What Are The 5 Phases of Project Management? Best Ways To Manage Them!

blog thumbnail 1 1

Project management might be one of the single most interdisciplinary parts of the performance management ecosystem. When you are talking about project management best practices, you are inadvertently including many different fields, ranging from goal setting and task management to rewards and recognition,, to 360-degree feedback, to implementing performance review software.

Each time a group of individuals form a team and get assigned a new project, an opportunity to create some real magic within your organization is born.

To understand the great uniting power that projects have over teams, all we need to do is examine some of the best teams around and see just how their use of project management best practices elevated them to new heights!

Look at the Fellowship of The Ring for example! They are what can be considered a cross-functional team. Their to-do items included protecting Frodo, taking the One Ring to Mordor, and protecting Middle-Earth from Sauron’s invasion.

Oh, and they are taking on all of these tasks without the help of task software! They did face some adversity along with some employee turnover, but Gandalf’s project management skills prevailed after all!

If that last paragraph alienated our readers who aren’t into Tolkien, we would simply like to say: Sorry not sorry. That being said, we were simply trying to highlight just how universal of a skill effective project management can be!

To Do List for project management, divided into must-do and should-do columns.

Phase 0: What comes before the project?

Before we even start diving into the different phases of project management and analyze each project step in detail, we first need to talk about all the groundwork you need to do before the project itself.

One thing that often escapes leaders is that the success of project management processes often depends not on the project process itself but on the existing culture and infrastructure in an organization.

Lead your project teams through Microsoft Teams!
No sign-up required.
Teamflect Image

What is the right infrastructure to manage projects effectively?

A common misconception in the world of performance management is that project management software or even performance management tools, in general, are only for remote teams to use.

Every single team who are tasked with managing a project needs a project management platform. One that is completely integrated into their day-to-day operations.

As we cover each phase of project management in this article, we will also be showing you just how you can use helpful software solutions to guide your team through those project management stages.

The project software we will be taking advantage of in this article will be Teamflect! A performance management software designed specifically for Microsoft Teams.

To learn more about how you can use it to manage projects inside Microsoft Teams, you can watch the video below!

Project Management Phase 1: Initiation!

The initiation phase of project management is the first step in the project management process. This phase is used to define the scope and objectives of a project, identify resources required to complete the project, and develop a plan for executing the project.

During the initiation phase, the project manager and team members analyze the project’s goals and objectives, define the project’s scope and deliverables, identify the stakeholders and their roles, and determine the project’s timeline and budget.

While this may seem like too much for a single phase, one thing we have to clarify is that nothing is set in stone throughout the initiation phase.

The initiation phase is also when the project manager sets up the project management framework, such as creating a project charter, project plan, work breakdown structure, and other project documents.

These documents provide the framework for the entire project and help ensure that everyone involved understands the project’s goals and process.

The initiation phase is also when the project manager and team members develop communication protocols and channels as well as criteria for how they will measure progress and success.

Once the initiation process is complete, the project manager has a clear understanding of the parties involved in the project, the project’s goals and objectives, the resources required to complete the project, and a rough plan for executing the project.

Initiation Phase Best Practice 1: Create A Project Channel

We are not going to give you the whole “Communication is key.” routine. Having a separate communication channel where your team can post updates makes managing each and every step of a project infinitely more convenient.

Microsoft Teams not only lets you create separate channels and project teams with ease but also has a specific template for those looking to manage projects in Microsoft Teams.

Create a team with Microsoft Teams.

Using the “Manage a Project” Template inside Microsoft Teams gives you access to a project Team with multiple tabs dedicated to managing a project effectively. These Tabs include project and issue trackers, Notes, and any other application you might see fit to add!

Initiation Phase Best Practice 2: Have a “Session 0” Meeting.

Before you start planning each step of your project meticulously, it is always a great idea to have a comprehensive meeting with everyone in your project team and discuss the upcoming project phases and stages.

In order to set the right examples for your project meetings, you need a solid meeting agenda. You can access the best meeting agendas in the Microsoft Teams ecosystem by simply:

  • Going into Teamflect’s “Meetings” module
  • Selecting the meeting of your choice
Teamflect meeting setup.

You can use Teamflect’s meeting agendas to create recurring talking points & project-related tasks, exchange recognition, take shared & private meeting notes, as well as attach key project documents.

