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5 Phases of Project Management Life Cycle | Complete Guide

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If you’re just diving into the world of project management for the first time, you might feel intimidated by starting a new project. Read on to learn about each phase of the project lifecycle, its role in the success of the project, and how you can properly manage each phase for optimum results.

What are Project Phases?

Project phases are smaller portions of a project that represent distinct goals or milestones in the larger project lifecycle. Within the project lifecycle, there are 5 project phases, as defined by the Project Management Institute: 

  • Project Initiation
  • Project Planning
  • Project Execution
  • Project Monitoring and Control
  • Project Closure

Each phase comes with specific requirements of the project team, as well as key deliverables and action items that keep the project moving forward successfully. Mastering project phases is essential for keeping the project on track while completing essential tasks and checkpoints throughout the process. 

example of the project lifecycle in stages.

Read more: 14 Important Questions Project Managers Should Ask the Team

What are the 5 phases of project management, project initiation phase.

A team’s performance during the Project Initiation Phase can result in either authorization, delay, or discontinuation of a new project.

The main goal of the Initiation Phase is to ensure that the project meets business needs and that stakeholders and project teams are aligned on the project success criteria throughout the project life cycle.

To achieve the project goal, it’s best to involve internal and external stakeholders from the Initiation Phase . This way, you can effectively align expectations and increase the likelihood of completing all the deliverables throughout the project management life cycle.

During the Initiation Phase, the entire project team defines the project idea, and the project sponsor evaluates it and authorizes the project to proceed. The project manager starts the documentation process, which includes the justification, deliverables, risks, estimated cost, and resource requirements.

The Project Charter is a key deliverable of the Project Initiation Phase and contains all this information. It is the first formal definition of the project. It authorizes the project to exist, establishes the authority of the project manager, and documents high-level requirements, project milestones, and success criteria.

Another important document in the Initiation Phase is the Stakeholder Register. This document includes information about all the stakeholders of the project. It identifies the people, groups, and organizations that have an interest in the task, project, and its results.

Approval of the Project Charter signals the advance of the project to the next phase, the Project Planning Phase.

Read more: What is a Project Charter? Complete Guide & Examples 2023

Project Planning Phase

Once the expectations and success criteria are clear, the next project management life cycle phase focuses on planning each task the team needs to perform to cover the scope, achieve the deliverables, and meet the overall goal.

In the Project Planning Phase, the project team members dive into specific requirements, tasks, timelines, and actions. The project manager works with the entire team to create the design, enumerate the task list, and estimate the budget.

The project team builds the resource plan, the communications plan, and the initial project schedule. The project manager also establishes the roles and responsibilities of the team and stakeholders. The project scope is finalized depending on approved available resources and client priorities.

During the Planning Phase , the project team finalizes the Work Breakdown Structure, Project Plan, Requirements List, Communications Management Plan, and other relevant documents to iron out the workflow and coordination with involved parties.

The Project Plan is a key deliverable and contains a detailed work breakdown structure (WBS) or task list with start and end dates, and estimated effort and duration. It identifies milestones, resources, and the schedule. It also includes task dependencies that will allow the project team to use the critical path method if it chooses.

Other important deliverables are the Communications Management Plan, which helps facilitate effective communication with stakeholders, and the Resource Allocation Plan which identifies the schedule of project team resources as to their availability during the whole project life cycle.

Something PMs should keep in mind: As you discover more information, you may have to adjust your previous Project Plan and related procedures. More complex projects will require more back-and-forth approvals for every task created.

Project planning is an iterative process so the project manager should review, revise, and revisit all the plans at least once a month until the completion of the project. It is crucial for the project team to involve relevant stakeholders in this stage of the project life cycle as well.

Read more: Project Management Communication Plan

Project Execution Phase

The Project Execution Phase is where the project team executes and follows through on tasks based on the Project Plan. At this stage, the team spends most of its time coordinating with people, helping to ensure quality work, keeping track of resources, and updating stakeholders.

Sometimes called the Implementation Phase, this is the phase when the project manager tries to manage every task and aspect of project delivery to keep the project on track for the remaining duration of the project life cycle.

The project team focuses on achieving all the objectives set in the earlier phases. At this phase, the project leader likely uses project management software to assign every task to team members. Tools that centralize task information, along with resource availability and team communication can simplify and optimize the needed project management processes.

Quality Assurance documentation, meeting minutes, and Work Orders are some of the documents created during the Execution Phase of the project management life cycle.

It’s also likely that you’ll discover new information that will require a revisit and update of the initial project management plans. Be vigilant with change requests, and make sure that the necessary adjustments are managed.

Read more: Understanding Different Types of Stakeholders and Their Roles

Project Monitoring & Control Phase

The best way to ensure progress and improvement is by tracking and reviewing project performance.

Simultaneously during execution, the project team carefully tracks the progress of the project based on the Project Plan established earlier. Tracking the performance of the project through various metrics is crucial to ensure the project stays on schedule, within budget, and within scope.

The project team keeps track of change management documents, spending records, QA checklists, and team time tracking. They are able to measure where efforts and resources go throughout the project life cycle, crosschecking it with the Project Plan.

Both the Execution Phase and Monitoring & Control Phase are critical times that can determine project success. Aside from monitoring the progress of tasks, the project manager also tries to identify issues or risks, creates a mitigation plan with the team, and reports the project status regularly to stakeholders.

Being diligent in recording and measuring project progress puts the project team in a strategic position. They can identify bottlenecks and initiate essential discussions or project management process improvements.

Having a proactive approach will allow the project team to respond rapidly to any change in the plan. Consistent and appropriate status reporting will update interested stakeholders and provide them the opportunity to intervene in or redirect the project as needed.

If additional planning, time, or resources are needed, you’ll need to communicate them to relevant project stakeholders before it’s too late. You’ll also have the data and results to back up your requests, so you have a better chance of justifying your requests and maintaining their trust despite circumstances.

Read more: 10 Best Project Management Software Buyers’ Guide

Project Closure Phase

In the last project management life cycle phase, all the activities related to its completion are concluded. These may involve the submission of a final deliverable, fulfilling contractual obligations, terminating relevant agreements, and releasing project resources.

The causes of a project closure can be completion, cancellation, termination, or transfer to a new organization. The documentation required to complete Project Closure will differ depending on the situation.

In this phase, the project manager communicates the final project disposition and status to all stakeholders. This phase also ensures to inform participants and stakeholders of any follow-on activities or continuing product life cycle so they can communicate and coordinate with the people in charge.

Regardless of the outcome of the project life cycle, however, it would be good for the team to conduct a project retrospective. During this post-mortem activity, the project team can process new lessons and ensure the improvement of current project management processes for a future project.

During the project closeout, documents to turn over can include various project documentation, final meeting minutes, and other closure reports. These documents can identify and capture lessons learned and best practices for future reference and reuse.

It is a good idea to organize and store project materials in a shared team folder. These materials can provide reference during performance evaluation. The opportunity to continuously test, improve, or reinvent ways to manage the whole project life cycle can help grow the organization and its business.

Read more: How to Host a Good Project Post-Mortem Meeting

VIDEO: Recap of 5 Project Management Phases

Why Are Project Phases Important?

