Five Phases of a Project Life Cycle – Explained
By: Account Services Department
What is project management?
Surely, you’re familiar with the term ‘project management,’ but have you ever really thought about what it means? Simply put, project management involves the planning and organization of resources to move a specific project towards completion within specified costs, timelines and scope.
Project management is a practice that crosses over industries, roles, environments, etc. Chances are at some point in your life (in business and at home), you’ve led the planning and execution of a project of some kind. This could include planning your best friend’s baby shower, managing multi-million-dollar construction projects, building a website or making upgrades to your house.
In this blog, we’re going to focus on business projects and outline the phases of a project life cycle and how project management plays a role in the cycle.
5 Phases of the Project Life Cycle
1. Project Initiation
This phase is the planning before the planning – the pre-planning, if you will. It involves determining goals, objectives, etc. and conducting background work such as research and analysis. This phase also requires resource management — identifying the skill sets and experience needed to make the project a success and assembling the team. It is also during the project initiation that a kick-off meeting with the team occurs to make sure everyone is on the same page.
2. Project Planning
The deliverable for this phase is the project plan which mainly consists of tasks/activities and timelines. Depending on how granular your project plan is, you likely will have sub-tasks, which is normal. Generally speaking, the more detailed a project plan is, the better, as it helps to ensure no task is missed or overlooked, resulting in a more accurate timeline and budget.
The project plan is basically a project manager’s best friend, as it will likely be one of the most referenced documents for him or her and will serve as a guide/roadmap for the work until the project is complete.
The plan usually comes in the form of a Gantt chart, providing a visualization of the order of the tasks, their duration and their interdependencies of each other. This is especially beneficial when it comes to knowing how a delayed task will affect the overall project.
A good project plan will also include a contingency section so you can plan for the unexpected. Try to identify risks and have a risk management plan in place so you can respond quickly should they occur.
To make sure a project is done right, it has to be managed each step of the way. This includes meeting and communicating regularly with team members to ensure tasks are being completed within the timeframe of the project schedule and everything is staying on track.
It also involves cost management — paying close attention to costs to make certain the project is staying within budget – or at least as close to the budget as you can get it.
4. Monitor and Control
You can produce your deliverables on time and within budget, but if the quality is lacking and does not achieve the goals, then what does it matter? Above all, the deliverables need to be on point, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re meeting the quality requirements that have been set by your stakeholders.
This phase also involves reporting. Reporting has a twofold impact on the project. One is that it allows project managers to track progress, and two, it provides data for stakeholders during presentations that keep them in the loop. Project reports can include information on various aspects of the project, from task progress to costs.
Once the project is completed, documentation is filed away and the final report is given, there is one more beneficial step to closing out the project and this is the post-mortem. While not exactly mandatory, the post-mortem is extremely useful. It consists of getting the team together to unpack the planning and execution of the project to note what worked and what didn’t. This is a great way to repeat successes and repair mistakes for the next project. It also allows for the improvement of overall processes and operations used for all projects.
Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate the completion with your team. They deserve it and you do too.
When It comes to managing marketing campaigns or projects, our Account Services team works closely with our clients and specialists to understand goals, set priorities, drive collaboration, and deliver great work that is quality, on-time and within budget.
With a proven roadmap to move projects through the agency, a strong project management system and a team that is guided by principles for client engagement, we go beyond what’s expected to deliver success.
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