Project Management Processes and Why They’re Important

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated September 10, 2021 | Published February 8, 2021

Updated September 10, 2021

Published February 8, 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.

Project management is the complete process of organizing, overseeing and delivering a project. Because this can be a complex process, it's best understood when divided into phases. Whether you are working on a small or large project, understanding the phases of managing a project can help you effectively manage the deliverables and the team completing the tasks. In this article, we'll discuss the project management phases and learn what each of these phases entails.

Five project management phases

The project management life cycle has five phases, including the initiation phase, planning phase, execution phase, monitoring phase and closure phase. Here's a closer look at each phase of project management:

Conception and initiation phase

This is where you determine the importance of the project and the client's requirements. This also where you find out whether the company has the necessary resources to successfully deliver the project. Here are the steps to initiate your project:

  1. Determine the scope of your project. Clearly define what the final result or product should look like so that your team members have a clear vision of what they need to achieve.

  2. Identify deliverables. Deliverables are small milestones. If the goal of the project is to manufacture 100 cars, for example, divide it into small deliverables. These deliverables might include completing exterior assembly, installing the seats and attaching the wheels.

  3. Identify project stakeholders. Determine who needs to be involved in the project and what resources or direction they will need from you.

  4. Come up with a business case. A business case involves an assessment of risks, benefits, costs, technical solutions and timelines associated with the project. These assessments can help you determine if the project is feasible and worthwhile.

  5. Develop a statement of work. A statement of work is a document that defines and captures all aspects of the project. You'll note the timetable, deliverables and activities for the project. This detailed document will lay the groundwork for your project plan.

Related: Understanding the Project Management Processes and Phases

Planning phase

The planning phase tells everyone involved in the project what the goals are and how you are going to accomplish them. This is where you document the project plans and create the project schedule. Here are the steps to effectively carry out the planning phase:

  1. Create a project plan. Identify the project timeline, including the project's phases, the tasks your team needs to perform and the possible constraints. Make sure your project plan is specific, measurable and time-sensitive so that the team working on it can perform their tasks efficiently and quickly.

  2. Create workflow diagrams. Visualize your processes using a flowchart to make sure stakeholders and team members clearly understand their role in the project.

  3. Estimate budget. To estimate the budget, identify all types of expenses that the project may incur from start to finish, including labor, equipment and materials.

  4. Set key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are measurement tools for determining how well teams are meeting specific goals. Examples of KPIs include project deliverables, labor costs per month and resource allocation.

Related: How to Create a Project Management Plan

3. Execution phase

The execution phase puts your plan into action. It's usually the longest phase in the project management life cycle. If you are the project manager, your job in this phase is to organize team members, manage timelines and ensure deliverable completion. Here are the steps to navigate the project execution phase:

  1. Schedule a kick-off meeting. Because the execution phase is a transition from planning to implementing, a kick-off meeting can align everyone involved in the project toward the project deliverables and key outcomes.

  2. Manage teams. Form a team whose members have the relevant skills to handle the project tasks. You also need to ensure that your team has the right technical and interpersonal skills to do the job. If conflicts arise, you can intervene and facilitate a solution.

  3. Follow processes. Make sure that each team member is working in accordance with any policies or processes in the project plan and statement of work.

  4. Disseminate information. Communicate status updates to team members and stakeholders. You may pre-determine specific stages at which you plan to provide updates to make sure you're informing others with appropriate frequency.

Related: How to Create a Project Management Plan

4. Monitoring phase

As the project unfolds, it's advisable to make efforts to monitor its progress. To do this, you can follow these steps:

  1. Report key performance indicators (KPIs). Reviewing your KPIs can help you determine if your team is working effectively. If your KPIs indicate slow progress, you can speak with team members and adjust the project plan accordingly.

  2. Keep track of scope. In some cases, the client may change their mind about the scope of the project after you have started the work. If this happens, you'll want to determine if you can accommodate increased project scope within the original budget and timeline. If not, return to the planning phase to clarify expectations, new roles and responsibilities.

  3. Control costs. Controlling costs is an important part of successful project management, so you'll want to consistently and clearly track updates to your projected budget.

  4. Control quality. This ensures the project deliverables will meet the expectations of the clients. Review quality-related processes and KPIs periodically to ensure you are on track to meet your project's objectives.

  5. Facilitate stakeholder communication. Effective project monitoring requires keeping everyone informed. Regular meetings with team members, clients and other stakeholders can help prevent missed deadlines and misunderstandings.

Related: How to Set and Track Project Milestones

5. Closing phase

Also known as the completion phase, the closing phase focuses on the end result of the project. This stage gives you, your team and clients an opportunity to assess how successful the project was and what lessons you learned during the process. Here are the steps to successfully carry out the closing phase:

  1. Formally transfer all deliverables. The first step to closing out the project is to transfer the project deliverables to the customer. Obtain approvals for the project deliverables with official sign-offs from the project stakeholders, and document this step for your records.

  2. Review all documentation and contracts. After you complete the project, review all the documentation to make sure that you have paid all parties for the work and that there are no remaining balances.

  3. Release stakeholders. When team members, contractors, suppliers and any other stakeholders complete their final project tasks, you can release them from the project team. Inform them of the end of the project, confirm any obligations and officially end their contract so they're free to work on other projects.

  4. Conduct a project review. Review the challenges, failures and successes of the project and determine opportunities for improvement going forward. Calculate the project's performance in terms of quality, schedule and cost. It may be useful to schedule a review meeting with stakeholders so they have an opportunity to provide their feedback.

  5. Archive documentation. Once you have completed the project review, you can finalize all documents and index them for later reference. Keep clear notes on project performance and improvement opportunities so you can easily reference them in the future.

Explore more articles