5 Phases of Project Management: Initiating
In a recent article, I introduced seven popular project methodologies: PRINCE2, Critical Path Management, Waterfall, Agile, Scrum, Hybrid, and Kanban. The purpose of selecting a methodology is to provide a roadmap to project success.
As well as being familiar with different project methodologies and their application, project managers should also understand the five phases, or process groups, of project management defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). These are the Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring/Controlling and Closing phases.
In this article, I will outline the five phases before exploring the Initiating Phase. This article is the first in a series which delves into each phase in more detail and also explains how to map the five phases to a SharePoint project management template.
5 Phases of Project Management
A new project is broadly defined and submitted for formal approval. This phase often begins with a business case, which outlines the objectives, purpose, and deliverables of the proposed project. Stakeholders are identified and preliminary requirements are documented. Key outputs include the project charter which assists with Planning. Any feasibility testing should also take place during this phase.
A comprehensive project plan is developed which outlines project costs and the budget, scope, duration, deliverables, and quality, communications, metrics, risks, and resources.
The project is now ready to launch! The project manager typically uses a kick-off meeting to introduce key tasks and milestones to the team, and discuss the project in detail. The main activities associated with project execution include resource management, tracking work, team meetings and reporting on progress. The project manager should regularly assess progress to-date and adjust the original project plan as needed.
Monitoring is conducted in parallel with project execution. Using KPIs and other metrics defined in the project plan, the project manager monitors progress and performance to avoid scope creep. Earned Value Management is a particularly useful tool during this phase.
Once the project is completed, run a post-mortem to document lessons learned for future projects. It is also important to recognize and celebrate success. Finally, reassign resources and update project documentation, including any collaboration sites.
Depending on the size and complexity of the project, you may need to tailor the five phases as appropriate.
Let’s look at the first phase, Initiating, in more detail.
Phase One: Initiating
The Initiating Phase is the foundation of the project. During this stage, the project manager needs to establish the business case for the project; ensure that the proposed outcome is aligned with the organization’s strategic goals; prepare an initial budget and timeline, decide how to manage the project, and also involve relevant stakeholders and team members.
The business case or project proposal must clearly explain the objectives, purpose, and deliverables of the project; identify potential risks and outline key resources needed to complete the project. This can also include the selection process for a suitable project manager. As the approval process for a new project will vary from organization to organization, it is important to confirm and include all required details.
Once the project is approved, the business case will inform the project charter, which documents stakeholders, project constraints, approaches to change management and other relevant information. The charter should also outline key tasks and a proposed schedule to aid Phase Two: Planning.
In Collaborative Project Management: A Handbook, we recommend you also decide how you will manage the project during this phase. This decision should be based on the complexity of the work involved and the experience of your team. As you can see from the below spectrum, some projects require a lighter touch whilst others need more rigorous project management processes. The choice will depend on project maturity levels with your organization, the number of projects, the complexity of projects, and the duration of projects.
Having identified relevant stakeholders, it is time to engage them! Winning the support of stakeholders is vital to project success. Make sure stakeholders know what you will need from them early on.
Finally, create a collaborative project management site to track the project and help the team work efficiently together. If you are not using project management software, SharePoint is an ideal way to get started.
Phase One: Creating the Collaborative Project Site using SharePoint
The recently updated SharePoint project management template from BrightWork includes a pre-configured project management template with a set of ‘Get Started’ tiles. Set up your project site in just a few clicks:
- Setup Project – which is essentially the Project Charter or Statement.
- Add Tasks – brings you directly into the Tasks Lists, where you can add tasks and plan the project.
- Add Documents – links to the document library in your SharePoint site, a great place to store and collaborate on any project documents or deliverables.
The project management site should mirror your chosen project management approach. Here are some ideas for reports, documents, tracking, and other items based on the project management spectrum above:
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in November 2016 and has updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.