Project management isn’t just about the project manager hyping up everyone in an organization to meet deadlines. There is so much more going on that both the project manager and the rest of the team should consider in making projects successful. It consists of the thorough following of the steps for project management to ensure success.

What is project management?

Project management is the systematic process of completing projects or assigned tasks and responsibilities within the organization. The project manager formulates the specific plan for every project assigned to everyone involved. The project manager is in charge of developing the project plans, coordinating with necessary parties, and overseeing the whole process up to completion.

All projects need the expert hands of a project manager who can design a detailed plan for every step of the way. Thus, most upscale organizations tend to their needs.

The steps for project management

As developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI), project management has five necessary steps. These include the following:

1. Project Initiation

This is the first phase of the project life cycle. This is where the assessment of the project’s value and feasibility happens. Its goal is to define the project at a broader scope—outlining the projects itself, including the end goals and the outcomes.

Before projects get the green light, these two documents are necessary for thorough evaluation:

  • Business case

This is the document that justifies the need for the project. It includes all the potential benefits, including the return in investment (ROI).

  • Feasibility study

This is the documentation of the project’s goals, completion timeline, and the projected total costs. It notes all the required resources to complete the project while evaluating if the project makes sense. 

2. Project Planning

Once the initial proposal is approved, the project needs a detailed plan to guide the parties involved. This plan ensures that everyone knows the direction they are headed. It serves as the guide for understanding the goals to be attained within the set budget and timeline. It also includes the necessary resources to complete the project and how the team will procure those. 

Here are some components of the project planning:

  • Scope statement
  • Project estimation
  • Procurement processes
  • Risk Identification
  • Communication plan
  • General workflow and processes
  • Team/Individual roles and responsibilities
  • Key project milestones
  • Approval processes
  • Coordination processes with stakeholders

In setting goals, there are two most commonly used methods, namely the S.M.A.R.T goals and C.L.E.A.R goals.

The S.M.A.R.T. goals ensure that there is a thorough process of identification of the objectives. It aims to state the implications of the goal-setting clearly.

  • Specific – answer the who, what, where, when, and why
  • Measurable – measurability of goal success
  • Attainable – ensure goals are achievable by identifying the needed steps
  • Realistic – willingness and ability to work towards the goals
  • Timely – the timeframe to complete the objectives

On the other hand, the C.L.E.A.R. goals take into consideration today’s fast-paced business environment.

  • Collaborative – promote collaboration among employees
  • Limited – broken down into limited scope for manageability
  • Emotional – present emotional connection with employees
  • Appreciable – classify in smaller tasks for gradual progress
  • Refinable – ability to refine goals when unforeseen circumstances arise

3. Project Execution

This is the phase where the actual work happens, making it the longest step for project management. All activities in the execution step are heavily based on the project plan. The team starts to work on the project while the project manager oversees the project implementation. Leaders and department managers push their members to perform  their assigned tasks efficiently.

In this stage, the following activities are expected to occur:

  • Develop teams
  • Assign the resources
  • Execute the project management plan
  • Procurement management
  • The project manager oversees all executions
  • Create tracking systems
  • Checkup meetings
  • Project schedule updates
  • Plan modifications when necessary

4. Project Monitoring and Control

The fourth step focuses on keeping track of the project progress. It aims to determine the current performance of all activities already executed. This phase wants to ensure that the project management plan is running smoothly as directed.

Project managers assess this progress through the use of key performance indicators (KPIs). Some most common KPIs for project management include the following:

  • Project objectives

This refers to the measurement of the project if it is on-time and the budget is on-track.

  • Quality deliverables

This determines if all task deliverables are being executed.

  • Effort and cost tracking

This is the assessment of the work and resources balanced with the budget. It also aims to know if the project can be completed based on current progress.

  • Project performance

This seeks to identify any changes in the project plan.

5. Project Closure

The project closure refers to the completion of the project. By this time, the team will finalize the last steps for closure, prepare documentation for reporting, communicate the completed project to stakeholders, and celebrate the project completion.

