Project Management Institute, Inc. (PMI)® defines project management as "the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to a broad range of activities in order to meet the requirements of a particular project." This process of directing and controlling a project from start to finish may be further divided into 5 basic phases:
- Planning and Design
- Monitoring and Controlling
All projects start with an idea for a product, service, or other desirable outcome. The initiation process group determines the nature and scope of the project. If this stage is not performed well, it is unlikely the project will be successful in meeting the businesses needs. The key project controls needed, are an understanding of the business environment and making sure all necessary controls are incorporated into the project. Any deficiencies should be reported and a recommendation made to fix them. Overall, there are six key steps that you need to take to properly initiate a new project.
- Develop a business case
- Undertake a feasibility study
- Establish a project charter
- Appoint the project team
- Set up the project office
- Perform a phase review
The first project document is the project charter, which includes:
- Business case
- Scope and deliverables
- Resources needed
- Milestone plan and timeline
- Cost estimate
- Risks and issues
The Project Initiation Phase is the most crucial phase in the Project Life Cycle, as it's the phase in which you define your scope and hire your team.
2. Planning and Design
After initiation, the key to a successful project is in the planning. Creating a project plan is the first thing you should do when undertaking any kind of project. The main purpose is to plan goals, deliverables, schedule, time, cost and resources adequately to estimate the work needed and to manage risk effectively during project execution. This is recorded in the project management plan. Project planning includes:
- Developing the scope statement
- Developing the schedule
- Developing the budget
- Human Resources Planning
- Project breakdown structure planning
- Identifying deliverables
- Risk planning
- Communication planning
The Project Execution Phase is the third phase in the project life cycle. In this phase, you will build the physical project deliverables and present them to your customer for signoff. Execution consists of the processes used to complete the work defined in the project management plan, to accomplish the project's objectives. The execution process involves coordinating people and resources, as well as integrating and performing the activities of the project. The Project Execution Phase is usually the longest phase in the project life cycle and it typically consumes the most energy and the most resources. The deliverables are produced as outputs from the processes performed as defined in the project management plan.
4. Monitoring and Controlling
The monitoring and controlling process group involves managing and tracking the project, so potential problems can be identified quickly and corrective action taken. To do this the project management plan is used. Project control is that part of a project that keeps it on-track, on-time and within budget. Project control begins early in the project with planning, and ends late in the project with post-implementation review. Projects should be assessed for the right level of control needed: too much control is time-consuming, too little control is risky. If project control is not carried out correctly, the cost to the business should be clarified in terms of errors, fixes and added costs. Typical elements of project control are:
- Overall business strategy
- Standards for new systems
- Project management policies
- Change management
- Quality control
- Measuring the ongoing project activities
- Monitoring the project variables against the project management plan and the project baseline
- Identifying corrective actions to address risks and issues
- Managing changes using our change control process
The monitoring and controlling phase in project management will help the project manager to track, review, and regulate the progress and performance of the project. The monitoring and controlling process group ends once the project has achieved its goals and objectives as detailed in the project contract. A project may be stopped before completion for various reasons, including changes in the business, lack of resources or higher priorities.
Project closure is an important part of project management, sometimes overlooked. A project that is not closed will continue to consume resources. Project Closure involves handing over the deliverable to your customer, passing the documentation to the business, cancelling supplier contracts, releasing staff and equipment, and informing stakeholders of the closure of the project. At this point it is important to know how well the project has performed. This is done using the project closure report. It communicates how well the project has performed against its original business case, quality measures, cost, duration and tolerances. Also, after the project has been closed, a Post Implementation Review is completed to determine the projects success and identify the lessons learned.
PMP is a registered trademark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.