While all of these features will be useful in the upcoming project stages, use your Session 0 meeting to gauge everyone’s expectations, make the necessary introductions, and do some overall team building.

Project Management Phase 2: Planning!

The second stage in project management is the planning phase, dedicated to crafting a comprehensive strategy for project execution to meet its objectives.

  • In this phase, the project manager and team members meticulously create a detailed project plan encompassing the project’s timeline, budget, resources, and expected outcomes. This plan precisely outlines the necessary tasks and assigns responsibility for each task.
  • The project manager constructs a work breakdown structure, relaying all project tasks and subtasks along with the resources essential for their completion.
  • This phase involves creating a risk management plan, aiming to identify potential project risks, and devising strategies to mitigate them. Simultaneously, a communication plan is developed to ensure everyone involved is well-informed about the project’s progress.

At the end of the planning phase, the project manager has a detailed plan for executing the project, as well as a plan for addressing any potential risks or challenges that may arise during the project.

The work done throughout the planning phase of project management results in the creation of a guide which then will be used as the foundation for the rest of the project management process.

Planning Stage Best Practice 1: Setting SMART Goals That Are Easily Accessible

The planning phase of project management is centered around two things; Goals and tasks. In order to set the clearest possible goals, it is imperative that you integrate goal setting and tracking into your day-to-day project operations.

Members of your project team should be able to create, update, and track their goals at a moment’s notice. Remember the “Project Team” during the phase 1?

Teamflect goals module.

You can integrate Teamflect’s “Goals” module directly into it, giving your team easy access to project-related goals, inside the project channel.

Planning Stage Best Practice 2: Create Tasks On The Go

What is the saying about the best-laid plans of mice and men? As stated earlier, breaking down tasks and subtasks throughout your initial project plan is always a great idea. That doesn’t mean that you should stick to your plan rigidly.

The best project plans are the ones that are enhanced by spontaneous additions. That means being ready to set tasks on the spot and following through with them.

Turning Teams chat messages into Teamflect Tasks.

By hovering your mouse over messages inside Teams chat and clicking the ellipsis icon, you can turn any message there into a full-fledged Teamflect task.

You can later align that task to any of your goals, create subtasks related to it, or even change your mind and delete it! The important thing is that you get to capitalize on those spur-of-the-moment decisions.

Project Management Phase 3: Execution!

The execution phase of project management is the third step in the project management process. This particular project management step is when things actually get done. The project manager and team members alike follow the plan created during phase 2.

While it is one of the phases of project management that require the most amount of work to be done, it is the most straightforward step in a project.

If the second phase of project management, planning, has been done right, the project manager should have a rather easy time on their hands throughout the execution phase.

That being said, the execution phase of a project is when a project leader has to be at their most vigilant and attentive.

The project manager has to be at all times managing and monitoring any potential risks or challenges that may arise during the project. This entails a Hannibal-like tendency to develop contingency plans on top of contingency plans and the ability to take corrective action when necessary.

The execution phase is also when the project manager and team members communicate progress and feedback to stakeholders and other parties involved in the project. Keeping the communication lines open through this phase ensures that everyone is kept informed and up-to-date on the project’s progress.

This is also the only phase of project management that takes place simultaneously with another…

Project Management Phase 4: Monitoring and Controlling!

The monitoring and controlling phase of project management is the fourth step in the project management process. Unlike previous project management phases, it doesn’t start when the previous phase ends. It coincides with the execution phase, yet lasts long after its predecessor is finished.

During the monitoring and controlling phase, the project manager and team members monitor the project’s progress and ensure that the project plan is being followed.

The project manager also evaluates the project’s deliverables to ensure that they are meeting the project’s requirements.

While feedback isn’t exclusive to this phase, this project management phase is where project managers are expected to provide their team with quality feedback. The absolute best way to follow feedback? Recognition.

One of the best things you can do in the monitoring and controlling phase is to integrate employee recognition software into your project management practices. Once you’re done with the actual controlling aspect of this phase, you should definitely send recognition to your team members to appreciate their hard work!

Here are 10 Employee Recognition Software you definitely should check out!

At the end of the monitoring and controlling phase, the project manager has a clear understanding of the project’s progress and is able to take corrective action when necessary.

Monitoring & Control Phase Best Practice 1: Continuous Feedback

You can monitor every single goal and task until the cows come home but if you don’t offer quality feedback to your team, then you’ve only done half a job as a project manager.

