One of the most prominent characteristic of a project as a concept, is its sharp delimitation in time. It has clear start and end dates and is designed to achieve a unique scope, unlike the ongoing operations specific for business management.
Sometimes, the end date of a project is the most important characteristic of the project. It is the starting point when designing the project deployment, any other characteristic being subordinated to this. In fact using a project management software allows a project manager to add a higher level of transparency regarding the interaction between various factors that interact when developing a project. Keeping some of this variables constant (like the end date of a project), allows to the project managers to determine and control the others (like cost or scope of the project).
Because of it’s very limited nature, a project duration can be clearly divided into five main phases. In the following observations we will presume that the client has clear expectations regarding the project and knows decently well what results he needs. The five main phases of a project are the following:
In the defining stage an important aspect is to speak with the people who are affected or exert influence over the project evolution. These people are referred to as the stakeholders. Getting their feedback will help you outline the project activities. This is commonly known as the scope (the work that should be done). It is equally important to write down both what will and will not be achieved. You want to make sure you know what the stakeholders are expecting. In this phase the aims and objectives are set, including the development of project deliverables and the desired outcomes of a specific set of activities.
The planning stage presumes breaking the deliverables into subdeliverables down to a level where activities can be outlined. Subsequently can be defined the relations between tasks and their timeline for completion. An important aspect of this stage is defining the requirements for completion of the project, stipulating the needed resources as well as any other requirements deemed necessary. The risks and project constraints are identified and contingency plans originated to address any of these potential issues.
The execution phase takes the major part of the project. Here is most likely that surprises and conflicts to occur and sometimes corrective actions should be taken in order to bring the expected performance in accordance with the project plan. Project manager is responsible for coordinating individuals and make them acting like members of the same team.
As the work begins, the next stage of controlling the project defines the success or failure of a project manager, as the constant surveillance and adaption of project plan are required to reflect the progression of involved activities. A project manager should take advantage of the methodologies and software available on the market. A large number of them are available online.
In the project closure stage, the team will be pulled together to analyze project performance and outline the learned lessons.
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