When the project is completed, project managers will reflect through the whole execution and list down the unaccomplished to-dos. The project manager prepares the final project reports and sources out supporting documents. The team revisits the lessons learned, improvements to do next time, and the milestones achieved.

When the whole team reflects on the entire project life cycle, they will discover useful skills and knowledge to improve processes further. The organization can learn from past mistakes and use new learnings to build better and more efficient methods for the next projects.

And that’s how simple a project management plan can be broken down. You don’t have to be overwhelmed when you hear the word “project management.” To help you immerse yourself more extensively with hoe project management works, here are some well-recommended online project management courses to take up:

Tips to be a more effective project manager

Project managers are accountable for ensuring the success of every project management. To be an effective project manager, one must have the right skill set and the dedication to achieve success. Even the most seasoned managers experience challenges in some critical projects. And to help you survive your upcoming projects, here are some valuable tips to ensure effective project management:

Know the project inside out.

The most crucial insider tip to give you is knowing the project by heart. This means knowing clients’ and stakeholders’ interests and expectations, creating the plan, defining roles and responsibilities, and ensuring everyone’s alignment. 

Knowing the project inside out encourages you to be more efficient since you understand the plan itself, the expectations, and everyone’s involvement. Thus, there’s a higher chance of success.

Commence with the end in mind.

Instilling the desired result in your mind results in attraction. The more you think about the positive results, the more you persevere to achieve them. You should also encourage this mindset among team members to remind them of your end goals.

Envisioning end goals frequently is a proven strategy to keep track of your actions. It pushes you to align your tasks to complete the expected results. 

Manage the risks.

Risks are inevitable. That’s why you should consider them during the planning and the execution of the project. You must also remember that not everything will not go according to plan, so risk management is a crucial step. To learn more about managing project risks properly, here’s an online course to teach you the ropes. 

Once you notice an activity that significantly impacts the project, you should be up and running strategies to keep them out of the way. These will minimize the probability of failing a particular goal.

Steer clear of perfectionism.

The best project managers know that mistakes are usual. There’s no point in dwelling on mistakes for too long because it’s the big-picture success that matters. When you pick on the little details too much, you waste so much energy on something that’s not retractable. The best thing to do is to learn from those mistakes and move forward with the lessons.

Perfectionism isn’t healthy if it drains time that could have been used for something more substantial. Focus on the bigger picture and ensure the team is in the right direction.

Use project management tools.

Project management tools are your lifesaver for the whole duration of the project. It will keep everyone informed, on-track, and aligned with the progress of the project. Such project management software can hold up files, documents, feedback, communication, and data to ensure efficiency. 

The usage of a project management tool promotes seamless collaboration among team members. It serves as the centralized platform to know everything about the project. Some of the best project management tools to try to are Trello, Asana, LiquidPlanner, and Teamwork.

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Ensure consistent communication.

Constant communication is crucial for effective project management. If you want everything to go smoothly as planned, you’d like to ensure everyone communicates with one another. You must communicate with the stakeholders, clients, and your team.

Always have your communication lines open, especially for your team members. This will pave the way for clarity on any of their questions.

Embrace leadership.

Managing the team projects doesn’t mean you are only accountable in task delegation. There’s so much more in your role that you should acknowledge. You also need to cultivate good and positive team dynamics. This value inspires your team to materialize success. To be a better leader, here’s an online class to improve your skills.

Know what inspires your team.

Success is a collective effort of everyone in the team. To ensure you achieve success, you must understand how your team gets motivated. That includes knowing the team culture, their interests, individual work ethic, and motivators.

Knowing these will help you design strategies and lead the team in line with how they tick. It enables the team to achieve the desired results. 

Keep proper documentation.

Always document all the works being done. From the project initiation, milestones up to the end of the project, ensure documentation of expectations and deliverables. You can use your project management tool as your centralized system.

Proper documentation is necessary to avoid losing track of the project details and updates.

Evaluate project performance.

As the project ends, evaluation is an essential step to assess the success of the project. In this process, you’ll note what happened in the duration of the project. This may include what went right and wrong, the causes of delays, and the improvements necessary.

Assessing how the project went will help you improve your upcoming projects. It lets you realize the working strategies and avoid the ones that do not work.

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