In order to exchange clear, concise, and instant feedback inside Microsoft Teams, you should definitely take advantage of Teamflect’s feedback module.

By simply clicking the “New Feedback” option inside Teamflect’s “Feedback” module, you can easily start asking for or giving out quality feedback. This module serves as a feedback hub where you can send reminders on previous feedback requests, conduct self-assessments, and so much more!

Teamflect feedback module.

With the extensive library of customizable feedback templates at your disposal, you can either pick an ad-hoc feedback template from the gallery and use it as it is, create a feedback template of your own with options for various feedback question types, or customize an existing template to fit your needs!

Once you’ve chosen your template, you can start giving feedback right then and there!

Teamflect feedback module customizability.

Project Management Phase 5: Closing!

You are finally through with your project! Phase 5 is project closure! This is where the project manager ensures a clean break.

This phase is all about tying up loose ends. That means:

  • Ensuring that all deliverables have been completed according to the project scope.
  • Getting formal sign-off and approval from stakeholders that the project has been completed satisfactorily.
  • Capturing insights, best practices, and lessons learned during the project to improve future projects.

During this phase, the project manager evaluates the project’s performance against the project plan to ensure that the objectives of the project have been met.

The Project Closure phase marks the formal conclusion of the project and ensures that all loose ends are tied up, allowing the project team to disband and transition into other endeavors smoothly.

Project Closure Best Practice: Conduct Project Closure Reviews

Now that the project is done, you should know that every single member of your project team has a unique perspective on that project’s completion journey. That is why conducting project closure reviews is an absolute must.

Teamflect Project Closure Review module.

One of the simplest ways to conduct those reviews is to send out the project closure review template above to your project team, once the project is over. This not only presents you with insight on employee performance but also ensures the success of future projects.

The template seen above is one of the many review templates readily available as a part of Teamflect’s “Reviews” module.

How to make sure you are executing each phase to perfection?

Teamflect individual performance status.

As team sizes grow, project management becomes an even greater ordeal than it already was. That is why we strongly recommend that you invest in the proper tools for the job. Implementing project management software into your day-to-day project management operations will definitely increase the efficacy which you manage your projects with.

If your organization is using Microsoft Teams as its mode of communication then Teamflect is your best option when it comes to picking project management software. Teamflect’s complete integration into Microsoft Teams makes it an incredibly intuitive tool for Microsoft project management.

Common Mistakes To Avoid During Project Management

As we already discussed, success in project management comes with the ability to seamlessly navigate the phases. However, even the best of the best project managers can from time to time find themselves in the following pitfalls;

Neglecting Comprehensive Planning

Project management heavily relies on planning and lays the foundation for continued success throughout all the phases of the project. Skipping or not giving enough attention to this stage can cause major issues such as misaligned goals, unmet expectations, and poor organization overall, leading to the misuse of resources.

Underestimating Risk Management

Ignoring potential risks and lack of preparation for various scenarios can jeopardize the end goal you’re trying to meet. You must make sure to anticipate and address potential issues ahead of time to prevent costly delays and project failures.

Inadequate Communication

Effective communication in the project management process is integral. Without clear and consistent communication, project management phases can prove to be ineffective entirely, simply because there wasn’t enough clarification, and an excess of delays, misunderstanding and compromised results.

Unrealistic Resource Management

Project management steps require heavy planning especially when it comes to resources. As your driving power, resources need to be taken very seriously. There’s a delicate balance between over or underestimating your resources which can affect your success in project management tremendously.

Lack of Stakeholder Engagement

For your project management process to be a success and to get the most efficiency out of your project management phases, stakeholders need to be a consistent part of your journey. Since they are the ones looking to receive results, it’s counterintuitive to not include their input to the process and can lead to costly derailments or misaligned expectations.

Navigating project management phases can be a stressful post, yet there are very helpful resources and tools to assist you every step of the way. Be prepared, get your facts straight about the results you need to get, organize carefully, and avoid these mistakes to clear your path to success!

Manage performance inside Microsoft Teams
No sign-up required.
Teamflect Image

Written by Emre Ok

Emre is a content writer at Teamflect who aims to share fun and unique insight into the world of performance management.

Employee experience management thumbnail

Employee Experience Management: How to manage each touchpoint the best way! – 2024

employee of the month template featured image

Employee Of The Month Templates: Download 15 Free Recognition Templates