All projects go through each of the five phases regardless of their size.

The decision to officially divide a project into phases is an excellent way to manage the team’s focus, allocate resources, and align the entire project life cycle with clients and stakeholders.

By thinking in terms of phases, the project team ensures that deliverables produced at the end of each phase meet the project’s goals. Managing a project by phase also makes sure that the team is properly prepared for the next phase.

Project life cycle phases provide additional benefits. The approach provides a structured approach for project delivery. Defined activities, outputs, and responsibilities create a clear and common roadmap for the project team to follow.

Defined phases and defined roles show a visible framework easily understood by all team members and stakeholders. Assignment of responsibilities by phase clarifies what the team should only be doing in each phase and helps streamline communication.

Working on projects phase by phase helps track and link progress directly to each phase. Completion of each phase is easily recognizable by all involved.

Another benefit of project management by phase is the progressive evolution of the project. This helps identify areas that need greater attention for a particular phase. It also marks clearly the points and opportunities for structured reviews to support project governance.

While PMBOK recommends assigning project phases according to a project’s life cycle, project teams can follow their own system depending on their industry, organizational policies, and other relevant factors. For example, teams and organizations focused on monitoring the usage of resources can use the critical chain project management methodology.

Read next: Key Project Management Terms and Concepts

Throughout the project lifecycle, there are a variety of tools that can be used to limit stress, automate workflows, and keep the project moving successfully. 

Gantt Charts

Gantt charts are a powerful planning tool that can help teams visualize individual deadlines against task dependencies and overall project progress. This type of chart can be especially useful early on in the project lifecycle, particularly the planning stage. 

Gantt chart example.

Example of a Gantt chart. Source: Wrike, accessed November 2023. 

Project Management Software

Project management software solutions are likely the most well-known tools in project management—and for good reason. Within one application, users can set task deadlines, view project overviews, extract data about project progress, automate workflows, and more. ss.

Example of project management software. Source:, accessed November 2023. 

Collaboration Tools

Whether it’s a remote team, in-office, or a hybrid blend, collaboration is one of the most important elements of running a successful project. While some project management software solutions offer built-in collaboration tools, utilizing the power of other tools that are directly centered around team communication, such as Slack, can ensure the team has a central space to communicate updates. 

Slack ss.

Example of team chat features in Slack. Source: Slack, accessed November 2023. 

Throughout the project lifecycle, the project manager takes ownership of the project and relays updates to team members. As each phase of the project progresses, the project manager will facilitate discussions, track progress, and address any roadblocks.

The project initiation phase is arguably the most important phase of the project lifecycle, as this is when the project is conceived and approved so that work can begin. During this phase, it’s common for a team to present a proposal in order to gain approval for the project.

Read more: Project Proposal with Template

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Project Planning: How to Make a Project Plan

This guide is brought to you by projectmanager, the project planning software trusted by 35,000+ users worldwide. make a project plan in minutes.

Project plan on a Gantt chart

What Is a Project Plan?

How to create a project plan, project planning phase, what is project planning software, benefits of online project planning software, must-have project planning software features, project planning terms, project planning steps, how to create a project plan with projectmanager, what is the purpose of a project management plan, the elements of a project plan, how long does the project planning phase take, techniques for the project planning process, how to manage your project plan.

A project plan is a series of formal documents that define the execution and control stages of a project. The plan includes considerations for risk management, resource management and communications, while also addressing scope, cost and schedule baselines. Project planning software is used by project managers to ensure that their plans are thorough and robust.

ProjectManager allows you to make detailed project plans with online Gantt charts that schedule task dependencies, resource hours, labor costs, milestones and more. Plus, your team can execute the plan in any of our five project views, while you track progress along the way with dashboards. Start today for free.

ProjectManager's Gantt charts are the perfect project planning tool

The project plan, also called project management plan, answers the who, what, where, why, how and when of the project—it’s more than a Gantt chart with tasks and due dates. The purpose of a project plan is to guide the execution and control project phases.

As mentioned above, a project plan consists of the following documents:

  • Project Charter : Provides a general overview of the project. It describes the project’s reasons, goals, objectives, constraints, stakeholders, among other aspects.
  • Statement of Work : A statement of work (SOW) defines the project’s scope, schedule, deliverables, milestones, and tasks.
  • Work Breakdown Structure : Breaks down the project scope into the project phases, subprojects, deliverables, and work packages that lead to your final deliverable.
  • Project Plan : The project plan document is divided in sections to cover the following: scope management, quality management, risk assessment, resource management, stakeholder management, schedule management and the change management plan.

This guide aims to give you all the information and resources you need to create a project plan and get it approved by your customers and stakeholders. Let’s start with the basics of writing a project plan.

project planning phase

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Project Plan Template

Use this free Project Plan Template for Word to manage your projects better.

Your project plan is essential to the success of any project. Without one, your project may be susceptible to common project management issues such as missed deadlines, scope creep and cost overrun. While writing a project plan is somewhat labor intensive up front, the effort will pay dividends throughout the project life cycle.

The basic outline of any project plan can be summarized in these five steps:

  • Define your project’s stakeholders, scope, quality baseline, deliverables, milestones, success criteria and requirements. Create a project charter, work breakdown structure (WBS) and a statement of work (SOW) .
  • Identify risks and assign deliverables to your team members, who will perform the tasks required and monitor the risks associated with them.
  • Organize your project team (customers, stakeholders, teams, ad hoc members, and so on), and define their roles and responsibilities.
  • List the necessary project resources , such as personnel, equipment, salaries, and materials, then estimate their cost.
  • Develop change management procedures and forms.
  • Create a communication plan , schedule, budget and other guiding documents for the project.

Each of the steps to write a project plan explained above correspond to the 5 project phases, which we will outline in the next section.

What Are the 5 Phases of the Project Life Cycle?

Any project , whether big or small, has the potential to be very complex. It’s much easier to break down all the necessary inclusions for a project plan by viewing your project in terms of phases. The Project Management Institute , within the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), have identified the following 5 phases of a project:

  • Initiation: The start of a project, in which goals and objectives are defined through a business case and the practicality of the project is determined by a feasibility study.
  • Planning: During the project planning phase, the scope of the project is defined by a work breakdown structure (WBS) and the project methodology to manage the project is decided on. Costs, quality and resources are estimated, and a project schedule with milestones and task dependencies is identified. The main deliverable of this phase is your project plan.
  • Execution: The project deliverables are completed during this phase. Usually, this phase begins with a kick-off meeting and is followed by regular team meetings and status reports while the project is being worked on.
  • Monitoring & Controlling: This phase is performed in tandem with the project execution phase. Progress and performance metrics are measured to keep progress on the project aligned with the project plan.
  • Closure: The project is completed when the stakeholder receives the final deliverable. Resources are released, contracts are signed off on and, ideally, there will be an evaluation of the successes and failures.

Free Project Plan Template

Address all aspects of your project plan with this free project plan template for Word . This in-depth template will guide you through every phase of the project, as well as all the elements you need to outline for a proper document. Download your template today.

free project plan template

We’ve created also created other project planning templates to help you create all the different documents that make up a project plan, like the project schedule, project budget or resource plan.

