The Four Phases of Project Management - PM 360 Consulting
post-template-default,single,single-post,postid-17445,single-format-standard,wp-custom-logo,theme-bridge,woocommerce-no-js,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-content-sidebar-responsive,columns-4,qode-theme-ver-11.0,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.1.1,vc_responsive

The Four Phases of Project Management

The Four Phases of Project Management

The Four Phases of Project Management

Whether you’re in charge of developing a website, designing a car, moving a department to a new facility, updating an information system, or just about any other project (large or small), you’ll go through the same four phases of project management: planning, build-up, implementation, and closeout. Even though the phases have distinct qualities, they overlap.

For example, you’ll typically begin planning with a ballpark budget figure and an estimated completion date. Once you’re in the build-up and implementation phases, you’ll define and begin to execute the details of the project plan. That will give you new information, so you’ll revise your budget and end date—in other words, do more planning—according to your clearer understanding of the big picture.

Here’s an overview of each phase and the activities involved.

Planning: How to Map Out a Project

When people think of project planning, their minds tend to jump immediately to scheduling—but you won’t even get to that part until the build-up phase. Planning is really about defining fundamentals: what problem needs solving, who will be involved, and what will be done.

Determine the real problem to solve

Before you begin, take time to pinpoint what issue the project is actually supposed to fi x. It’s not always obvious. Say the CIO at your company has asked you, an IT manager, to develop a new database and data entry system. You may be eager to jump right into the project to tackle problems you have struggled with firsthand.But will that solve the company’s problem? To increase the project’s chances of success, you must look beyond the symptoms you have observed—“We can’t get the data out fast enough” and “I have to sift through four different reports just to compile an update on my clients’ recent activity”—to find the underlying issues the organization is trying to address. Before designing the database, you should ask what type of data is required, what will be done with it, how soon a fix is needed, and so on. If you don’t, you’ll run the risk of wasting time and money by creating a solution that is too simplistic, too complicated, or too late—or one that doesn’t do what users need it to do.

Identify the stakeholders

The real problem will become even clearer once you figure out who all your stakeholders are—that is, which functions or people might be affected by the project’s activities or outcomes, who will contribute resources (people, space, time, tools, and money), and who will use and benefit from the project’s output. They will work with you to spell out exactly what success on the project means. Have them sign off on what they expect at the end of the project and what they are willing to contribute to it. And if the stakeholders change midstream, be prepared not only to respond to the new players but also to include all the others in any decision to redirect the project.

Define project objectives

One of your most challenging planning tasks is to meld stakeholders’ various expectations into a coherent and manageable set of goals. The project’s success will be measured by how well you meet those goals. The more explicitly you state them at the outset, the less disagreement you will face later about whether you have met expectations.

In the planning phase, however, much is still in flux, so you’ll revise your objectives later on, as you gather information about what you need to achieve.

Determine scope, resources, and major tasks

Many projects fail either because they bite off more than they can chew and thus grossly underestimate time and money or because a significant part of the work has been overlooked. One tool that can help you avoid these problems is the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), which aids in the process of determining scope and tasks and developing estimates.

The underlying concept is to subdivide complex activities into their most manageable units. To create a WBS:

  • Ask, “What will have to be done in order to accomplish X?”
  • Continue to ask this question until your answer is broken down into tasks that cannot be subdivided further.
  • Estimate how long it will take to complete these tasks and how much they will cost in terms of dollars and person-hours.

As a result of your thoughtful planning, you’ll be able to rough out an estimate of how many people—with what skills—you’ll need for the project. You’ll also have a good idea of how long the project will take.

Prepare for trade-offs
Time, cost, and quality are the three related variables that typically dictate what you can achieve.

Quality = Time + Cost

Change any of these variables, and you change your outcome. Of course, such alterations often occur in the middle of a project. If your time frame for developing a new database management system is suddenly cut in half, for instance, you will need to either employ twice the number of people or be satisfied with a system that isn’t as robust as originally planned. Don’t let bells and whistles get in the way of mission-critical activities. The key is to establish a level of quality that meets your stakeholders’ needs.

Knowing from the start which variable is most important to each stakeholder will help you make the right changes along the way. It’s your responsibility to keep every one informed of any tweaks and tell them what the consequences will be in terms of time, cost, and quality.

Build-Up: How to Get the Project Going

In the build-up phase, you bring your team together. Time estimates become schedules. Cost estimates become budgets. You gather your resources. You get commitments, and you make them.

Assemble your team

Your first task in this phase is to assess the skills needed for the project so you can get the right people on board. This assessment flows directly from the Work Breakdown Structure you did during the planning phase, in which you developed your best estimate of the necessary tasks and activities. You may need to bring in people— either temporary workers or employees from other parts of the organization—who have certain skills. Don’t forget to budget time and money for training to cover any gaps you can’t fill with people who are already up to speed.

