Understanding the Five Phases of a Project
Carrying out a project is a complex process, which consists of many project phases. No two projects look exactly alike – there is often a large variation in both scope and layout based on the kind of business you have. However, there are certain phases that are often included in a project.
In this article, we go through the 5 most common phases, and which activities, tasks and goals are typically included in each phase.
Phase 1: Start of the project
The first phase of a project is – not surprisingly – project start-up. In this phase, common tasks are to:
- Put together a team of project participants
- Define the scope of the project
- Set targets for the different phases
- Set up a project plan with timelines and budgets
An important part of this phase is to set clear limitations for the project, so that you don't get too eager and aim for more than you realistically are able to achieve. Facilitating the likely expectations of both the customer and the project participants is the key to success.
Phase 2: The project planning
In phase number two, planning is central. In this phase, a detailed project plan is created, which contains a clear structure, timetable and budget. Here you set interim goals, and identify potential risk factors so that you can make a plan for how to deal with the pitfalls you may encounter.
Important activities in this phase include developing a project management plan, defining project deliverables and identifying resource needs.
Read more about the pitfalls you should avoid in the project in our guide: 9 tips on how to succeed in the project
Phase 3: Project implementation
In the implementation phase, the project plan is (yes, you guessed it!) implemented. During this phase, the team completes the project deliverables, manages the project budget, and addresses any issues that arise.
If thorough planning work was carried out in advance of this phase, all project participants have a good understanding of what they have to do. It is important to follow the progress of the project during this phase, and to see that the use of time is in accordance with the project plan, and to adjust the use of resources.
Phase 4: Project monitoring and control
In the monitoring phase, care must be taken to ensure that the project is on the right course and that progress is going according to plan.
Status meetings - both internally in the team and externally with the customer, are part of this phase. In the status meetings, you check what work has been done, and whether you have come as far as you had estimated.
If you encounter an obstacle or something does not go as planned, it is important that it is dealt with as quickly as possible. Should the project plan be adjusted, do resources need to be reshuffled, or the offer be extended?
Keeping track of the use of time is central in this phase, and here there are helpful tools that make this job easier. In Milient's project tool Moment, you can set up notifications that notify the project manager when you reach a certain hourly consumption. This is of great help in ensuring that you stay within the planned hourly estimates.
For example, if you choose 30,60,90%, Moment will send you notifications when 30% of the estimated hours have been taken. You can choose the intervals yourself and Moment will notify you accordingly.
These checkpoints can be used in status meetings with those working on the activity. When a certain amount of hours has been spent, you can arrange a status meeting and inquire about how much of the work has been carried out and how much remains to complete the activity. This information will make you able to get a picture of how you are doing. Are you on track, or is it necessary to make any changes in order to complete the project in time?
Phase 5: Completion of the project
The final phase of a project is Completion. In this phase, the delivery is completed, final approval is obtained from the customer, and the final project report is prepared.
An important activity in this phase is to make assessments of the project so that you can learn from the project later. Did we achieve the goals we had set? What went according to plan and what didn't? What can we do better next time?
In this phase, make sure you also archive all documents used in the project. This makes them easy to find if you need them later.
Bonus: Quality assurance in every phase
Quality assurance of the work is a central part of the project and must take place in all phases. Checklists are a useful tool to ensure that all parts of a phase, activity, and task are completed.
Create your own routines for tasks, so you ensure that the task is done in the same way by all employees.
By having a good tool for handling nonconformities, you can register the nonconformities in a system, and document learning opportunities and areas for improvement.