Now that we’ve learned how to make a project plan, and identified the stages of the project management life cycle, we need to emphasize on the importance of the project planning phase.

The project planning process is critical for any kind of project because this is where you create all the documents that will guide how you’ll execute your project plan and how you’ll control risks and any issues that might occur. These documents, which are part of the project management plan, cover all the details of your project without exception.

There are project plan templates out there that can help you organize your tasks and begin the project planning process—but we here at ProjectManager recommend the use of project planning software. The feature set is far more robust and integrated with every project phase compared to an Excel project plan template, and is a great way to ensure your actual progress stays aligned with your planned progress.

Once you write a project plan, it’s time for implementation . Watch the video below to see how project planning software helps organize a project’s tasks, resources and costs.

Project management training video (kkuo0lgcxf)

Project planning tools has become an invaluable tool for project managers in recent years, as it provides them the ability to maintain and automate the components we outlined above. Project planning software is a great tool to facilitate project management processes such as schedule development, team management, cost estimation, resource allocation and risk monitoring.

Beyond that, planning software also allows managers to monitor and track their plan as it moves through the execution phase of the project. These features include dashboards, for a high-level view of the project’s progress and performance, and in-depth reports that can be used to communicate with stakeholders.

Project planning software comes in all different sizes and shapes. There are some that focus on a single aspect, and others that offer a suite of planning features that can be used in each one of the project planning steps. What’s right for your project depends on your specific needs, but in general terms, project planning software is a much more powerful tool than project planning templates .

Related: 20 Must-Have Project Management Excel Templates

Online project planning software is highly flexible and adaptable to your team’s style of work. It has features that are designed to assist you throughout your project planning process.

Before the rise of planning software, project managers would typically have to keep up with a disjointed collection of documents, excel spreadsheets and so on. Savvy managers, however, make use of the project management tools available to them to automate what they can, and streamline what they can’t.

Some of the time-saving benefits of project planning software include the following.

  • Organize, prioritize and assign tasks
  • Plan and schedule milestones and task dependencies
  • Monitor progress, costs and resources
  • Collaborate with team
  • Share project plans with team and stakeholders
  • Generate reports on plans

Interactive Gantt icon

Gantt Charts for Superior Planning

A Gantt chart is the most essential tool for the project planning process. Organize tasks, add their duration and they automatically populate a project timeline . Set milestones to break the larger project into manageable phases, and link task dependencies to avoid bottlenecks later in the project.

A zoomed in screenshot of’s gantt chart

Get More Than a To-Do List

When planning a project, you need more than a to-do list. Seek out a planning software with a task list feature that lets you set priority levels, filters and collaborate. It’s a big plus if you can also make personal task lists that are private to manage your own work.

A zoomed in screenshot of’s task list view

Use Kanban for Workflows

Workflows ensure proper execution of your plan, and no feature does this better than kanban boards. Customize boards to match your workflow and drag and drop cards as teams get their work done. See what work needs to be done and keep the focus on productivity with this feature.

A zoomed in screenshot of’s kanban view

Be Able to Track Progress

A dashboard can keep your project plan on track. Try and find a dashboard that’s synced with your planning tools, so everything updates automatically. It will make reporting easier too.

A zoomed in screenshot of’s dashboard view

Get Transparency Into Teams

For a plan to go smoothly, you have to know what your team is working on. Find a way to balance your team’s availability with the project schedule. Workload features that map out resource allocation and holidays can be a big help here.

A zoomed in screenshot of’s workload view

Be Able to Manage Multiple Projects

Rarely do you need to only focus on one project at a time. Give yourself the flexibility to manage multiple projects at once in the same tool. A roadmap feature that maps all of your projects on one timeline can be a lifesaver.

A zoomed in screenshot of’s Overview Projects tab

Before we dive into how to create a project plan, it helps to be familiar with some of the terms that you’ll run across. Here is a list of general terms you’ll encounter in this guide.

  • Deliverable: The results of a project, such as a product, service, report, etc.
  • Stakeholder: Anyone with a vested interest in the project—project manager, project sponsor, team members, customers, etc.
  • Tasks: Small jobs that lead to the final deliverable.
  • Milestone: The end of one project phase, and the beginning of the next.
  • Resources: Anything you need to complete the project, such as personnel, supplies, materials, tools, people and more.
  • Budget: Estimate of total cost related to completing a project.
  • Tracking & Monitoring: Collecting project data, and making sure it reflects the results you planned for.

The project planning process is critical for the success of your project, and as a project manager, you have to think about all the elements that make up your project management plan such as work, time, resources and risks.

Now, we’re going to take you through the main project planning steps :

  • Outline the business case
  • Meet with key stakeholders
  • Define project scope
  • Assemble a project team
  • Determine a project budget
  • Set project goals & objectives
  • Outline project deliverables
  • Create a project schedule
  • Assign tasks to your team members
  • Do a risk analysis
  • Create your project plan
  • Report your progress

By following these project planning steps, you’ll clarify what you need to achieve, work out the processes you need to get there and develop an action plan for how you are going to take this project plan outline forward.

1. Outline the Business Case

If you have a project, there’s a reason for it—that’s your business case . The business case outlines reasons why the project is being initiated, its benefits and the return on investment. If there’s a problem that is being solved, then that problem is outlined here. The business case will be presented to those who make decisions at your organization, explaining what has to be done, and how, along with a feasibility study to assess the practicality of the project. If approved, you have a project.

2. Meet with Key Stakeholders

Every project has stakeholders , those who have a vested interest in the project. From the ones who profit from it, to the project team members who are responsible for its success. Therefore, any project manager must identify who these key stakeholders are during the project planning process, from customers to regulators. Meeting with them is crucial to get a better picture of what the project management plan should include and what is expected from the final deliverable.

3. Define Project Scope

It refers to the work required to accomplish the project objectives and generate the required deliverables. The project scope should be defined and organized by a work breakdown structure (WBS). Therefore, the project scope includes what you must do in the project (deliverables, sub deliverables, work packages, action items ), but also what is nonessential. The latter is important for the project plan, because knowing what isn’t high priority helps to avoid scope creep ; that is, using valuable resources for something that isn’t key to your project’s success.

4. Assemble a Project Team

You’ll need a capable project team to help you create your project plan and execute it successfully. It’s advisable to gather a diverse group of experienced professionals to build a multi-disciplinary team that sees your project management plan from different perspectives.

5. Determine a Project Budget

Once you define your project scope, you’ll have a task list that must be completed to deliver your project successfully. To do so, you’ll need resources such as equipment, materials, human capital, and of course, money. Your project budget will pay for all this. The first step to create a project budget is to estimate the costs associated with each task. Once you have those estimated costs, you can establish a cost baseline , which is the base for your project budget.

6. Set Project Goals & Objectives

Goals and objectives are different things when it comes to planning a project. Goals are the results you want to achieve, and are usually broad. Objectives , on the other hand, are more specific; measurable actions that must be taken to reach your goal. When creating a project plan, the goals and objectives naturally spring from the business case, but in this stage, you go into further detail. In a sense, you’re fine-tuning the goals set forth in the business case and creating tasks that are clearly defined. These goals and objectives are collected in a project charter , which you’ll use throughout the project life cycle.