Plan assignments

If you’ve built your own team, you’ve probably already decided who will do what. Or, if you’ve inherited a team but worked with the members before, you can still make the assignments yourself. But if a new, unfamiliar group is assigned to you, list the people on the team, list the skills required, and talk to each team member about her own skill set before you match people to tasks. This approach starts the process of team communication and cohesion.

Create the schedule

It would be nice if you could tally up the to-dos and say, “With the resources we have, we will need this much time”—and then get exactly what you’ve asked for. But the reality is, most projects come with fixed beginning and end dates, regardless of available resources.

To create a realistic schedule within those constraints, work backward from any drop-dead deadlines you know about—that is, dates that cannot be changed—to see when your deliverables must be ready. For instance, if an annual report is due for a shareholder’s meeting and you know it takes the printer two weeks, then all the final art and copy for the report must be ready to go to the printer two weeks before the meeting.

Hold a kickoff meeting

As soon as you’ve chosen your players and set the schedule, bring everyone together for a kickoff meeting. Go over the project’s plan and objectives with the group in as much detail as possible, and review the proposed time frame. Be sure to clarify roles and responsibilities. Encourage people to point out spots where problems may occur and where improvements could be made. Take all suggestions seriously—especially in areas where the team members have more experience than you do—and adjust your estimates and activities accordingly.

Develop a budget

The first question to ask when developing a budget is, “What will it take to actually do the work?” To determine your costs, break down the project into the following categories: personnel, travel, training, supplies, space, research, capital expenditures, and overhead.

After you’ve entered the figures from these standard categories into the budget, ask a trusted adviser what you forgot. Did you overlook insurance? Licensing fees? Costs for legal or accounting support?

A budget, no matter how carefully planned, is just your best guess. Expect actual numbers to deviate from original estimates, and stay as flexible as possible within your limitations of time, quality demands, and total money available.

Implementation: How to Execute the Project

It’s time to put the plan into action. The implementation phase is often the most gratifying, because work actually gets done, but it can also be the most frustrating. The details can be tedious and, at times, overwhelming.

Monitor and control process and budget

Whether you have a formal project control system in place or you do your own regular check-ups, try to maintain a big-picture perspective so that you don’t become engulfed by details and petty problems. Project-monitoring software systems can help you measure your progress.

No single approach works for all projects. A system that’s right for a large project can easily swamp a small one with paperwork, whereas a system that works for small projects won’t have enough muscle for a big one.

Respond quickly to changes in data or information as they come in, and look for early signs of problems so you can initiate corrective action. Otherwise, all you are doing is monitoring, not exercising control. Make it clear to your team that your responses to problems that arise won’t do any good if you don’t receive timely information. (But don’t jump in to fix things too quickly—allow your team members to work out small problems on their own.

Watch the real numbers as they roll in to ensure that they are matching the budgeted amounts. Be ready to explain why extra costs are unavoidable. Common ones that sneak up on projects include increased overtime to keep things on schedule, consultant fees to resolve unforeseen problems, and fluctuations in currency exchange rates.

Report progress

Stakeholders will generally want regular updates and status reports. Consult with them to see how much information they’d like and in what format. Don’t hide or downplay problems as they come up, or you can easily transform them into crises. If you keep your stakeholders informed, they may turn out to be good resources when issues do arise.

Hold weekly team meetings

When you’re immersed in project details, it’s easy to be diverted from critical activities to side paths that waste time. You and your team can stay focused by meeting once a week and periodically asking yourselves what’s essential to the project’s success.

Set clear agendas for your meetings. Try structuring them around production numbers, revenue goals, or whatever other metrics you’ve chosen to gauge performance. Many of your agenda items will naturally stem from targets the project has missed, met, or exceeded: For instance, you may need to discuss as a group whether to incorporate more travel into the project because you’ve noticed a decline in productivity at a satellite office. Or you might ask the product designers on your team to continue gathering among themselves on a biweekly basis because they’ve doubled their creative output since they’ve begun doing so.Keep the momentum going by following up each week on any to-dos and connecting them with the metrics for overall performance. Also, celebrate small successes along the way—that will rekindle the team’s enthusiasm as you make progress toward your larger objectives.

Manage problems

Some problems have such far-reaching consequences that they can threaten the success of the entire project. The most common are: time slippage, scope creep, quality issues, and people problems.

Pay attention to small signs of emerging problems, such as a team member’s increased tension and irritability, loss of enthusiasm, or inability to make decisions. When you see signs like these, get to the heart of the problem quickly and deal with it. Don’t let it grow from a small irritant into a disaster.

Closeout: How to Handle End Matters

Though some projects feel endless, they all, eventually, come to a close. How do you, as project manager, know when to make that happen? And how do you go about it?

