Everyone is looking for ways to finish products in shorter amounts of time. While time is money, the problem is that taking shortcuts can also lead to significant issues. While it is true that projects are going to differ in terms of size and scope, all phases of project management require attention. To better understand this, teams need to know how to navigate the various project planning steps. When it comes to the project planning process, everyone should know a few key points.
The Project Lifecycle
From start to finish a successful projects require clear communication and transparent execution. While some organizations and industries may differ on the details, a typical project lifecycle consists of five phases of project management are: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.
From the very first moment that a general goal or project idea is identified, the project lifecycle begins. This initiation phase may be brief, but it sets the stage for the entire project. Here stakeholders should be identified, goals should be defined, and a general description of what needs to be accomplished should be agreed upon. Often, a project in the initiation stage may be shelved in favor of other projects that may have a higher immediate priority. Once selected, the planning phase begins.
The project starts to get its legs in this phase. Here a purpose statement is written, a project scope is defined, constraints are made clear, and a schedule is drafted. All stakeholders previously identified should be consulted to add details related to resources, budget, communications, risk, and production. The team should be well-defined and well-informed. When everyone is ready to commit to action, a project leader will send out the invite for the project kickoff meeting, and the project will move the execution stage.
You’re ready. The team is set. It’s time to go! The execution phase begins with the project kickoff meeting where stakeholders and the individual contributors will go over project milestones and breakdowns, ensuring that deadlines are agreed upon and well-communicated. With roles and responsibilities defined, the project manager begins their job of monitoring and controlling.
Monitoring and Controlling
Throughout the remainder of the project, it is up to the project manager to ensure everything remains on track. This may be done with daily standups as often done in an Agile methodology, but it may also be accomplished through weekly meetings and email summaries to stakeholders. During this stage, questions will arise that may require significant arbitration. Perhaps scope wasn’t as clearly defined as it should have been, and a choice between budget or deadline needs to be made. The ability to keep track of decisions and additional asks is vital to getting a project across the finish line.
Finally, it’s time to bring the project to a close. Assuming the project wasn’t abandoned or canceled, it’s time to deliver the results to the customer, end-users, or stakeholders. During this stage, project teams should summarize important information and save that documentation in a system of record for later use. Most importantly, a project retrospective and celebration should be held to fully understand the wins and failures and note what can change in your next project process.
Project milestones are helpful ways to break the project down into smaller pieces. These pieces are then discussed individually, various iterations can be produced, and the project can be tested. Sometimes, the team might arrive at a milestone and need to change direction or scope.
If there are no milestones put into place during the project management process, the project will have a hard time making these adjustments. A good team is going to be flexible, which is one of the most important parts of the project management process. If there aren’t any milestones, this planning error can lead to costly mistakes.
Project Work Schedule
Another important part of the project management process involves the project work schedule. While it might be easy to overlook the importance of a project work schedule, this is very important. Of course, the goal of a project work schedule is to make sure the project stays on track. A project work schedule should include regular meetings between the project manager, the stakeholders, and any individual contributors.
When it comes to larger projects, there might be multiple teams working separately but still depend on each other to have a strong final result. This is where a project work schedule must have meetings scheduled at regular intervals. As long as they are on the project work schedule, these meetings will provide team members with a chance to give feedback to other people, ask questions of others, and make sure the goals of the project are being met on time.
In this manner, every team has to come up with a project work schedule. A project work schedule is an essential tool for making sure the project is on track to finish both on time and within the budget.