7. Outline Project Deliverables

A project can have numerous deliverables. A deliverable can be a good, service or result that is needed to complete a task, process, phase, subproject or project. For example, the final deliverable is the reason for the project, and once this deliverable is produced, the project is completed. As defined in the project scope, a project consists of subprojects, phases, work packages, activities and tasks, and each of these components can have a deliverable. The first thing to do is determine what the final deliverable is, and how you will know that the quality meets your stakeholder’s expectations. As for the other deliverables in the project, they must also be identified and someone on the team must be accountable for their successful completion.

8. Create a Project Schedule

The project schedule is what everything hangs on. From your tasks to your budget , it’s all defined by time. Schedules are made up by collecting all the tasks needed to reach your final deliverable, and setting them on a project timeline that ends at your deadline. This can make for an unruly job ahead, which is why schedules are broken into phases, indicated by milestones , which mark the end of one project phase and the beginning of the next.

9. Assign Tasks to Your Team Members

The plan is set, but it still exists in the abstract until you take the tasks on your schedule and begin assigning them out to your team members. Their roles and responsibilities must be clearly defined, so they know what to do. Then, when you assign them tasks from your plan, they should be clear, with directions and any related documentation they will need to execute the tasks.

10. Do a Risk Analysis

Every project has some level of risk . There are several types of risk such as scope risk, technical risks and schedule risk, among others. Even if your project plan is thorough, internal and external factors can impact your project’s time, cost and scope (triple constraint). Therefore, you need to regard your planning as flexible. There are many ways to prepare for risk, such as developing a change management plan, but for now, the most important thing to do is to track your progress throughout the execution phase by using project status reports and/or project planning software to monitor risk.

11. Create your Project Plan

As discussed above, a project management plan is a document that’s made of several elements. Before we get into a detailed explanation of each of them, it’s important to understand that you should include them all to have a solid project plan. The components that you’ll need might vary depending on your project, but in general terms, you’ll need these main documents to create your project management plan:

  • Project charter
  • Project schedule
  • Project budget
  • Project scope statement
  • Risk management plan
  • Change management plan
  • Cost management plan
  • Resource management plan
  • Stakeholder management plan

12. Report Your Progress

Your ultimate goal is to ensure a successful project for your stakeholders. They’re invested, and will not be satisfied twiddling their thumbs without looking at project status reports to track progress. By constructing a work breakdown structure (WBS) during the project planning phase you can break down the project for them so that they understand how your project plan will be executed. Keeping stakeholders informed is important to manage their expectations and ensure that they’re satisfied. Having regular planning meetings where you present progress reports are a great way to show them that everything is moving forward as planned and to field any questions or concerns they might have. Your stakeholder management plan will specify how you’ll engage stakeholders in the project.

Project planning software is a tool that helps to plan, organize and manage the schedule and resources needed to complete a project. ProjectManager is an award-winning project management software that organizes projects from planning to completion. Sign up for a free 30-day trial and follow along to build a thorough project plan that covers every detail.

1. List Your Tasks for the Plan

Tasks are the building blocks of any project and the start of any plan is identifying all the tasks that lead to your final deliverable.

Open the tool to add your tasks on the Gantt chart or one of the other multiple project views. You can import a task list from any spreadsheet or use one of our templates to get started.

ProjectManager's task list

2. Add Duration and Costs to Tasks

Every task has an estimated duration, which is the time it will take to complete it. They will also require a certain amount of funding, which needs to be collected to formulate your plan.

Add the start and end dates for each task in the Gantt and they populate a project timeline, so you can see the whole project laid out in one place. There’s also a column for task costs.

ProjectManager's task list showing a manufacturing project plan

3. Link Dependent Tasks

Tasks are not always separate from one another. Often one cannot start or stop until another has started or stopped. That’s called a task dependency and needs to be noted in your plan.

Link dependent tasks by dragging one to the other. A dotted line indicates that they’re linked, so you stay aware of the fact and can avoid bottlenecks later in the project.

4. Set Milestones & Baseline

A milestone indicates the end of one phase and the beginning of another, which helps with tracking and morale. The baseline sets your plan so you can compare it to actual progress.

There is a filter on the Gantt that automatically sets the baseline, so you can use it to track your actual progress against the plan. The baseline can also be locked with a click.

5. Onboard Team & Assign

Getting the team and the tool together is how a project plan becomes actualized. The easier and seamless this transition, the faster you’ll get to work on the project.

Invite your team from the software and it generates an email with a link. Once they follow that link, they’re in and have access to the tools they need to manage their tasks.

ProjectManager's Gantt showing a construction project plan task assignments

6. Monitor Progress & Report to Stakeholders

Keeping track of your progress and then updating stakeholders is both how you stay on track and manage your stakeholders’ expectations.

See progress as it happens on our real-time dashboard, which calculates data and displays it over six project metrics. Reports can be filtered and shared for a deep dive into those numbers.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

7. Adjust Plan As Needed

No plan remains the same throughout a project. Things happen and changes are demanded. Therefore, being able to edit your plan easily is key to the project planning process.

Edit your plan on the Gantt by a simple drag and drop. Move the old date to the new date and not only is that task fixed, but any impacted tasks are also updated automatically.

ProjectManager is an award-winning software that helps managers plan and helps teams get organized. Gantt charts control all aspects of your project plan from scheduling to assigning tasks and even monitoring progress. Multiple project views provide transparency into workflow and give everyone the tools they need to be at their best.

Ready to make your plan? Try ProjectManager today with this free 30-day trial.

The project manager is responsible for producing the project plan, and while you can’t make up all the content yourself, you’ll be the one banging the keys to type it all out. Use templates where you can to save time. Download our free project plan template and write your plan in double-quick time!

The purpose of a project management plan is to serve as a guide for the execution and control phases. The project plan provides all the information necessary for the execution phase such as the project’s goals, objectives, scope of work, milestones, risks and resources. Then, this information helps project managers monitor and control the progress of the project.

We plan at the beginning to save time later. A good project plan means that you don’t have to worry about whether the project participants are going to be available on the right dates—because you’ve planned for them to be. You don’t have to worry about how to pay those invoices—you’ve planned your financial process. You don’t have to worry about whether everyone agrees on what a quality outcome looks like—you’ve already planned what quality measures you are going to use.

A good project plan sets out the processes that everyone is expected to follow, so it avoids a lot of headaches later. For example, if you specify that estimates are going to be worked out by subject matter experts based on their judgement, and that’s approved, later no one can complain that they wanted you to use a different estimating technique. They’ve known the deal since the start.

Project plans are also really helpful for monitoring progress. You can go back to them and check what you said you were going to do and how, comparing it to what you are actually doing. This gives you a good reality check and enables you to change course if you need to, bringing the project back on track.

Tools like dashboards can help you make sure that your project is proceeding according to plan. ProjectManager has a real-time dashboard that updates automatically whenever tasks are updated.

The project planning process already discussed only scratches the surface of what is a deep well of practices created to control your project. They start with dialogue — speaking to stakeholders, teams, et al.