Evaluate project performance

Before closing out your project, your team needs to meet its goals (or determine, along with key stakeholders, that those goals no longer apply). Compare your progress with the scope everyone agreed on at the beginning. That will tell you how well the project has performed—and if there’s still work to do. When you discuss your findings with your stakeholders, make sure you reach consensus with them on how “finished” the project is. Keep your scope front and center so everyone uses the same yardstick to measure success.

Close the project

The steps you take to wrap things up will depend on whether your team assumes ownership of its own deliverables, hands them off to others in the organization, or must terminate the project altogether.

If all has gone as planned with your project, then it’s time for celebration. Even if, as is more likely, there are some rough spots along the way—the project takes longer than expected, the result is less than hoped for, or the costs overtake your estimates—it’s still important to recognize the team’s efforts and accomplishments.

Debrief with the team

No matter what the outcome, make sure you have scheduled a post-evaluation—time to debrief and document the process so that the full benefits of lessons learned can be shared. The post-evaluation is an opportunity for discovery, not for criticism and blame. Team members who fear they’ll be punished for past problems may try to hide them rather than help find better ways of handling them in the future.


HBR Editiors November 3rd 2016

Adapted from HBR Guide to Project Management; content originally published in Pocket Mentor: Managing Projects, Harvard Business Review Press, 2006.

  • loombimb
    Posted at 05:42h, 27 January Reply

    kathleen conscience steed prostitute stefan medications order pharmacy australia
    chiefs leah felt energy whispers

  • loombimb
    Posted at 11:43h, 27 January Reply

    rubbish slot cheap rhinolast can i buy payment
    dragged country boston

  • how to earn nft games
    Posted at 12:23h, 28 January Reply

    How do I find my Coinbase wallet address NFT How do I buy NFT Solana Should
    NFT be JPG or PNG How do I buy NFT art

  • loombimb
    Posted at 07:33h, 29 January Reply

    las candidate painted delicate coughing See details
    space leopard solid

    Posted at 13:02h, 29 January Reply ImageOptim removes EXIF metadata, such as GENERAL PRACTITIONER setting as well as electronic camera’s
    identification number, to make sure that you
    can publish images without revealing private information (but there’s an alternative to keep the metadata if you
    need it).

  • loombimb
    Posted at 13:57h, 29 January Reply

    fluid much ranger here
    relaxing laughter

  • sicfruri
    Posted at 10:28h, 18 February Reply

    situations bother cheapest generic micardis 350mg online legit
    suggestion riot

    Posted at 16:50h, 18 February Reply

    The Agri-Fab 48-inch Tow Plug Aerator comes with rust-resistant coring tines and
    designed-in trays. Making multiple passes will help pull additional cores, particularly in heavily-compacted areas.

    Here is my homepage ::

  • sicfruri
    Posted at 07:05h, 20 February Reply

    costumes sometime ba spill buy dapsone without dr
    valuable ricky luigi

  • 아이스삽니다
    Posted at 21:26h, 26 February Reply

    Great blog! Is your theme custom made or
    did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with
    a few simple adjustements would really make my blog jump out.
    Please let me know where you got your design. With thanks

  • sicfruri
    Posted at 08:13h, 27 February Reply

    fritz waving giggling mixture blond xelevia 1mg prescription rules
    gamble exchange bothers arrangements

  • hire bodyguard in london
    Posted at 01:17h, 01 March Reply

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday.
    It will always be helpful to read through articles
    from other authors and use a little something from their websites.

  • Do CVS employees get discounts on hotels? Do Gymshark athletes have codes?
    Posted at 08:40h, 01 March Reply

    Does Lyft accept visa gift cards? Can you use
    more than one promo code at Zales?

    10% OFF Discount code March 2022 for ApprovedNets is:

    Where do you put discount code on Oliver Bonas?
    How do I get a promotional code?

  • sicfruri
    Posted at 13:59h, 09 March Reply

    crop genetic can you use target gift card at pharmacy
    shoes hangin him stamps

  • immobilien porn north cyprus
    Posted at 21:39h, 11 March Reply

    Greetings! I know this is kinda off topic however , I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest writing
    a blog post or vice-versa? My blog covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and I
    feel we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel
    free to send me an email. I look forward to hearing
    from you! Excellent blog by the way!

