Project management is often misunderstood. While many professionals see it as managing project schedules, it involves much more. The good news is that we’ve put together an easy guide to understanding the five steps of project management.
Why is it important to know the five steps? Understanding the project management lifecycle will help you implement better internal processes with the help of project management software.
This five-step model was defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the PMBOK® Project Lifecycle Guide, also known as the Project Management Body of Knowledge. The PMBOK® Guide is a great reference material for all professionals looking to increase their knowledge and skills in project management.
Let’s start with a quick introduction to the various stages of project management. If you prefer, proceed to the project management triangle.
1. Project start
In the beginning stage of this management model, the project is defined in general terms. This is the time to identify sponsors and participants and begin the first research phase. It’s also a good idea to document the project in writing so you can easily distribute the communication plan to the rest of the team. Many teams start a project with a project kick-off meeting or a feasibility study. The kick-off, however, depends on your team’s preferred communication style.
In addition to presenting the initial project idea, you must outline the benefits, cost, and risk factors associated with the project’s deliverables. You can also determine other metrics depending on how your organization measures success.
After evaluating the project, you will create a business case or, in the case of small projects, a project charter. These resources can help you map out and present your project in depth, incorporating details such as goals, budget, and project schedule. Either of the two features is particularly useful for later consultation and for quickly identifying project objectives throughout the process.
Here’s an example of what could be included in a business case or project charter.
Company name: Apollo Enterprises
Project name: Manual of goals, objectives and main results
Project manager: Kabir Madan
Purpose: The report aims to increase lead generation by offering top-notch resources to our clientele.
Participants: Daniela Vargas, Kat Mooney, Ray Brooks.
Schedule: June 1st to July 20th, 2021.
Benefits: adapting a new competitive advantage, creating a new lead funnel, and ultimately achieving a high return on investment given the low project budget.
Risks: While we see more benefits than risks, we may attract ineligible leads who will not convert.
Read: Beginner’s Guide to Writing an Effective Business Case
2. Project planning
In the planning stage of project management, you will create clear goals using a project roadmap. While there are many ways to do goal planning, we’ll introduce SMART, CLEAR, and objectives and key results (OKR) planning strategies that can help you get started.
The acronym SMART refers to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Many teams use this method because of its ability to improve team communication, define a clear roadmap, and result in trackable metrics.
The acronym CLEAR refers to goals that are Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, and Refinable. Many teams choose this method as it is a little more realistic to put into practice and focuses on collaboration.
The objectives and main results method differs most significantly from the other two. It can expose the goals to the entire company, creating visibility across the organization. Instead of starting with a project and then defining the goal, this method starts with the goal and then builds projects around it. Learn more about managing goals and key results to determine if this method is right for your organization.