The deliverable for your planning phase is a document called the project plan. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) – Fifth Edition says that the project plan is made up of lots of subsidiary plans. These include:

  • A project scope statement to define all the tasks and deliverables that are needed to complete the project
  • A risk management plan for dealing with project risk including the processes for logging and tracking risks
  • A change management plan to manage any changes that will be made to the project plan
  • A cost management plan for managing costs and the budgeting elements of the project including any procurements or supplier engagements you might have
  • A resource management plan for managing the material resources such as equipment and the human resources on the team both in terms of availability and skills
  • A stakeholder management plan setting out who is going to receive messages about the project, when and in what format
  • A quality plan that specifies the quality targets for the project

That’s a lot of documentation.

In reality, it’s rare that you’ll produce these as individual documents. What you need is a project plan that talks about the important elements of each of these. There’s no point creating a big document that sets out exactly how your business works anyway. If you already have a structured risk management process , then don’t waste time writing it all down again in your project plan.

Your project management plan needs to include enough information to make sure that you know exactly what processes and procedures need to be followed and who needs to be involved. Get your project plan approved by your stakeholders, your project sponsor and your team so there are no surprises later. As explained above, project planning charts and techniques such as Gantt charts, CPM, WBS or PERT can help you create your project plan.

This is hard to answer. It’s going to take longer to plan the moon landing than a new dating app.

The best way to estimate how long your project planning phase will take is to look at similar projects that have happened before, and see how long it took them to plan. Talk to the project manager as well, if you can, because they’ll have a view on whether that length of time was enough or not!

It’s easy to see how long other projects took if you have a project management tool that archives your old project schedules and makes the data available to everyone who needs it. You can then search for similar projects and study their schedules in detail.

A project plan is all about working out what to do and how to do it, so you need to get a lot of people involved. There are several good tools and project planning techniques for getting information from other people including:

  • One-to-one meetings or interviews
  • Surveys or customer focus groups to gather and validate requirements.

You should also arm yourself with a task management tool , like a list or a kanban board. They are incredibly useful for noting down important things that should be in your project plan. Kanban board software can help structure your plan by writing down the key headings and then moving them around as required until you have a flow that looks right.

ProjectManager's Kanban board showing the tasks of a marketing project plan

Finally, you’ll need an online project management system to store your project management plan in. Make sure that everyone in the team can access the latest version of the project plan.

Your project plan is not a document written in stone. You should be referring back to it and making changes to it as often as you need to. Parts of it, like your project schedule, will change almost daily. Other parts, like your procurement plans and cost management processes, won’t change at all during the life of your project.

The important thing to remember is that if your project management plan isn’t working for you, think about what you can do to change it. It’s there to guide your project management, not restrict you from doing the right thing. If you need to review how you manage work and project resources, then go back and review it. Make the changes you need, get the plan approved again and share it with the team.

How To Make a Project Plan When You Don’t Have All the Answers

Yes, this happens–most of the time! It’s rare to have all the information at the beginning of a project. Most managers want you to dive in and get started, but you might not have the luxury of knowing all the details.

That’s OK; we have techniques to help deal with uncertainty.

First is the project assumption. You use these to put caveats on your plan and to document the things that you assume to be true at this point in time. For example:

  • We assume that the resources will be available.
  • We assume that the required funding is available.
  • We assume that the colors requested will be in line with the company brand and that Marketing sign off is not required.

You get the picture. Then, if the design team comes back and says that they want the product to be a totally new palette of colors and that Marketing has to approve that, you are justified in saying that you’ll have to change the timescales on the schedule to make that possible.

You planned based on an assumption (that everyone agreed to, because you got the document approved) and that assumption turned out not to be true.

Next Steps for Project Planning

The most important thing to remember is that you shouldn’t rush the project planning process. Done properly, project planning takes time. And it’s worth doing it properly because if you don’t, we guarantee that you will hit problems later on as people won’t understand what they are supposed to do and why.

Great planning sets you up for success. It gives you the confidence of knowing that you’ve got all your processes, tools and systems in place to deliver the perfect result.

Now that you’ve learned all about project planning, it’s time to take action. Sign up for a free 30-day trial of ProjectManager and start planning your project today!

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  • How to Create a Project Roadmap (Example Included)
  • What Is Aggregate Planning? Strategies & Tips
  • What Is Rolling Wave Planning?
  • How to Create a Project Execution Plan (PEP) – Free Template Included
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8. Overview of Project Planning

Adrienne Watt; Merrie Barron; and Andrew Barron

Click play on the following audio player to listen along as you read this section.

After the project has been defined and the project team has been appointed, you are ready to enter the second phase in the project management life cycle: the detailed project planning phase.

Project planning is at the heart of the project life cycle, and tells everyone involved where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. The planning phase is when the project plans are documented, the project deliverables and requirements are defined, and the project schedule is created. It involves creating a set of plans to help guide your team through the implementation and closure phases of the project. The plans created during this phase will help you manage time, cost, quality, changes, risk, and related issues. They will also help you control staff and external suppliers to ensure that you deliver the project on time, within budget, and within schedule.

The project planning phase is often the most challenging phase for a project manager, as you need to make an educated guess about the staff, resources, and equipment needed to complete your project. You may also need to plan your communications and procurement activities, as well as contract any third-party suppliers.

The purpose of the project planning phase is to:

  • Establish business requirements
  • Establish cost, schedule, list of deliverables, and delivery dates
  • Establish resources plans
  • Obtain management approval and proceed to the next phase

The basic processes of project planning are:

  • Scope planning – specifying the in-scope requirements for the project to facilitate creating the work breakdown structure
  • Preparation of the work breakdown structure – spelling out the breakdown of the project into tasks and sub-tasks
  • Project schedule development – listing the entire schedule of the activities and detailing their sequence of implementation
  • Resource planning – indicating who will do what work, at which time, and if any special skills are needed to accomplish the project tasks
  • Budget planning – specifying the budgeted cost to be incurred at the completion of the project
  • Procurement planning – focusing on vendors outside your company and subcontracting
  • Risk management – planning for possible risks and considering optional contingency plans and mitigation strategies
  • Quality planning – assessing quality criteria to be used for the project
  • Communication planning – designing the communication strategy with all project stakeholders

The planning phase refines the project’s objectives, which were gathered during the initiation phase. It includes planning the steps necessary to meet those objectives by further identifying the specific activities and resources required to com­plete the project. Now that these objectives have been recognized, they must be clearly articulated, detailing an in-depth scrutiny of each recognized objective. With such scrutiny, our understanding of the objective may change. Often the very act of trying to describe something precisely gives us a better understanding of what we are looking at. This articulation serves as the basis for the development of requirements. What this means is that after an objective has been clearly articulated, we can describe it in concrete (measurable) terms and identify what we have to do to achieve it. Obviously, if we do a poor job of articulating the objective, our requirements will be misdirected and the resulting project will not represent the true need.

Users will often begin describing their objectives in qualitative language. The project manager must work with the user to provide quantifiable definitions to those qualitative terms. These quantifiable criteria include schedule, cost, and quality measures. In the case of project objectives, these elements are used as measurements to determine project satisfaction and successful completion. Subjective evaluations are replaced by actual numeric attributes.

A web user may ask for a fast system. The quantitative requirement should be all screens must load in under three seconds. Describing the time limit during which the screen must load is specific and tangible. For that reason, you’ll know that the requirement has been successfully completed when the objective has been met.