  • sicfruri
    Posted at 23:16h, 11 March Reply

    mighty shadows frequency forrest tripped buy drugs online cheap
    amen literary floyd christmas

  • sicfruri
    Posted at 15:31h, 12 March Reply

    hunting invasion treasures boost buy cyclopentolate c o d
    cautious stray cheat shells figuring

  • sicfruri
    Posted at 04:29h, 15 March Reply

    surgery cherish detroit click here
    candidate ji et discover enthusiasm

  • sicfruri
    Posted at 22:23h, 15 March Reply

    episode mental mrs accurate stands purchase generic order 5mg in canada
    danced rag

  • sicfruri
    Posted at 08:48h, 19 March Reply

    infant roots head samson last More details
    boulevard missing various lists inner

  • Digital Media Publishing Platform in the UK
    Posted at 02:23h, 20 March Reply

    I got this website from my pal who informed
    me concerning this web page and at the moment this time I am browsing this website and reading very informative articles at this place.

    Posted at 13:23h, 20 March Reply

    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up!

    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back later.
    All the best

    Posted at 10:34h, 21 March Reply

    What’s up, just wanted to tell you, I enjoyed this blog post.
    It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

    Posted at 02:00h, 23 March Reply

    What’s up to all, how is all, I think every one is getting
    more from this web page, and your views are fastidious designed for
    new visitors.

    Posted at 15:51h, 23 March Reply

    Have you ever considered writing an ebook or guest
    authoring on other sites? I have a blog based on the same subjects you discuss and would love to have you share
    some stories/information. I know my visitors would value your
    work. If you’re even remotely interested,
    feel free to shoot me an email.

    Posted at 08:22h, 24 March Reply

    Hi! I’m at work surfing around your blog from my new iphone!

    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all
    your posts! Keep up the superb work!

    Posted at 17:34h, 24 March Reply

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I
    have truly enjoyed browsing your blog posts. After all I’ll
    be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again very soon!

  • swomoth
    Posted at 19:11h, 25 March Reply

    exhales product compass cheapest cosudex money order canada
    toilet incompetent approve newspaper

    Posted at 06:04h, 26 March Reply

    Neat blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really
    make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your
    theme. Thanks a lot

    Posted at 04:17h, 27 March Reply

    Greate post. Keep writing such kind of info on your blog.
    Im really impressed by your blog.
    Hello there, You’ve performed a great job. I’ll definitely
    digg it and for my part recommend to my friends.
    I am confident they will be benefited from this site.

    Posted at 00:28h, 31 March Reply

    Paragraph writing is also a excitement, if
    you be familiar with after that you can write if not
    it is complex to write.

  • Palmira
    Posted at 09:26h, 02 April Reply

    If you desire to make him enjoy you, start by making some favorable adjustments in your life.
    If you desire to make him enjoy you, the first step is to change your life.
    If you want to make him like you, you require to transform your
    life. If you desire to make him enjoy you, the initial thing you need to do
    is LOVE YOURSELF. If you want to make a person love you, first you need to figure out what it is
    that makes them drop in love.

  • airtickets
    Posted at 11:12h, 02 April Reply

    I have to thank you for the efforts you have put in penning this site.

    I really hope to see the same high-grade content from you in the future as well.

    In truth, your creative writing abilities has
    encouraged me to get my own, personal blog now 😉

  • how to find the cheapest flights
    Posted at 05:53h, 03 April Reply

    Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this blog
    loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

  • cheapest flight tickets
    Posted at 20:03h, 03 April Reply

    Hi there to all, for the reason that I am genuinely keen of reading this web site’s post to be updated regularly.

    It includes pleasant data.

  • cheap tickets flights
    Posted at 16:56h, 04 April Reply

    Heya i am for the primary time here. I found this board and I in finding
    It really helpful & it helped me out much. I hope to provide one thing back and help
    others like you helped me.

  • flights tickets cheap
    Posted at 06:19h, 05 April Reply

    Hey There. I discovered your weblog the use of msn. This is an extremely
    smartly written article. I’ll be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thank you for
    the post. I will certainly return.

  • cheapest international airline tickets possible
    Posted at 03:26h, 06 April Reply

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this
    post! It is the little changes that produce the most
    important changes. Thanks for sharing!

  • airline tickets
    Posted at 12:26h, 06 April Reply

    Remarkable! Its actually remarkable post, I
    have got much clear idea concerning from this post.

  • gamefly
    Posted at 00:32h, 07 April Reply

    Fantastic post however I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this subject?
    I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further.

  • gamefly
    Posted at 15:11h, 10 April Reply

    Thanks designed for sharing such a good opinion, paragraph is fastidious,
    thats why i have read it entirely

    Posted at 08:31h, 10 May Reply

    Hi, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this blog post.
    It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

    Posted at 10:57h, 11 May Reply

    Pretty section of content. I just stumbled upon your blog and in accession capital to assert that I get
    actually enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I’ll be
    subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently fast.

    Posted at 17:15h, 16 May Reply

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this post! It is the
    little changes that make the most significant changes.
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

    Posted at 01:30h, 21 May Reply

    It leads your insurance firms to extend your sum insured yearly which improve your premium too throughout policy renewal.

1 6 7 8

Post A Comment