How To Manage Projects Through Their 5 Phases (Plus Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated May 13, 2022 | Published June 15, 2021

Updated May 13, 2022

Published June 15, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

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A team member presents project information during a team meeting as their colleagues listen from a conference table.

There are many factors that go into the creation and completion of a business project. One of the key components of a successful project is effective project management. With an experienced team to manage projects, it's easier to create and execute project goals and stay within the allotted budget and schedule.

In this article, we discuss what project management is, why it's important to manage projects and how to effectively manage projects through the five phases of the project life cycle, plus we review tips for managing projects better.

What is project management?

Project management is the ability to manage a project’s resources, including people, capital, equipment and technology, to achieve a project’s objectives and goals within given parameters. These parameters, or constraints, are time, budget and the project’s scope.

Why is it important to manage projects?

Projects can become costly, so having capable project management in place to help ensure a project goes according to plan is essential. Projects that are managed well are able to meet their targets, as well as account for any problems or unexpected factors that may arise. 

Project managers are expected to keep the “iron triangle” of constraints in order so the project can achieve its objectives. Projects are also often interdependent—meaning that what happens in one project will surely impact another. The constraints of cost, deadlines and scope must be properly managed or the project can collapse.

Related: 8 Qualities of a Successful Project Manager

How to manage projects and their 5 phases

Here’s an overview of the five phases of project management to help you effectively manage your next project from kickoff to launch:

1. Initiate the project

Before you can begin a project, it may be beneficial to complete a feasibility study to prove that the project is viable and can add profit to the company. The feasibility study includes items such as extensive research and data on the scope of the project, the project’s monetary and technical requirements, a proposed series of plans and actions and an evaluation of the cost-effectiveness of the project.

Once a contractor completes the feasibility study, a team of stakeholders and other relevant parties can review the study and determine if they wish to proceed. If they approve, they may discuss and establish the project’s goals, a proposed timeline of events, team management strategies and a chain of communication.

A few key aspects of the initiation phase of the project include:

  • Documentation: Document why the project is useful, what its goals are and the return on investments.

  • Team management: Create job descriptions and objectives for each position and explain how each team member can benefit the project.

  • Project space: Create a space for the project manager and support staff to work during the project.

Related: Feasibility Studies: Definition, Benefits and Types

2. Plan the project

After the stakeholders have approved the project, you can sit with your management team and list all the work you need to complete within the project’s parameters. This may include a project budget, resources and a timeline. Project planning is an essential part of the success of any project, so consider being as detailed as possible when planning.

Here are a few details to include in project planning:

  • Task list: Create a task list that includes all the smaller tasks required to complete the overall project.

  • Budget: The budget needs to be precise before the project begins, so try to include all foreseeable expenditures, such as labor and operating costs.

  • Project schedule: A project schedule has all the deadlines for a project and can help keep the project moving efficiently toward its deadline.

Related: What Is Project Planning? (With Examples)

3. Execute the project

After thoroughly planning the project, the team can carry out the tasks outlined in the plan. Before your team begins working, meet with your team to kick off the project and discuss the larger goals of the project and divide them into smaller, more achievable goals. You can set deadlines for each of the smaller goals and ensure that team members know their roles and what tasks they're responsible for completing.

Once your team decides how to proceed, they can begin working on their tasks. It may be beneficial to have semi-regular meetings with your team so you can make sure everyone is completing their duties on time, answer questions and clarify expectations or directions.

Here are a few items to consider during the project execution phase:

  • Cost management: To stay on budget, you can track the cost of all materials and labor for the project.

  • Procurement management: You might purchase or rent outside resources in order to complete the project. Having clear communication with the vendors will help you get your resources within your budget and on time.

  • Collaboration management: It's important that you have open communication so you and your team members can exchange important information about the project.

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