Knowing how to manage and stay on top of projects can help organizations function better, utilize resources more efficiently, and deliver results without compromising on quality.
If you’re new to the Project Management world or simply curious to learn what it takes to deliver projects successfully, this guide is a great place to start.
A project is a series of tasks that need to be completed to accomplish a singular goal. It involves people, tools, and specific knowledge to deliver something that’s valuable to an individual or organization. Constructing a building, developing a particular software, and onboarding a new client are all examples of projects.
Every project has a schedule and it’s broken down into phases, that are further broken down into individual tasks. Projects also have ‘deliverables’ which refers to the results of a particular phase of the project or the final result of the project itself.
The process of planning and organizing the resources required for the completion of a project is called Project Management.
This is usually overseen by a Project Manager who helps in:
Projects are often complex and involve a number of different stakeholders. Therefore, managing a project becomes just as important as the project itself to make sure everything is delivered according to a certain standard, budget, and schedule.
Besides, project management practices help everyone on the team gain an accurate understanding of the priorities and objectives of the project. It helps the team set realistic and achievable goals, and come up with a project plan that takes into account all the constraints involved such as people’s availability, time, and budget. It also ensures efficient resource utilization while still maintaining a quality standard.
Project management is all about leading your team (and your clients) to achieve the collective goals you’ve established at the beginning of a project. Regardless of the type of project you’re managing or the industry you represent, the activities involved in effective project management are the same.
There are six mission-critical activities involved in the project management journey to determine how successful your project will be.
In the following sections, we’ll discuss these six activities (or phases), and in the end, explore how a project management platform can help you stay on top of all these activities without much effort.
The purpose of the initiation phase is to understand the full scope of the project you’ll be managing. It usually begins with a kickoff meeting with your client to understand their requirements and expectations. Here’s a guide to planning and preparing for a great project kickoff meeting.
This is the time to listen and mull over the tiny details of your project to ensure nobody’s disappointed later on. Try not to postpone discussing anything that’s on your mind. It might be easy to tell your clients (or vice versa) that you’ll figure it out during the execution stage. But if you want to cruise along and avoid any major bumps along the way, it’s better to discuss and iron out every little detail of your project upfront.
Once you’re done going over all the details, it’s now time to plan and list out all the major and minor tasks involved in the project. Think in terms of what needs to be done to achieve the project’s outcomes and who’s responsible for achieving them.
Specifically, list out every single item, assign each one to a specific person involved in the project, and set timelines for achieving them. Make sure you account for any roadblocks that you might encounter along the way and set timelines accordingly.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are another thing to consider at this stage. Timelines, budget, quality, and effectiveness are the four major categories of KPIs to measure.
How you and your clients will be communicating during the project period is another thing to plan for, as it enables smoother execution later on. Here’s a guide that will help you create a solid communication plan.
The implementation phase is when your team begins to execute everything discussed and agreed upon in the planning phase. It involves proper allocation and management of all your resources, such as budget and members on your team.
Some of the activities in this phase include:
The monitoring phase is all about measuring and assessing the performance made by every member on the project and making sure everything’s under control.
Some of the activities in this phase include:
The progress can be measured against the KPIs established in the planning stage.
These factors can be measured against the estimates made in the planning phase, and corrective measures could be adopted if there are overruns.
If any tasks/activities are running late, or if any member on the team is overburdened with responsibilities, now’s the time to quickly course-correct and get the project back on track.
One way to do this is to schedule periodical reviews after every major milestone to quickly reflect on what’s being done and make necessary adjustments.
The closing phase marks the end of the project. It consists of administrative formalities such as settling contracts or resolving any pending items in the project.
The project review also happens during the closing phase. Many leaders tend to take this vital phase lightly or ignore it altogether. But conducting a review with your team is an excellent opportunity for everyone to reflect on the project. You could analyze all the things your team did well, activities that could have been handled better, and lessons you’ve learned that can be applied to future projects.
Although traditional project management activities typically only involve the five phases mentioned above, we have an important sixth activity we’d like to include: templatizing.
Templatizing is the process of creating a playbook comprising all the tasks/phases/milestones involved in the project so that you can save time, energy, and money on future projects. This is typically done using a project management tool that has templating capabilities.
Let’s say a future client has a similar project request. Having a template ready allows you to get a project up and running in no time. Even if some of the phases are different, you can retain elements from the template you’ve made and save a lot of time and effort.
For instance, Rocketlane’s templates are like building blocks. You can choose parts (blocks) of any project template you’ve made and assemble an entirely new project plan using our Merge Templates feature. Or simply have one master project plan as a template and personalize it for every client using conditional logic. It’s pretty nifty, and you’ll save a ton of time.
We hope you found this guide useful. Please feel free to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need more help or require tools to run your projects smoothly. We’d be happy to help!
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