Project management isn’t exclusive to business organizations—we actually practice project management every day in our lives! We run daily errands, balance work and play, repair household appliances when they break, arrange meetups with friends, and so much more. All these are also a form of project management.
In a business setting, project management can have multiple aspects depending on the organisation and its industry. Ultimately, it always aids a team in achieving a goal, or solving an issue by a specific deadline. Management skills are the basis of every project!
Regardless of whether you’re working on a large corporate project with multiple departments, or a small university project with teammates, a thorough understanding of the project management life cycle is incredibly important. To keep your project structured and on track from start to finish, let’s go through the four phases of the project management life cycle.
Introducing The Project Management Life Cycle
Most individuals go through the same four phases of project management, whether you’re building a website, designing graphics or publishing advertisements – planning, build-up, implementation, and closeout. While each of these phases has its own distinct qualities, they tend to overlap quite frequently.
Here’s a rundown of each phase and the activities that usually go along with it.
The first step involves identifying a business need, problem, or opportunity, then moving onto generating ideas and concepts to meet those needs, solve that problem, or capitalize on that opportunity. Again, this can be done as an individual or with team members that share the same organizational goals.
This step is all about project planning—determining a project’s goal and determining if it’s viable. The primary deliverables of the project should be identified in this phase, along with the scope and resources needed to achieve these deliverables. Clarify what stakeholders are expecting out of this potential project, and run through the possible risks that could impact the project and its outcomes.
- Some steps to take include things like:
- Effective communication among stakeholders and the team in order to understand the project requirement, purpose and desired outcomes.
- Identifying the project scope and determining SMART goals – ensure that it remains Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely)
- Discussing resources such as time constraints, manpower, budget, etc. Cost estimation and budgeting in project management is essential and cannot be overlooked at all costs!
- Some handy documents and tools can help with this process. Try out preparing items such as:
- A written proposal that defines the rough timeline of the project, and lists down resources, requirements and goals.
- Gantt charts to aid in timeline planning and project schedule.
- Project management software like Trello, Ticktick and similar role-assigning software.
This is a critical stage in the project’s development. Without a clear understanding of what has to be accomplished and why, the project faces the danger of failing to achieve its ultimate goals and stakeholders’ expectations.
Now we move onto the ‘how’ of the project, the planning phase—these are the measures you’ll take to achieve the project goals. You enter this phase once the project has been cleared to proceed forward based on your business proposal, Gantt chart, or project initiation agreement.
In this phase, you will need to break down the project into smaller tasks, and if needed, assemble your project team to help out. Create a suitable timeline for completing these tasks, and set smaller objectives within the overall project. It is important to ensure that these objectives are feasible within the projected time frame; don’t overlook the importance of time management in project management!
Calculating and projecting risk, putting in place change processes, and laying out communication protocols are all part of this step. Here are some handy steps:
- Create workflow diagrams: Charts and swimlanes can help you visualise your processes and ensure that everyone on your team understands their role in the project.
- Creating a financial plan: To get the best return on investment, use cost estimates to figure out a budget plan.
- Collecting materials: Build your functional team from both internal and external talent pools, and make sure everyone has the resources they need to execute their responsibilities (software, hardware, etc.).
- Assessing and managing risk by creating a risk register: The importance of risk analysis in project management is extremely vital, and can make or break a project.
- Holding a kick-off meeting to align the team in accordance with the project goals.
The project has gotten full approval at this phase-the strategy has been laid out, the team has been assembled, and the budgets are a go. It’s time to get down to business.
In this phase, the plan is put into full swing. Your job as a project manager here is to keep tasks on track, ensure the team members are working efficiently, monitor important timelines, and move the project forward towards success as planned.
While this phase is generally the most rewarding because work is being visually completed, it may also serve as the most frustrating one as the managing process can be tedious. You have to tackle situations such as potential technical risks in project management, and be prepared to explore alternative solutions if necessary.
The execution phase may involve the following:
- Task and workflow management: Project components should be assigned to the right team members.
- Monitoring and assessment: Ensure that team members are fulfilling their time and goals for tasks by monitoring the quality of their work. Report project progress to upper management and stakeholders if necessary.
- Budget management: Keep an eye on expenditures and make sure the project stays on track in terms of assets and resources.
- Project management risk assessment: Pay attention to signals of developing problems, such as quality issues, time slippage, or even internal issues such as tension or loss of enthusiasm. Address these problems as soon as possible and resolve them to the best of your ability.
Executing the project will be a lot easier if you already have a well-documented methodology in place. Always keep track of things in the project management software of your choice!
Evidently, both short-term and long-term projects all come to an end. You offer final deliverables, release project resources, and assess the project’s success. The project manager’s job isn’t done just because the major project work is finished; there are still vital things to accomplish, such as reviewing what worked and what didn’t with the project.
As a project manager, how do you ensure that each project closes successfully?
- Steps to take can include:
- Taking notes on changes that you can implement for future projects.
- Reporting results: Communicating to involved stakeholders and providing an impact report.
- Performance Analysis: Determine whether the project’s goals were met with no loose ends to tie up, as well as evaluate how your team members performed.
Compare your progress to the scope that was agreed upon at the start. This will show you how well the project has gone—and whether or not there is still work to be done. If the project has gone according to plan, it’s time to celebrate!
Whatever the conclusion, make sure you have time set up for a post-evaluation—a time to debrief and document the process so that the entire value of the lessons learned can be shared. Even if there are some bumps along the road, it’s still crucial to acknowledge the team’s efforts and accomplishments.
If you’re looking into mechanical and electrical project management and planning, check us out at Bluetec M&E Consultant Singapore. BlueTecMNE’s team draws on years of experience as M&E consultants to work collaboratively with clients, fellow consultants, and builders to deliver high-quality projects in the building and construction industry.