Before we jump straight to the key project management steps you need to follow to deliver a high-performance project, it is important to understand that all project activities fit into one of 5 basic processes. These processes make up the generic project lifecycle and are:
All of us have completed project activities in all 5 of these categories – even if we didn’t know it! Even if you’re brand new to project management, I guarantee you’ve progressed through these basic steps. These steps are a very natural progression when completing any project, but there is a significant benefit to consciously thinking about them and understanding the proper sequence and relation between them.
As an example, a home renovation project may go like this:
- Initiation – you get the initial idea that you want to renovate a certain portion of your home and generate some ideas of the total scope of your renovations and a rough idea of the budget. You then go to your spouse/roommate to get the necessary approvals.
- Planning – you generate a plan for the project in terms of what exactly you want to renovate, what it might look like when done, a more detailed cost estimate and how long it might take.
- Execution – this is the fun part! You actually roll up your sleeves and build that new kitchen, finish your bathroom, basement etc. This is where you get your hands dirty and get the physical work done!
- Monitoring & Controlling – this step is often done in parallel to the other processes and is where you are constantly checking to make sure it meets your original plan and correcting the course if it doesn’t. You’re also checking to see how you’re making out on your budget and schedule so that you actually finish your project on time and make sure you don’t install granite counter tops when only laminate ones were in the plan!
- Closing – This is when you complete all the work, tally up the total bill and sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
The critical project management steps that follow fit into these 5 processes and are the key steps you need to follow in order to deliver an efficient project.
I believe in keeping things simple, however, managing a project can be a very complex task – especially when the project is large and involves many people. My mission here is to present only the critical information required and to simplify the project delivery process for you. One of the best things you can do to simplify your life as a project manager is to use templates for the many documents you must create. Templates can be a great help and can save you tons of time! Check out these project management templates; you can download templates that are ready to use and will get you up and running in no time. I’ve personally used these templates and think they are a great help and will save you much time and money!
The Project Management Institute (PMI) is considered the authority on project management. The PMI publishes the authoritative manual on project management, called the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK.) The PMBOK can be a daunting read for those new to project management – the good news is that I have taken the PMBOK, boiled it down and combined it with lessons from real-life projects and have presented the basics to you here – all for free!
Even on larger projects, there is definitely something to be gained by keeping things simple. I believe in the 80/20 principal. The critical project management steps that follow are based on this principal. If you’ve never heard of the 80/20 principal before it means that often 80% of the benefit can come from 20% of the work. I think this is key to project management as well, especially if you are new to this exciting field. I’ve seen countless projects over the years go off their rails because people lost focus of what was really important and got too focused on details which ultimately didn’t really matter that much! You must not lose focus when executing a project…..the rest of the team is looking to you, as the project leader, for guidance. Keeping the 80/20 rule in mind, you can become a highly effective project manager.