What is… Project Management
A Project is finite in nature and has a clear beginning and an end. A project is created with the purpose to deliver business outcomes. A project has 3 key elements referred to as the Project Triangle, these are Time; Quality and Cost.
In this section you will be able to navigate through the stages of a project – otherwise known as the project lifecycle – to help you effectively manage your projects. Depending on which project methodology you subscribe to you may see a difference in the total number of stages and their titles. Either work through the project lifecycle stage by stage, jump direct to the acronym or term or utilise our Project Calculators. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for support direct to your inbox as you and your project progresses.
The purpose of a project lifecycle is to provide a standard methodology by which tried and proven processes are repeated to deliver success….
The key stages which a projects will transition through
This is the very first step within the project lifecycle and officially it is before the project has commenced. This can be an exciting time but many struggle with ambiguity and for them this the level of uncertainty can be quite unnerving. At this point the projects status is classified as Proposed.
At this point the project has moved beyond the Proposed stage and is now classified as ‘In-Progress’. The project could however become terminated or suspended as it progresses through the stage (as is the case for all the remaining stages within the project lifecycle). The project is now under the Direct and Manage a Project management procedure.
The Define Stage is the third stage in our Project Lifecycle. Here we may look at a pilot or feasibility study to review the options. Once an option is selected this option is then fully defined with detailed planning, approach and the necessary project material is updated…
This stage is where we take our plans developed previously, adjust as necessary and develop and complete our deliverables. All while keeping our stakeholders involved.
The close stage is a final yet just as critical stage of the project. The purpose is to recognise that the activities/deliverables which the project set-out to deliver have completed and to formally approve the project closure.
Project Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Project Manager?
The project manager is the day to day lead responsible for ensuring that the project is delivered within the constraints laid out by the project steering committee (project board). Ultimately this means that they ensure the activities and deliverables are produced in-line with the project approach set out in the define stage.
A key facet of project management is “no surprises” and it is the project manager who will communicate on progress and escalate where appropriate.
What are the 5 stages of a project?
Depending on which project methodology you subscribe to – these stages may change – however, the content and activities within are similar and often aligned with the overriding principle to provide the right level of governance and structure to deliver successful projects.
What are common reasons for project failure?
See our article here for more details on each of the below:
- Lack of clear objectives
- Poor Project management discipline
- Project Manager lacks experience or capability
- Lack of customer engagement / understanding
- A loose mandate
- No connection to business strategy
- Inadequate resources
- Poor Project Planning (or worse still no planning at all)
- Measures of Success are Undefined (or no measures identified to review the success)
- Inability to track progress effectively
- Risks are poorly managed (or as with a plan not even identified)
- Stakeholders are not effectively engaged and supportive
- Inability to manage change
What are the qualities of a good project manager?
- Exhibits strengths with both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills
- Is a great leader
- Assumes ownership for the project – they don’t just send off project reports (that’s the role of project support), they seek out issues and proactively resolve them
- They create an open environment where others are encouraged to raise issues and not hide them away
- They have developed negotiation skills and not just with external suppliers, but in-house to secure the resources they require to make the project a success
- Conflict resolution – great project managers do not shy away from conflict, they have the difficult conversations where and when they need to
- Politically aware – good project managers will pick their battles and no when to step-up or ramp down pressure
- They make things happen and get the important stuff done. They have the ability to focus on what really matters and relentlessly pursue those activities
- They are able to prioritise and organise resources – includes the ability to multi-task and use of effective delegation
3 Golden Rules of Project Management
In truth there is probably more than 3 golden rules of project management. However, we find the following 3 to be the most beneficial regardless of industry or project type:
- Stakeholder Management and Communication – Open, honest and clear. Set clear expectations of the team with an open door and ensure all stakeholders are well informed. After all a project is deemed successful if measured as a success by the stakeholders
- Focus– Projects are set in place to deliver changes. Stay focused throughout to what really matters and relentlessly drive to the completion of what matters.
- No Surprises – Issues are openly evaluated and not ‘swept under the carpet’ . We actively manage our risks and escalate as and when required.