Let’s say that your company is going to produce a holiday batch of eggnog. Your objective statement might be stated this way: Christmas Cheer, Inc. will produce two million cases of holiday eggnog, to be shipped to our distributors by October 30, at a total cost of $1.5 million or less. The objective criteria in this statement are clearly stated and successful fulfillment can easily be measured. Stakeholders will know that the objectives are met when the two million cases are produced and shipped by the due date within the budget stated.

When articulating the project objectives you should follow the SMART rule:

  • Specific – get into the details. Objectives should be specific and written in clear, concise, and under­standable terms.
  • Measurable – use quantitative language. You need to know when you have successfully completed the task.
  • Acceptable – agreed with the stakeholders.
  • Realistic – in terms of achievement. Objectives that are impossible to accomplish are not realistic and not attainable. Objectives must be centred in reality.
  • Time based – deadlines not durations. Objectives should have a time frame with an end date assigned to them.

If you follow these principles, you’ll be certain that your objectives meet the quantifiable criteria needed to measure success.

Text Attributions

This chapter adapted by Adrienne Watts from the following source:

  • Text under “Overview of Project Planning”  adapted from “ Project Planning ” in Project Management by Merrie Barron and Andrew Barron. Licensed under a CC BY 4.0 licence

8. Overview of Project Planning Copyright © 2014 by Adrienne Watt; Merrie Barron; and Andrew Barron is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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The 9 Stages of a Successful Project Planning Process

Find out what steps you can take to lay the foundation of a successful project.

Stella Inabo

Stella Inabo,   Content Writer

  • project planning

The project planning process is essential to laying the groundwork for a successful project. 

But planning a project is not linear. The project manager might need to change things on the fly to adjust plans to reality. For example, you could need to adjust the project timeline after planning your resources to avoid burning out your employees.  As a result, the project planning processes can quickly become complicated!  

In this guide, we’ll share a structured approach to project management planning that will help you plan your future projects better.

What are the stages in project planning?

There are nine essential stages in the project planning process that should be adhered to. Follow these steps to create your project plan:

1. Determine the project goals and objectives 

The first step in the project planning phase is to define the goals and objectives of your project. 

Project goals and objectives help you decide if the project should be prioritized (or even undertaken—essentially you need to use a proof of concept ). They also assist you in deciding what to deliver to the client and in identifying problems early on, e.g., a short deadline.  

Your project goals provide a broad idea of what you’re trying to accomplish and help dictate the direction of your project. 

Your project objectives are similar to your goals, but they define the project in more specific terms like cost, time, and quality. Once you have your project objectives, it's easy to determine the deliverables . 

To set your project goals and objectives, refer to the information gathered in the project initiation stage . For example, the project brief or project proposal state that the client needs an e-commerce store to handle the volume of orders on their social media pages. Their goal, in that case, is to launch an e-commerce website. Their objectives might be to launch a fast and user-friendly e-commerce website by the end of Q4 at a cost of $20,000.

If you're wondering where to start, take a look at our project planning templates or the more specific project charter templates that will help you save time and effort.

2. Determine the project scope 

Stakeholders often request extra tasks or significant changes in direction (sometimes several of them) during a project that could derail it. 

Your project scope protects you from unrealistic expectations, conflicting interests, and unattainable demands as the project progresses.  

To determine your scope, look at your project goals and objectives. What do you need to do to achieve them? What isn’t necessary? For example, the scope of a new housing project may be limited to erecting and finishing the building but might not include landscaping or the construction of an outdoor pool. And it certainly does not include switching the design to a skyscraper!

It’s normal to feel uncertain about all the details. Stephen Whitworth, co-founder of, recommends being flexible in your approach. “You can scope with different levels of detail in your scope. It’s helpful to start vague, get early feedback, and then go precise.”

Using a scope document or a scope statement ensures you can refer back to it if the need arises (this can be achieved in several ways). 

3. Build your work breakdown structure (WBS)

At this stage, start determining which tasks, subtasks, and deliverables must be carried out to complete the project. You can do this by referring to your scope and creating a work breakdown structure—a structured decomposition of tasks needed to complete a project. A WBS is often accompanied by a resource breakdown structure (RBS) , where both represent what activities the project team needs to complete and what resources are necessary for each work package.

In his book Project Management for Humans , Brett Harned emphasizes the importance of work breakdown structure:  "Creating a work breakdown structure for any plan or set of tasks helps you get granular about the work that needs to be done on any given project."

You can create a written work breakdown structure by:

  • Breaking down your project using a Kanban board like Trello
  • Mapping out tasks and timelines using Gantt charts in a project management tool like Asana  

Start by taking the project itself and breaking it down into large chunks or workstreams. For example, your initial workstreams for an e-commerce website would be setting up the site infrastructure and authentication, creating the cart system, and connecting the payment gateway. 

You can go further by breaking your workstreams into smaller deliverables (don’t forget to add managerial tasks at each level!). For the e-commerce website, tasks like buying a domain name, instituting website hosting, and load balancing all fall under setting up the site infrastructure. 

If you’re using a project management tool like Asana or Trello to create your WBS, you can integrate with Float to easily allocate tasks based on your team’s skills, availability, and capacity.

4. Set timelines  

Now that you have individual tasks created, you can set timelines for each activity. 

Project timelines help you estimate the completion date and keep things on track. Timelines are usually plotted on a Gantt chart or in a resource management tool like Float .

A view of projects in Float that supports the project planning process

A view of projects in Float that supports the project planning process.

A view of milestones in Float

A view of milestones in Float.

You can set timelines by comparing the duration of tasks in similar projects or asking your team how long specific tasks take them.  

Remember to add a buffer period for unplanned events like switching hosting providers or delays in getting approval from building control inspectors. "If there's a project I can get done in a week, I'll estimate two and half weeks for it. In case of unforeseen circumstances, I'd like to overestimate so I'll have more time," says David Ibia, CEO of BoxMarshall LLC .

Here are some other things to keep in mind when creating timelines: 

  • Set milestones for project phases : An example of a milestone could be that 2 months from the start date, the engineers will have completed their work on the backend of the e-commerce site . 
  • Be conscious of time constraints : Your timeline might have to fit the deadline given by clients. In this case, you may need to follow the critical path. 

Learn more about project timelines in our brief guide to project scheduling.

5. Determine and plan resources 

For a project to succeed, you need the right people and resources. 

The resource planning process in project management involves a lot of project assumptions and making estimates . But from the past steps—especially your WBS, scope, and goals—you should have a rough idea of what resources you need. 

For example, if you’re building an e-commerce website, you’ll need a developer, a designer, and a copywriter.  You’ll also need to purchase hosting and a domain name for the website. If they are a co-located team, you should provide a meeting room for collaboration. 

For a new house construction project, you’ll need masons, plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians, and materials like sand, rocks, wood, pipes, and wires. 

When planning your resources, ensure you:

  • Determine the skills/criteria you need 
  • Confirm future availability of resources 
  • Identify costs of resources, e.g., hourly rates 
  • Find out about special requirements, e.g., do you need to find a contractor who is licensed through a guild?

You’ll want to make sure that you have the people with the right skills and capacity to make the project a success. Also, ensure your plan shows clear ownership of tasks. One easy way is to use your WBS to create an organizational structure.

