Regardless of the type of business you manage, at some point, you’re going to need to implement the five phases of project management. The project could be for a client, or it could be part of a larger program of planning and activity to grow your business.
Either way, formulating a plan of action and reducing the larger goal into smaller, more manageable pieces is vital for all of your endeavors.
In this article, the experts at Sling discuss the five phases of project management and how you can use them to guide your team to success.
What Is Project Management?
To get the full sense of project management, you first have to understand one of its fundamental components: the project.
By definition, a project is a temporary individual or collaborative activity outside of routine operation that is carefully planned and designed to achieve a unique goal.
For example, tracking inventory is not a project. Implementing a new inventory management system where none existed before is a project. The former is part of your regular day-to-day business. The latter has a defined beginning and end and revolves around a singular goal.
As you can imagine, putting together a project like this and running it to its successful completion takes a lot of work.
That’s where project management — and the five phases of project management, in particular — comes into play.
Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to help you meet the requirements of a particular project.
Think of project management as a rough outline or roadmap that helps keep you and your project team organized, efficient, and on the road to success.
In the next section, we break down the five phases of project management so you can better understand how to divide a large, complicated process into smaller, more manageable tasks.
5 Phases Of Project Management
The first of the five phases of project management is initiation. This is the point where you begin to define the project on a very general level.
For example, you know you need some type of inventory tracking, so, at the initiation level, you lay down the broad strokes of what you’d like the new system to do and how you’d like it to function.
While your project is still in the initiation phase, don’t get bogged down in specific language and technical requirements. You’ll clarify those types of details in phase two.
The initiation phase is also the ideal time to identify key project stakeholders and research and test whether the project is feasible for your business.
Other than actually getting things done in phase three, planning — the second of the five phases of project management — involves the most work.
At the core of effective planning lie S.M.A.R.T. and C.L.E.A.R. goals. Here’s what those acronyms mean as they apply to the goals you want to achieve.
Specific — Answer the questions of who, what, where, when, which, and why
Measurable — Create metrics that help you measure how you and your team are doing
Attainable — Identify the most important goals and analyze what it will take to achieve them
Realistic — Decide if your goals are realistic for your team and your business
Timely — Establish start and end dates as a way to gauge success
Collaborative — Encourage all team members to work together
Limited — Keep goals limited in time and scope
Emotional — Connect your goals to the passions of your team members
Appreciable — Break large goals into smaller tasks that employees can complete quickly
Refinable — Change your goals as necessary to keep the project moving forward
The goals you set during phase two will guide your team through the remainder of the project. Take your time to produce the best, most comprehensive goals possible for your business.
Phase three of the five phases of project management is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.
It’s during this time that you’ll develop your teams, assign tasks, distribute resources, and execute the plans you put on paper in phase two.
The beginning of phase three may feel like a very chaotic period — and it is — because you’re trying to get everyone up to speed on what they need to do to move the project toward its goals.
Strengthen your people-management skills during phases one and two so you’re ready to deal with all of the questions and problems that manifest in the first few days and weeks of phase three.
For help on coordinating your team, take a few minutes to read these informative articles from Sling:
- 15 People Management Skills Every Manager Needs To Succeed
- How To Manage People Who Are Smarter Than You
- Remote Workers: Tips For Managing Your Team Digitally
The monitoring stage of the five phases of project management is all about using the metrics — or, more specifically, key performance indicators (KPIs) — you established during the planning stage to measure progress and performance.
You can use your KPIs to monitor everything from the smallest tasks to the project as a whole. Other important KPIs include:
- Budget status
- Quality of deliverables
- Problem resolution
Keep in mind, however, that your KPIs will be unique to your project. You may use all of the metrics in the list above, some of them, or none at all. That’s OK.
Don’t try to force your project into the framework of another project.
This is the last of the five phases of project management and is when the bulk of the activity begins to wind down.
If clients were involved, you’ve delivered the product or service. If this was an in-house project, you’ve rolled out the “new system” and are waiting to see how it affects your business.
During this final stage, it’s a good idea to meet with your team to examine the entire process from a higher vantage point.
What could you do to improve? What worked and what didn’t? How would you change things the next time around?
After discussing these and other questions with your team members, create a report that you can access easily so you’re ready to go and don’t make the same mistakes the next time around.
Use The Right Tool For The Job
At the heart of these five phases of project management lies communication.
It doesn’t matter if that communication revolves around initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, or closure. Likewise, it doesn’t matter if that communication is between you and your team, you and your supervisors, or you and your clients.
The better you communicate the more successful your project will be. The Sling app can help.
As part of a comprehensive suite of tools that assist in both project management and the regular operation of your business, Sling allows you to:
- Communicate quickly and easily with all team members, a small group, or just one person
- Create, assign, and monitor tasks
- Set up a unique company-wide newsfeed (much like a social media page) for your employees
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Other features include:
- Powerful and intuitive scheduling
- Comprehensive time-tracking (with geofencing)
- Dynamic reporting
- Time-saving payroll processing
- Effective budgeting
- Productive labor cost optimization
- Helpful overtime control
- And much more…
Add to that the onboard artificial intelligence and you’ve got an extremely beneficial and flexible set of tools that will help you get control of your team, improve engagement, and master the five phases of project management.
Try Sling for free and discover just how easy it is to streamline your operations and keep your business on the road to success.
For more resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit GetSling.com today.