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The Five Vital Project Management Phases

Products don’t just fall from the sky and services aren’t handed to us on a silver platter. Although that would be amazing, it would also literally put almost everybody out of a job. Instead, we have businesses who rely on teams and managers who are involved in making sure tasks are completed well on time and within budget. This requires considering each step of the five of the project management phases.

Enter the holy grail of any company: the “project”. Often looked after by a proficient project management expert, a project stands to ensure that the right tasks are done in the right phases so that, by the end of the project, the company can boast a successful product or service. Every business has a project and every project has five different project management phases in its life cycle.

The Life Cycle of a Project

There are five in the project management phase cycle make up a project’s life. This includes everything from the first seeds of the project to the full-grown completion. The key thing to remember in a project is to go in armed with a strategy in place, but one which can be modified at each phase if the need arises.

What are the Project Management Phases?

Project management phases number 1: Project Initiation

The very first part of any project is arguably the most important phase. It is crucial for a project’s life cycle that it begins well.
The project initiation phase involves several fundamental steps in starting the project. This includes defining the key objectives, scope, and aim of the project. The purpose of the project must be clearly laid out. Any research that can be done to ensure success should be done at the beginning so that all involved can be armed with the best knowledge and skills before implementing any strategies. The initiation phase also introduces the project team and project manager for the project.

Phase 2: Project planning

While the initiation phase is important for setting up the project, the planning phase helps to set the pace moving into the project’s implementation.

In this phase more exact details of the project are drawn up, with listed processes, requirements and clear goals are set. This is one of the most difficult phases for a project manager to fully develop, as a person cannot plan for every single outcome and there might be issues which arise later in the project. Should that happen, the project manager should be able to problem-solve and deal with the issue while not stalling the project; maintaining a forward progression unless it’s not possible.

In project planning the project’s resources, such as funding, personnel, and equipment are allocated and the project manager works on a schedule to ensure optimal efficiency and inclusive, reasonable delegation.

After the planning phase, the team members should know exactly what is expected in terms of deliverables and deadlines and how to move forward in achieving their tasks.

Phase 3: Project Execution

This is the first phase in which the project’s wheels are set in motion officially. Where the planning phase was the groundwork, the execution is the workings of the project.

During this phase, the team makes use of the allocated resources, schedules and preparations and all tasks that have been assigned start to be completed.

In this phase, it is important that the project manager keeps in constant communication with the team to ensure that the project goes off without any unnecessary hitches and to offer maximum support to the project team.

Phase 4: Performance monitoring

Project monitoring is also known as tracking the performance of a project. This refers to monitoring how the team members are doing and whether they are able to execute their tasks with the given resources. In this phase, the project manager also keeps track of the budget and whether everything on a financial front is following its course in the best manner possible.

This phase is important to establish what is working and what needs to change. It’s also important to know whether any resources are going to waste. If project monitoring is done well, it could lead to a more stable process in projects to follow, and the team could start to work like a well-oiled machine.

Project management phases 5: Project Closure

The project closure phase is the end-game of any project. In this phase, any products go live or deliverables are handed to the client. This is the wrapping up of the project, where tasks are completed and the reviewing begins; allowing the project manager to evaluate and process what worked excellently and what could have been done better.

Once feedback is given from any team members, the project manager can reflect on it and start to implement new techniques into the next project.

How do I get a project management promotion?

how to get a promotion in project management

Although the fundamental concept of project management is similar across industries, the role of a project manager can take different forms. The career path leading to various project management positions might look different for each individual.

Certain career paths and skills can gear a person towards a position in project management more often than others. For example, if you are an assistant manager and have exceptional delegation skills, you are more likely to take up a position of a project manager in a company than a person who has no interest in heading up a team.

Several positions are suited to mould individuals to become successful project managers. The most common path to take a person from a company employee to senior project manager is simple in principle. Before looking at what it takes to move up in the ranks, it is a good idea to know what a project manager is.

What are the types of project management positions?

Project team member

Before getting into a role of management, a person is a part of the team and has general responsibilities for the project at hand. In any project, the team members are crucial for success.

Project manager coordinator

The entry-level position for a project manager consists of general administration and minor delegation. The project manager coordinator is usually tasked with relaying information and doing behind-the-scenes operational management, such as tending to the calendar, reports, and reviews of a project.

Project management assistant

Similar to the project management coordinator, the project management assistant is involved in administrative procedures. The person in this role can be the assistant to the junior or senior project manager, but this is not always the case. The project management assistant could be the go-to figure in assisting with human relations, client communication, and project budget. Consistent and constructive feedback to the project management head is critical in this role.

Junior project manager

The junior project manager has a more hands-on position of management than the assistant project manager. The team members will look to the junior project manager for guidance and instruction and the senior project manager will expect the junior project manager to handle either small projects entirely, or small aspects of a larger project.