6. Estimate costs 

One of the challenges in the project planning process is balancing your budget with your stakeholders' desire to save money.

However, if you underestimate costs, you might find yourself without funds in the middle of the project. To approximate the cost of the project , you can use: 

  • Ballpark estimation: What do you think the entire project will cost based on project objectives and client expectations? This is not an exact figure. It could cost less or more, so let your clients know. Use this method when you need to give a cost estimate before determining things like your WBS or resources. 
  • Parametric estimation: Use historical data in your resource management tool and the cost of variables to estimate costs. Turn your WBS into a cost breakdown structure. You can take the prices of a unit of labor, such as a mason working at $23 an hour, and multiply it by the amount of time the project will take.  

Choose your method and establish an initial cost baseline . Make sure to include details about the contact person and processes for releasing the funds. For example, the team lead could approve spending for limited amounts, while larger amounts must be approved by the finance department. 

A convenient way to manage project budgets

Easily manage project budgets with Float by selecting hourly or dollar-value options, tracking billable or non-billable tasks, and monitoring real-time progress through reports. Simplify your budgeting process and stay on target with Float!

7. Determine risks and constraints 

No project exists without risks or constraints. The key to avoiding a project failure is identifying the potential pitfalls and creating an action plan to handle them.  

One way to properly prepare is to create a risk register—a document that lists all of the potential risks and information about them. Also, include an action plan to counter each project risk in your risk register .

8. Plan out communication 

Creating a communication blueprint is essential in developing a project plan. "No matter what role you’re playing on a project, if you’re not making a strong effort to communicate with your team, you will likely fail," says Harned.

Be sure to include details about the following:

  • Communication channels: This may be via email for clients, while team members might communicate primarily over Slack.
  • Frequency: This may be weekly,  on-demand asynchronously, or per milestone.
  • Communication type/details: Execs typically need fewer details and more high-level information, while team members who are actively working on the project need more granular information. 
  • Contact persons: Define who you go to and with what type of information to avoid delays.

Did you know?

Float centralizes your people and projects, so everyone can always see who’s working on what and when. Automate notifications via Slack, email, and mobile to let the team know when plans change.

9. Make plans for quality control and assurance

Planning for project quality control involves providing guidelines for managing, assuring, and maintaining standards within the project. 

Without a plan, it will be very tough to achieve your desired results. You might end up with a slow e-commerce website or a leaky plumbing system!

To set quality control metrics, you should:

  • Leverage in-house experts' knowledge of best practices
  • Reference industry standards—for example,  e-commerce sites need to have a secure and fast payment system 
  • Work with key stakeholders to determine expectations of quality 

Your plan should also include acceptance criteria, define the people in charge of verifying work, and set any corrective actions.

What are the components of a project plan?

The elements will vary from project to project, but here are some essential components every successful project plan should have: 

  • Scope: Define the boundaries of your project. What will be included and excluded in the entire project? 
  • Deliverables: Define what products/deliverables need to be submitted at the end of the project. 
  • Budget: Define how much the project will cost. One easy way is to use your WBS to create a cost breakdown structure by assigning costs to each task. 
  • Quality: Define how quality will be assured and controlled on the project.  
  • Schedule: Assign time to each project activity and people to tasks.  
  • Resourcing: Define what human and material resources will be needed to complete the project. 
  • Stakeholder management/communication: How will you communicate with your stakeholders and keep them in the loop? Define which stakeholder will be given what information at what times.    
  • Governance: To keep your project transparent and compliant, define which team members are responsible for project monitoring and decision-making. 
  • Risk: Enter all risks in a risk register. Also, include details about each risk and plans to combat them. 

Learn about the factors to successful project planning .

Try the #1 project planning software

More than 400 of the world’s top teams choose Float to plan, schedule, and track their team’s time. Rated #1 on G2 for resource management, Float gives you the most accurate view of your resource capacity to plan project work.

Why is project planning software important? 

Planning a project involves a lot of guesswork. The truth is, as accurate as you try to be, your estimates may still end up a bit off track. 

Project planning software makes this work easier by providing a central place to document and share plans with stakeholders. It allows you to automate timeline planning and milestone setting. It also provides reliable historical data to inform decisions for future projects. 

With project planning software, you can forecast potential risks and resource shortages before they happen. You can track the availability and capacity of resources and find the right skills in your resource pool, effectively planning your project from start to finish.

Not sure which tool is best for you? Check out our listicle of project planning tools that helps you evaluate each tool and choose one that works.

Project plans are not set in stone 

The planning phase is iterative. More often than not, you will need to change your project management plan to match reality. 

Don't hesitate to find a way to redistribute resources or cut costs if you are falling behind schedule. If your communication plan isn't working, reassess and try new ways to keep your stakeholders informed .  

A successful project requires contributions from everyone involved, and that’s only possible with a solid project plan.

Related reads

Project timelines: how to deliver projects on time and on budget, it resource management: best practices and expert tips, how to create a project work plan in 5 steps [+an example].

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Definition of project life cycle: Exploring the 5 phases

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When you’re starting a big project, establishing a foundation for success is crucial.  However, it can be tough to figure out where to begin. One key to success is understanding the project life cycle – a series of stages a project goes through from start to finish.

The project life cycle includes five main stages: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closure. Keeping an eye on the completion of each phase helps ensure the project stays on time and within budget. 

In this article, we’ll explore the definition of project life cycle in depth and show how tools like Jira can streamline and enhance each stage of the process.

What is the project life cycle?

The project management life cycle provides a structured plan for project managers to guide their projects to successful completion. It includes all the stages needed in a project – from the inception of an idea to the final implementation.

When project managers have a clear understanding of the various project management phases , they can see the big picture and better know how to handle each stage. These phases break the project down into simpler steps, making it easier for project managers to anticipate what’s coming next. This, in turn, helps them stay on track and ensure the project’s success. Using the right tools and methods also contributes to effective team management throughout the project life cycle.

The 5 project life cycle phases

The project life cycle outlines the different stages a project goes through from start to finish. It encompasses several key phases, each addressing different needs as the project progresses. This framework offers a high-level view of the project’s evolution, ensuring you hit important milestones along the way. There are typically five project life cycle phases : initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closure. 

Initiation is where you define the goals, scope, budget, and timeline. Planning follows, focusing on creating a detailed action plan. Execution then carries out the plans to deliver the product. Once the project begins, you must monitor the project and control for any deviations from the plan. Finally, closure involves wrapping up tasks, obtaining project acceptance, and archiving records.

Even though the names and exact number of phases may differ, most project life cycles follow a similar pattern of planning, execution, and closure. The key is to have a structured approach that helps manage resources, timelines, and deliverables as the project moves from one stage to the next. 

Throughout the phases, project managers monitor and control their teams' efforts, tracking progress and adjusting work as needed to keep the project on schedule and within budget.

Initiation phase

The initiation phase marks the beginning of a project, with the project manager defining the scope and objectives. During this phase, it’s vital to align stakeholders on common goals and lay the foundation for a successful project.

