Four project management stages all projects go through

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If you’re just starting your project management career, you could be looking for a simple way to you handle your projects. The entire process might look overwhelming at first, but if you pass through a sequence of basic steps, you’ll be able to complete your work in time and within the set budget without much hassle.

To make your work easier, we’ve structured the entire project management process into 4 easy-to-understand stages that can help you successfully take a project from beginning to its completion.

Concept stage

The first part of a project consists of finding and drafting a list of the client’s necessities. Then, you’ll evaluate your available resources to find out what else you’d need to complete the project. You might want to also determine how significant the project is for your company’s project portfolio.

Being a project manager, you have the duty to hold an initial meeting with your clients to see exactly what they need from the final product. This is crucial for the project’s success. Knowing what they want to achieve can help you avoid arguments or problems during the project’s development.

Write down everything you discuss with a client. Any decision or change that you make will need to be communicated prior to its execution. To keep all these in check, larger projects that involve several processes and departments will need a formal document that contains all project details so nothing’s left out.

Planning stage

This phase is dedicated to writing down all the details about the duties that must be completed, from a project’s first task to its completion. You can create an exact plan only after talking to your client. A clearly-written plan ensures that your employees won’t encounter any difficulties in understanding assignments while completing their duties. Otherwise, errors could cause uncertainty and delay the project’s milestones.

This is also the stage when you choose your team members and assign their roles. Project plans are commonly generated during a kickoff meeting with your co-workers. They should show teams how to reach their objectives and get them ready to face any obstacle. While the client’s specifications must be met, you should also consider what the team’s opinion is on your plan.

Compared to the previous stage, planning is much more than just making rational assumptions on what will or not. You now have to make actual decisions that you’ll put into practice.

What else should you think of? Creating a communications plan to keep your team in touch with the client, researching risks before they can postpone your project, setting the schedule and budget then approving it, and deciding which methods, project management tools, or other similar tools you can use is mandatory when you’re outlining a project.

Finally, get your client’s approval. As the main stakeholder, a client should be aware of everything that goes on during assignments, including the resources you allocate and who’ll be in charge of completing all activities. Put as much effort as you can into creating a detailed plan to avoid additional issues.

Development and control stage

Moving on to the most important phase of any project. This is used to prepare project deliverables, monitor how your team completes all tasks, and if they come across any hurdles.

You will now get to work on activities that will all add up to complete a full project management process according to your previously created plans. Avoiding mistakes now is more imperative than ever. Project managers will need to supervise their team to keep them motivated and productive.

You can also send periodical reports to update clients on the project’s status and allow them to suggest any changes to improve the results. Have one person oversee the team’s evolution but make sure that everyone in the group is accountable for their own work.

Time and budget management is also essential. You should make sure that the most important tasks are finalized in time to avoid derailing the entire project. Also, keep some money aside for emergency situations such as an unexpected risk to prevent it from harming the project’s development.

To keep quality in check, employ an expert in quality assurance. This person can pinpoint any quality issues or lacking features that will need improvement to match the client requirements. It’s the project managers though who make sure that all things are working accordingly. They keep the project under control and fix snags and bugs on their own or by assigning co-workers.

Handover and closure stage

As the last step, you’ll need to close all client and supplier contracts. To make sure you’ve covered everything, create a checklist of everything you need to go through before sending the last results. To make sure you don’t miss out on anything, don’t rush when going through this last step.

Before celebrating the effective end of a project, gather your team to debate what you did well, what didn’t turn out as expected, and what you’ll improve for future ventures. Create an official paper that contains all the gathered project data you can use in the future. Remember that you can close a project only after the client’s product has been accepted and no additional reviews have been demanded.

Keep in mind that the team’s capability and motivation to efficiently end a project is more meaningful than any plan you’ve ever put on paper.

Try to use these steps for your next project. See how you can comply with a client’s general standards and reach your business goals faster, keeping errors at a minimum.

Alexandra Cote

Posted by Alexandra Cote on 14th May 2018

About the Author

Growth-oriented digital marketer, Content Marketer @Paymo, an intuitive end-to-end project management platform that takes away the pain of planning, scheduling, time tracking, and invoicing for freelancers and SMEs.

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