Managing multiple projects has quickly become the norm, not the exception, in most work environments. Although the details vary by case, the 5-step project life cycle outlined below applies to almost every project situation, whether you are managing a single project or are balancing multiple.
In the first phase of the project life cycle, the project is defined and established. In moving from a problem to a project it is important to ask questions such as: Is the problem in your company’s jurisdiction? and Do you have the resources in your budget to fund the project? The project manager and team also determine the project’s preliminary scope during the initiation phase. More often than not, project team members and stakeholders will continuously alter and sharpen the preliminary scope into one that is complete and accurate.
Planning involves identifying and scheduling the work packages or activities necessary to perform the work; constructing estimates of duration, cost, and resources; developing plans to ensure quality, manage risks, and control scope; establishing communications and reporting strategies; acquiring resources, both people and contracts; and integrating these elements into a comprehensive planning document.
The phase where the action takes place. Execution involves acquiring and building a project team, performing work, and producing deliverables. Its important to remain aware of the constraints such as time, cost, and performance which will drive and limit the project life cycle.
Monitoring and Control
The monitoring and control phase tracks the team’s adherence to the plan, identifies discrepancies, handles change management, and provides feedback to update and progressively elaborate the plan.
During the final phase of the project life cycle, the project is completed and the project team members transfer deliverables to the next stage or to the customer. The remaining work of the project team involves releasing resources to other projects, developing lessons learned for future improvement, and closing out the administrative elements of the project from an organizational perspective.
Although initiation starts the project and closeout ends it, the other three steps form a loop; planning leads to execution, which requiring monitoring and control, which feeds back into additional planning.
Michael S. Dobson (New York, NY) is a consultant and popular seminar leader in project management, communications, and personal success. He is the president of his own consulting firm whose clients include Calvin Klein Cosmetics and the Department of Health and Human Services. He is the author of several books including Managing Up (978-0-8144-7042-8).