Processes Used In Project Management

Managing projects can be difficult and complicated. Understanding how to do so, however, is easier when the subject is broken down into its component processes. No matter what a project involves, it will almost always consist of the same five stages: initiating, planning and design, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. The use of the term “stages” should not necessarily be understood to imply a strict chronological order, as sometimes it might be required to move back and forth between the stages.

Let us look at each of these stages in more detail so that they are easier to understand.

Initiating

In this stage, the project’s nature and scope are settled upon. The key questions to be addressed during initiation are: What business needs will this project attend to? How will the project fit in with current operations? What type of budget can be allotted to the project? How will the various stakeholders (e.g., management, employees, customers) be affected by the project? What are the estimated costs and resources required, and what timetable is needed to complete the project? The initiating stage is anything but a formality: carelessness here can doom a project before it even gets off the ground.

Planning and Design

Building on the decisions made in the initiating stage, the project is now planned in more detail. A planning team determines what the project’s deliverable will be, and then design activities to achieve them. Detailed resource and budgetary requirements and schedules are developed for these activities. The potential of risk must also be factored in as well, since anyone with experience in a project can confirm that “the best laid plans of mice and men oft go awry.”

Executing

This stage is the heart of the project, though it is the easiest to describe: the activities decided upon in the planning stage are carried out, and the project team produces the deliverables.

Monitoring and Controlling

In this stage, which should typically happen at the same time as the executing stage, the project’s progress is carefully monitored. Three questions must be kept in mind: What are currently doing? What does the schedule say we should be doing? If we are not on track, how can we rectify that? In other words, those in charge of monitoring and controlling must consider the project’s past, present, and future in relation to one another. Many projects, such as software, also require continued support of the project in the form of customer service and timely updates to address issues.

Closing

In this stage, all the contracts related to the project are closed, and all activities are formally finalized. Only when all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s crossed can the project be truly said to have come to a successful conclusion.