The project management process is a series of steps that are taken to ensure that a project is completed within the given constraints of time, budget, and scope. The process generally includes four phases: initiating, planning, executing, and closing. Some may also include a fifth monitoring and controlling phase between the executing and closing stages .
The initiating phase is where the project is defined. This includes sorting out the project goals, scope, resources, and what roles are needed on the team. It’s crucial to clarify what stakeholders expect out of the project and what exactly the project is aiming to achieve (and why) to give the project and team clear direction. Some steps in this phase include communicating with stakeholders to understand the purpose and desired outcomes of the project, identifying project scope, determining SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound), clarifying resources like budget and time constraints, confirming team size and roles required, determining how often and which stakeholders will be involved throughout the project, compiling a project proposal and project charter .
In the planning phase, you’ll determine the steps to actually achieve the project goalsthe how of completing a project. You’ll establish budgets, timelines, milestones, source materials and necessary documents. This step also involves calculating and predicting risk, putting change processes into place, and outlining communication protocols .
The executing phase is where you put your plan into action. This includes coordinating resources and people to deliver the desired outcome. The execution phase is where most of the work happens .
The closing phase is where you wrap up your project. This includes delivering the final product or service to stakeholders, conducting a post-project review to identify lessons learned for future projects, releasing resources back to their respective departments or teams .