles and responsibilities. Get people to suggest areas where things could go wrong or be improved. All suggestions should be taken seriously, especially from team members who have more experience than you. Adjust your estimates and activities accordingly.

Develop a budget.

When preparing a budget, the first question you should ask is: “How much will it cost to actually do the work?” To find out your costs, break the project down into categories: personnel, travel, training, supplies, space, research, capital expenditures and overhead.

A budget is an estimate of future income and expenditure. Don’t expect the numbers to match the original estimates exactly, and be willing to compromise on time, quality, and cost.