Project Management 101 – What is a Project ?

Neil Miller

Neil Miller

Project Management

what is a project

What is a project?

A project is defined as a sequence of tasks that must be completed to attain a certain outcome. According to the Project Management Institute, the term Project refers to ” to any temporary endeavor with a definite beginning and end.” Depending on its complexity, it can be managed by a single person or hundreds.

Five phases of the project lifecycle

Often, projects are divided into five phases each of which comes with a distinct set of tasks, objectives and a particular deadline. Dividing a project into different phases enables teams to stay on track throughout its entire lifecycle.

1. Initiation

The first phase in a project’s lifecycle is called initiation. Here, a project officially launches. It is named, and a broad plan is defined. Goals are identified, along with the project’s constraints, risks, and shareholders. At this point, shareholders decide if they want to commit to the project.

Depending on the project, studies may be conducted to identify its feasibility. For IT projects, requirements are usually gathered and analyzed during the initiation phase.

2. Planning

A roadmap that will guide teams from creating a project plan throughout the project’s execution and closure phases is developed comprehensively during the planning stage. Deadlines must be set, and resources must be allotted. Breaking down tasks into smaller, manageable activities makes it easier to manage risks, costs, quality, time, and so on.

At the same time, breaking down tasks into digestible pieces will empower everyone involved to accomplish the project on time and stay within budget.

3. Execution

The project plan is implemented during the execution phase. At this point, teams will work on the deliverables to ensure that the project meets the necessary requirements.

Everyone usually gathers for a meeting to mark the official start of the project, where teams can get acquainted with each other and discuss their roles in the success of the project. Modes of communication and tools are identified before the project plan is executed.

In addition, team members familiarize themselves with the necessary status meetings and reports that will be conducted throughout this phase to collect project metrics. The execution phase is a critical point in a project’s lifecycle as it will help everyone determine if their efforts will ultimately be fruitful or not.

4. Monitoring and Controlling

The monitoring and controlling phase happens at the same time as the execution phase. It’s the job of the project manager to oversee operations and make sure that everything is headed in the right direction, according to plan.

Aside from overseeing the project’s performance, project managers have to monitor resources, manage risks, head status meetings, and reports, etc. If unforeseen issues arise, the project manager may have to make adjustments to the plans, as well as the schedule.

5. Closing

The final phase of the project management lifecycle isn’t as simple as delivering the output itself. Project managers have to record all deliverables, organize documents in a centralized location, and hand over the project to the client or the team responsible for overseeing its operations. Not only that, teams may come together for a final meeting to discuss the insights they’ve learned and to reward the hard work of each member.

Limitations of Project

Projects have limitations in terms of

All of these constraints depend on what the project aims to achieve and when. The outcome of a project results in deliverables. Anything that’s produced during the project’s development such as documents, plans, and reports are considered a deliverable. A deliverable may also be the result of the project itself.

Having a final deliverable, as well as a finite timespan, distinguishes project management from business-as-usual operations. Since projects are unlike routine operations, most people involved are those who usually don’t work together.

Sometimes, the professionals involved will come from different organizations and geographies. If the desired outcome is achieved on-time and within budget, a project is considered to be a success.

How project management principles can help manage projects

Projects can be very complex undertakings that require a huge amount of effort and resources. No matter what the goal is, using the principles of project management will help the initiative run smoothly. Without proper project management principles, projects will be handled haphazardly and are at a much higher risk of project failure, delay and being over budget.

Knowing the fundamentals of project management improves one’s chances of completing a project successfully. No matter what industry or niche an organization is in, project management methodologies and frameworks enable them to steer the project in the right direction.