The Basic Project Management Process

Basic Project Management Process
Basic Project Management Process © Key Consulting Inc.

At a high level, the management of most projects can be described using the project management process model above.  (A larger color version of the project management process model is available for viewing or printing.)

Assemble Team

The project planning team will be assembled, including appropriate representation from customers/clients, and sometimes subcontractors and vendors. Initial roles and responsibilities will be defined.

Deliverables: Initial project setup documentation.

Define Project Objectives

With the project team in place, the overall project purpose will be verified, and detailed project objectives developed. A phase-exit review will be conducted to ensure that the project is ready to move into the next phase, which is planning.

Deliverables: project charter, phase-exit review checklist.

Define Project Scope

An appropriately detailed Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) will be developed to ensure the project scope is properly agreed and understood by all stakeholders. This also allows the complete project to be split into appropriate sub-projects and/or phases.

Deliverables: Project work breakdown structure.

Construct an Initial Plan

Once tasks of an appropriate level have been identified in the WBS, they will be organized by the project team into logical network diagrams, with estimated durations. This allows the project manager to predict when activities will be complete, assess the feasibility of target dates, and identify the critical path for the project.

Deliverables: Initial work-plan.

Add Resources, Costs, Risks etc.

Certain project resources may be defined as critical resources. In particular, the project manager may suspect that key project staff may be faced with too much work. If so, estimated resource usage information can be added to the project plan to allow resource forecasting. Cost is often also critically important, and expenditures can be added to the plan to create estimated cash-flow requirements. Risk management can also be utilized on projects to provide a framework to better manage events that occur beyond the control of the project team.

Deliverables: Resource availability and commitment profiles, risk identification and control strategies, cash-flow forecasts.

Obtain Stakeholder Buy-in

To ensure the project is implemented as smoothly as possible, with the support of the involved parties, it will be necessary to review the initial plans with all the major project stakeholders, and solicit buy-in from each one. A phase-exit review will be conducted to ensure that the project is ready to move into the next phase.

Deliverables: Approved final plan, phase-exit review checklist.

Publish the Plan

Once the plans are agreed to, they must be effectively communicated to all stakeholders. This can be done in hard-copy or via electronic media, depending on the resources available. On most projects a communications plan will be developed, and distribution of the plans will follow the guidelines laid out in the communications plan.

Deliverables: Plan published to all stakeholders.

Collect Progress Information

On a regular basis, the project manager will collect together progress information that has been reported by the project team. This will allow the compilation of progress reports, such as :

  • Activities completed within the past two weeks
  • Activities forecast for the next two weeks, with a focus on activities on the critical path
  • Funds expended vs. fund expenditure forecast
  • Prioritized issues report

Metrics can also be developed to measure project progress in other ways, such as earned value, or activity float statistics. If the project manager reviews the progress data and concludes that the project is complete, a phase-exit review will be performed to confirm that all the objectives have been met before moving into the final closure phase.

Deliverables: Set of progress reports, set of exception reports, metrics report, (phase-exit review checklist).

Analyze Current Status

By analyzing the progress information received, the project manager will be able to augment the above reports with information about which areas of the project are of concern, and where problems are likely to occur in the future. This allows managers to focus on the important/critical areas of the project.

Deliverables: Project evaluation report(s).

Adjust the Plan, and Manage Project Change

Based on the analysis, and with the support of the project team, the project manager will make plan adjustments to help reduce risks, accommodate scope changes, or to compensate for activities that have not occurred on schedule. Once this has happened, the plan will re-published, and the cycle repeated until the project is complete.

Deliverables: Change request forms, updated plan.

Close Project

When the objectives of the project have been achieved, the project manager will close down the project. This will involve some financial closure tasks, as well as archiving of the project materials. A lessons-learned document will be developed to benefit future projects, and if possible a project team celebration will be held.

Deliverables: Final project report including lessons learned.

How can you learn more about project management?

We offer a variety of public project management training courses that range from 4 hours to 40 hours, and cover everything from project management fundamentals, to project management certification, to Microsoft Project best practices.  Select a location for a listing of course dates: Seattle/BellevueTucsonGrand Cayman, live online.