logo Puraka Bangun - png (2)

5 Stages of Project Management

Managing a project is not easy, whatever its scale and scope. From planning the little things to handling changing client requests to delivering goods on time, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. When you divide a project into manageable stages, each with its own goals and outcomes, it’s easier to control the project and the quality of its results.

In project management guide, if you are somehow in a position where you are expected to manage projects for your organization and feel overwhelmed, it is better to start learning the basic stages of project life cycle phases.

According to the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) Guide by the Project Management Institute (PMI), the project management stages consist of 5 distinct phases including initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closing which combine to turn a project idea into a working product.

5 Stages of Project Management

The following are the stages of project management activities that a project must go through:

1. Project Initiation Phase (Project Initiation Stage)

At this stage, a project is officially started, given a name, and described. Therefore, you must make a large note containing detailed information such as project scope, objectives, appointment of project manager, budget size, work schedule, etc. Apart from that, you must also identify important stakeholders  involved in this project.

The project initiation stage is the first stage of turning an abstract idea into a meaningful goal. At this stage, you need to develop a business case and define the project at a broad level. To do that, you must define the project requirements and create a project charter.

A project charter is an important document that consists of details like project constraints, objectives, appointment of project manager, budget, expected time schedule, etc.

Once you have the project objectives and project scope, identify the key project stakeholders – the people who will be involved in the project. List stakeholders with roles, designations, communication requirements, and influence.

While clear project goals are established in this phase, the project charter does not contain any technical details that occur in the planning stage.

Tools and documents used in the initiation stage may include:

  • Project proposal: A project proposal defines the project and outlines dates, requirements, and key objectives.
  • Project charter: This is the definitive document that describes the project and the main details required to achieve its objectives. This can include potential risks, benefits, constraints, and key stakeholders.
  • RACI Chart: A RACI chart plots the roles and responsibilities of members in a project team.
2. Project Planning Phase (Project Planning Stages)

Some of the activities carried out in this stage include creating a work breakdown structure, setting schedules, deadlines for completing tasks, creating milestones  or  Gantt charts,  estimating and reserving resources, recording important delivery dates, and building good communication patterns with stakeholders.

During this stage, there will be possible changes to the project scope that was determined in the previous stage. However, the project manager must first approve the changes. At this stage, the project manager is also responsible for providing a clear visualization of the work breakdown structure with various divisions to the entire team.

The project planning stage requires utmost diligence as it lays out the project roadmap. Unless you use a modern project management methodology such as Agile project management , the second phase of project management is expected to take up almost half of the entire project time span.

In this phase, the main tasks are identifying technical requirements, developing a detailed project schedule, creating a communication plan, and preparing objectives or deliverables.

There are several methods for setting project goals but SMART and CLEAR are the most popular.

SMART Goals: ‘SMART’ criteria ensure that the goals you set for your project are critically analyzed. This is a well-established method that reduces risk and allows project managers to create clear and achievable goals.

CLEAR. Goals: The ‘CLEAR’ method of setting goals is designed to meet the dynamic nature of the modern workplace. Today’s fast-paced businesses need flexibility and immediate results and CLEAR can help citizen developers with that.

During the planning stage, the scope of the project is determined. It is possible to change the scope of the project, but the project manager must approve the changes. Project managers also develop a work breakdown structure (WBS), which clearly visualizes the entire project in different parts for team management.

A detailed project timeline with each deliverable is another important element of the planning stage. Using that timeline, the project manager can develop a project communications plan and communication schedule with relevant stakeholders.

Risk mitigation is another important aspect of project management that is part of the planning stage. Project managers are responsible for extrapolating past data to identify potential project management risks and develop strategies to minimize them.

An important element that is often overlooked by professionals is an effective change management plan. As a project manager, you must be ready to introduce some changes in the project to avoid project bottlenecks and delays.

In the absence of a work change management plan, scope creep occurs and causes major problems for the project team in the final stages of the project. So, it is best to reduce the possibility of unexpected changes as much as possible.

Tools you might use in this phase include:

  • Gantt chart: A horizontal bar chart where members can see what tasks need to be completed in what order, and how long each task will take.
  • Risk register: A chart that lists the risks associated with a project, along with their likelihood, potential impact, risk level, and mitigation plan.
3. Project Execution Phase (Project Implementation Stage)

It is at this stage that the project work process actually takes place. As a project manager, your job at this stage is to ensure the workflow remains efficient by closely monitoring the teamwork. Apart from that, you must also consistently maintain good collaborative communication with stakeholders and ensure that the project runs well. To make your work easier at this stage, the help of a project management application will greatly reduce your time and energy to monitor the progress of the project in real time.

The project execution phase is where your team does the actual work. As a project manager, your job is to create efficient workflows and closely monitor your team’s progress.

Another responsibility of the project manager, during this phase is to consistently maintain effective collaboration between project stakeholders. This ensures that everyone stays on the same page and the project runs smoothly without any problems.

4. Project Monitoring & Control Phase (Project Monitoring and Control Phase)

This monitoring stage runs simultaneously with the executing stage to ensure that the desired project goals and results are met. Therefore, you must ensure the team works by determining Critical Success Factors (CSF) and Key Performance Indicators (KPI). In this stage, you also have to monitor the work in progress and costs incurred quantitatively. This is to ensure that project work is within the specified budget.

In the project management process, the third and fourth phases are not sequential. The project monitoring and control phase runs concurrently with project implementation, thereby ensuring that project objectives and outcomes are met.

During the monitoring phase of project management, managers are also responsible for quantitatively tracking efforts and costs throughout the process. This monitoring not only ensures that the project stays within budget but is also important for future projects.

5. Project Closure Phase (Project Closing Stage)

This is the final phase of the project management process. The project closure stage indicates the end of the project after final delivery. There are times when external talent is hired specifically for the project on contract. Terminating this contract and completing the required documentation is also the responsibility of the project manager.

Most teams hold reflection meetings after project completion to reflect on their successes and failures during the project. This is an effective method to ensure continuous improvement within the company to increase overall team productivity in the future.

The final task of this phase is to review the entire project, completing a detailed report covering every aspect. All necessary data is stored in a secure place that can be accessed by the project managers of the organization. Activities provide an assessment or evaluation of the final results of the project and appreciation to each team member who has worked together. In addition, a detailed project report must be completed so that it can later be stored in a safe place and can be accessed again by the project manager.