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Project Management Best Practices / Life Cycles

Project management focuses on planning and organizing a project and its resources. This includes identifying and managing the appropriate lifecycle, determining the project team, and providing proper guidance until project completion.

Project Management Value

Effective project management ensures an organization maintains its vision and reaches its goals. It also defines team member responsibilities, deliverables, and schedules for optimal efficiency and reduced risk.

Building a Productive Team

The size of your team and their roles depends on the scope of your project. Regardless of team size, a good project manager defines collaboration and communication needs.

For instance, it is important to know whether formal or informal meetings suit the project, how often team members will meet, and whether meetings will be held in-person, virtually, or both.

Other important considerations include how members will safely store, share, and update documents. The team must also understand the project workflow for decisions and approvals.

Project Life Cycles

A project life cycle is a systematic, controlled process from project start until end. It defines which deliverables the project must generate, who’s involved, and the controls and approval process as the life cycle progresses.

Typically, a project’s life cycle is divided into five distinct phases: conception and initiation, planning, execution, performance/monitoring, and project close.

Phase 1: Project Conception & Initiation

This phase defines the project at a very broad level. The organization researches feasibility and whether major stakeholders agree the project makes sense for their business and organizational vision.

If everyone deems it worthwhile, the organization prepares a project initiation document (PID). This document outlines the purpose and requirements of the project, stakeholders, and the business case.

Phase 2: Project Planning

The planning phase creates a road map for everyone to follow. It includes defining goals and the scope of the project, identifying potential risks, and developing a project management plan.

The project management plan identifies available resources, costs, and the timetable and milestones for the project. The project manager also defines key performance indicators to measure performance and progress, with the plan serving as a performance benchmark.

During the planning phase roles, responsibilities, and accountability are also established as well as communication protocols.

Phase 3: Project Execution

This phase usually starts with a team meeting where members learn their tasks, responsibilities, expected deliverables, and the resources at their disposal.

They follow the project management plan, under the watchful eye of the project manager. The project manager may call status meetings, update the project schedule, and modify plans, as needed.

Phase 4: Project Monitoring & Performance

Using the previously established key performance indicators (KPIs), the project manager assesses the project’s progress.

They look at whether the project is on schedule and budget to meet stakeholder objectives and the completion date. They also review whether team members are providing the deliverables expected and may adjust resources and schedules to keep the project on track.

Phase 5: Project Closure

Once a project is complete, the project manager usually calls a meeting called a “post mortem”. The principal reason for the meeting is to thank team members for their efforts and to evaluate the successes and failures of the project. These lessons can help the organization understand how they can improve future projects.

The project manager also pinpoints uncompleted tasks and ensures team members attend to them. They also collect project documents and deliverables for storage in a central location. Lastly, they prepare the final project report and financials for stakeholder review.

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