Senior project manager

An individual with a great deal of project management experience can become a company’s senior project manager. There is a huge amount of responsibility on the person in this position as they might oversee multiple and important projects at once. This requires proficient time-management and key delegation skills.

The project management career path

The most common career path for a project manager involves most of these positions. The move from team member to project manager coordinator is an important step for a person to break into the project management field.

The entry-level position can look different for different fields, such as in architecture, a young technical analyst could step into a position of management and find themselves a senior project manager in years to come. In all fields, the progression from member to manager can happen in many ways, but generally includes a promotion and a raise. For a project team member to be considered for a position of management, certain skills are needed.

What skills do project managers need?

Essential skills for project management are:

  • Leadership – A project manager needs to know how to head up a team of individuals in such a way that the team strives to do their best in their given task.
  • Communication – “Communication is key” is not just a fun catch-phrase. Communicating a message clearly is a fundamental skill that any project manager needs to possess to ensure the success of a project.
  • Delegation – For a project manager to see a project fulfilled in time and within the allocated budget, it is important that they tap into their human resources. Micro-managing results in frustrated team members and burnt out managers. Delegating duties to the correct team member to complete will assist in a completed project and a satisfied task-force.
  • Time and budget-management – A project manager needs to know how to prioritise time and money so that tasks get done timeously.
  • Problem-solving – Not everything runs smoothly all the time. And that’s okay; but only if the project manager is able to resolve issues efficiently and constructively.
  • If you display any of these traits as a team member, then you are more likely to be considered for a project management position than those who do not take the opportunities to develop these skills.

    How do I better my project management skills?

    If you are wanting to become a project manager, or to rank up in position, then it is a good idea to equip yourself with resources to better your skills. These can be soft skills learnt through work experience or can be honed by doing a relevant degree in organisation or project management, or by taking a project management short course.

    Finally, don’t be afraid to show initiative where it might be needed, or to put yourself out there. Risk-taking is a part of project management too.

What is a project manager?

what is a project manager

In order for any type of business to run operations smoothly, project management is needed to oversee tasks and ensure that projects are being performed with efficiency and competence. Any successful project manager is skilled at delegating duties to the right team member, ensuring that tasks are running on time, and maintaining roles within an allocated budget.

In a nutshell, the project manager acts as an overseer for the team, budget, time, and organisation of a project in a company.

Project manager skills

Before considering how to become a project manager, it is important to consider the skills you have – and can hone – for the career.

For any project to excel, a project manager must have:

1. Administrative abilities,
2. Competence in communication,
3. Proficiency working under pressure,
4. Dexterity in delegation, and
5. A talent in time management.

It is also vitally important for a project manager to be:

1. A guru at guiding a team;
2. Accessible, available, and approachable. The enemy of success is a manager to whom a team member can’t talk.

How to become a project manager

So you know what the basics of project management are; but knowing what a project manager does and becoming a project manager – and a great one at that – are totally different things.

Like anything, the ‘hard-work and dedication’ approach will put you on the right path of becoming a great project manager. Before that, however, it’s a good idea to make sure the career is the right one for you. You can find this out in a number of ways.

Do your research

First, find out what being a project manager practically entails. This means the nitty-gritty, real-life part of the job. You can do this through reading about the day-to-day life of a project manager, chatting to people in the field, or asking a project manager pressing questions you might have.

Take an online short course in project management

You don’t necessarily need to do a full degree to get the practical, theoretical and technical elements required to become a great project manager. A short course is the perfect way to test the project management waters without having to dive into the career, and if you are already a project manager looking to better yourself, a short course is just what you need to equip you with the right skills to bring you up to the A-game that you and your projects deserve.

Get practical experience

By managing any project, whether it is a small task within your department or a group project in university, you gain hands-on experience in project management. You can show an important leadership ability if you are able to identify the need for project management and then to put things into place to make sure the task is completed well.

Learn how to use the right tools at the right time

While personable management skills are essential, the “soft skills” only make up half of what is needed for optimal project management. Skills from the technical side, such as software developed to assist managers and teams with projects, are just as important to explore a project, execute it with excellence, and exceed expectations.

Tools created to help with budgeting, communication, scheduling, and delegation are at your fingertips, and there are enough resources to learn the tricks of the trade online. It’s also a great bonus to add “this amazing tech skill” to your resume.

How to actually become a project manager

Odds are, if you’ve managed projects, you’ve already started stepping into the role. The next step is to make it ‘official’. Put yourself out there and get some real-life experience as a bona-fide project manager; apply for an internship, send out your suitable resume (don’t forget to add your experience and short courses!), and take the job market by storm. The world might not be ready, but you sure as heck are.