Managing a project, right from its initiation to completion is the job of project managers. It is their responsibility to keep a check at every stage of the project so that it goes on smoothly without any hindrance. Project management life cycle is a tool that can be used by managers to tackle the intricacies associated with project handling without any error. It is a detailed study of the various stages in a project to develop a clear picture about how to move from one level to the other and achieve desired results. The objectives behind project management are:
- To ensure project delivery on or before the scheduled date.
- To monitor expenses and ensure project delivery without crossing the set budget.
- To find ways for process improvement through collaboration of various teams working on the project.
- To deliver the project with minimum errors and high quality using appropriate risk management techniques and process controls.
- To ensure proper communication and maintain oversight.
Project Management Life Cycle
This cycle is divide into four basic stages with an additional fifth step of monitoring and control. Following paragraphs deal with each stage, in order of their occurrence in the life cycle.
This is the first step in project management. This step basically involves study of the nature and scope of business that is dealt within the project. Study of the business environment helps in identifying the relevance of the project in the market. It is at this stage, when necessary process controls are set and identification of difficulties that may arise during the project is done. Methods of controlling these difficulties are also determined during this stage. Project initiation stage includes the following steps:
- Developing business plan
- Analyzing project requirements
- Studying project feasibility
- Set up a budget
- Appointing project manager and project team
This stage involves detailed planning of the project. If this stage is not carried out properly, it may lead to failure of project completion. It involves setting up a time frame to complete the project, detailed budgeting, arrangement of project resources, analysis of manpower required to complete the project in its stipulated time frame and setting up means for risk aversion. The project team is also made aware of their roles and responsibilities during the project cycle. Project planning stage includes:
- Establishing a project plan
- Creating specific plans for finance, resources, risk aversion, quality management, communication and procurement of materials.
Once all the planning is done, the next stage in the life cycle is the execution stage wherein the deliverables are actually met. This stage involves coordination of people and utilization of resources to achieve the targets as per the project plan. The project manager checks whether his methodologies are working out well for the project or no. If not, he makes changes accordingly to avoid any disruption in the project. Project Execution stage involves:
- Managing procurement
- Performing activities as per the project plan
- Achieving deliverables
Project Monitoring and Control
This stage involves monitoring processes going on in the project and controlling them in case of process error so that errors can be minimized, and quality is maintained throughout the project. Project monitoring and control stage involves:
- Keeping a check on time, cost and quality of the deliverables
- Performing risk management and communication management
- Taking corrective measures in case of any deviation
This stage involves formal release of deliverables and its acceptance by the customer. Final documentation procedures are carried out and files are archived for future reference. Last step of project closure is post implementation review, during which success of the project is measured. Project closure includes:
- Performing project closure
- Performing contract closure
- Undertaking post implementation review
This management tool is very helpful in completing a project successfully. The importance of project management can be established by the fact that projects executed with proper planning and methodologies are mostly successful. Therefore, a systematic approach towards completing a project is very essential for achieving good results.