Next, the project manager creates a project charter , outlining the purpose, goals, and scope of the project. This charter includes the following key information:

  • Project purpose and justification
  • Main objectives and deliverables
  • Key stakeholders and team members

Initial schedule and budget estimates

The project manager also conducts a feasibility assessment to determine if the project is realistic and worthwhile.

Planning phase

During the planning phase, the project manager develops a detailed project plan and roadmap . This involves determining key scheduling details, resource allocation, and risks that could impact the project. The goal is to create a comprehensive map of how the team will execute the work.

Jira Product Discovery (JPD) helps gather and organize product ideas, features, and solutions, creating custom, up-to-date roadmaps that show which features the team will build, when, and why. JPD helps project managers identify and prioritize ideas or features that will have the most substantial impact on the project's success. 

Execution phase

During the execution phase, the team puts the project plan into action. The project manager plays a key role in coordinating resources, including people, tools, and materials, while also ensuring the team is well-informed about their individual tasks and timelines.

Jira Software (JSW) and Jira Work Management (JWM) offer simplified project tracking and enable seamless project management across both software and business teams, all while accommodating each team's unique working style. Jira Software is an Agile project management tool, while Jira Work Management (JWM) is a collaboration tool that helps teams track work activities.

Jira provides end-to-end management of this critical stage. The platform handles the day-to-day demands of executing complex projects, freeing up teams to focus on delivering work rather than struggling with spreadsheets and disjointed tools.

With Jira Software and Jira Work Management, project managers can assign tasks, set deadlines, and automate reminders so nothing slips through the cracks. With all their work in one place, they can understand how each task impacts the timeline and budget. This allows for immediate adjustments to keep the project moving forward.

Monitoring and controlling phase

The monitoring and controlling phase involves regularly checking project progress and team performance to ensure everything adheres to the project plan.

During this phase, the project manager identifies any deviations from the plan and budget, determining the cause to take corrective action. Tools such as status reports, time tracking, budget reports, risk management plans, and stakeholder reviews make it easy to see the most important metrics and milestones. To make changes to the plan, team members should submit a change request for approval. 

Closing phase

The closing phase marks the formal end of a project. During this phase, the focus is on getting final approvals and sign-offs, conducting a post-project review, identifying what went well, determining areas for improvement, and documenting lessons learned. These activities foster a culture of continuous learning and promote accountability and transparency.

Agile approaches to the project life cycle

In traditional project management, teams typically establish a fixed plan that does not change. Agile project management , on the other hand, allows for changes to the project plan. In the Agile methodology , teams engage in short, frequent check-ins and make adjustments. This approach focuses on iterative development, customer collaboration, and adaptability. The best methodology depends on the project type.

Scrum is a widely adopted Agile methodology in which Scrum teams work in time-boxed iterations, with daily stand-up meetings to discuss progress, challenges, and plans. In Kanban , another Agile methodology, teams visualize workflows using a Kanban board, allowing them to prioritize tasks and maintain a smooth workflow.

Benefits of effective project life cycle management

Effective project life cycle management streamlines processes in several ways:

  • Improved project visibility: Teams can proactively remove obstacles to ensure timely, high-quality results. This enables more effective decision-making.
  • Better risk management: Teams can spot risks early and find solutions. Regular risk checks ensure projects stay on time and avoid costly delays or failure.

Enhanced stakeholder communication: With regular updates, progress reports, and meetings, participants stay more informed and involved throughout the project life cycle.

Project managers can use Jira tools to organize and prioritize ideas, making it easy to create and share custom roadmaps with the team.

  • Jira Software breaks large projects into manageable tasks, tracks progress, and encourages teamwork.
  • Jira Work Management is a simplified work management solution for business teams that enables project collaboration and organization.
  • Jira Product Discovery works with JSW and JWM, providing context for and visibility into software development projects, business tasks, and more.

Ensure a successful project life cycle with Jira Product Discovery

Jira Software, a popular project management tool, offers several features and project planning templates to streamline processes and provide context and visibility for projects.

JPD helps with planning, tracking, and managing project phases. With JPD, product teams can neatly gather and organize product ideas, opportunities, features, and solutions within a centralized tool. This helps in the  prioritization of features to find those with the most significant impact.

JSW and JWM are effective project management tools that natively integrate with JPD, providing context for and visibility of all project tasks.

JWM, specifically designed for work management, encourages teamwork and collaboration. JSW, an Agile project management tool, integrates smoothly with JWM, simplifying project management.

Project life cycle: Frequently asked questions

How does agile differ from traditional project life cycles.

Agile and traditional project life cycle approaches differ significantly in their approach to change and planning. Agile is known for its flexibility and iterative nature, embracing change and promoting continuous review and adaptation. As the project progresses, the team continuously gathers new information, insights, and feedback, allowing them to understand what works and what doesn't. This enables them to make dynamic adjustments to the project plan to make it more effective and aligned with the project's goals.

Traditional approaches are more sequential and rigid. Project managers conduct detailed planning upfront, and the team adheres closely to the plan. In this approach, change is challenging to accommodate.

Each approach has advantages, but Agile is better suited for projects where change is expected or necessary.

How does project life cycle management contribute to organizational growth?

Project life cycle management helps teams optimize the utilization of resources, including people and tools. This improved efficiency allows teams to complete projects on time, contributing to the success of the organization.

What are the potential challenges faced during the project life cycle?

Project management can be complex and challenging, requiring careful attention to potential obstacles, such as scope creep, resource constraints, and communication breakdowns.

Scope creep happens when project requirements expand beyond what the team decided at the start of the project, leading to insufficient resources, delays, and deviations from the project plan. Change control processes help eliminate scope creep. Project managers must check the project's scope often, communicate changes, and involve stakeholders to make sure any changes match the project goals.

Resource constraints can cause delays, jeopardizing successful project completion. To overcome these resource issues, check your resources early in the project planning . Create a backup plan ahead of time. This is how you can find potential problems and think of solutions, like getting outside help or shifting your resources.

Productivity suffers when there are communication breakdowns , which encompass insufficient communication, disagreements, and poor collaboration. Creating a culture where people are happy to share information within the project team and holding regular meetings, both formal and casual, can keep everyone on the same page and prevent communication breakdowns. Project management tools, such as Jira, simplify communication, track progress, and simplify information sharing.

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The Project Life Cycle Explained: 5 Phases of Project Management

project planning phase

There are many ways to run a project. But to run a project successfully, you have to consider all aspects of the project—from scope and budget to the tasks and conversations that take place after the project is launched and executed.

Traditionally, project management involves 5 key phases, and these stages form what is known as a project life cycle. 

In this article, we’ll define the project life cycle and cover each phase of the project management process. We’ll also share resources and templates you can use at every step. 

What is the project life cycle?

The project life cycle is a framework that represents the 5 key phases of project management: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control, and closure. 

The project life cycle is important because it provides firm footing for effective project management. It gives project managers a clear structure for guiding projects successfully from concept to delivery, maturity, and finally completion.

5 phases of the project life cycle infographic

5 phases of the project management life cycle

As I mentioned, the project management life cycle is made up of 5 essential steps:

  • Project initiation & conception
  • Project planning
  • Project execution
  • Project monitoring & control
  • Project closure

In some ways, these stages show what goes on behind the scenes before a project might even come to a project manager’s attention.

If this process feels too rigid for you, that’s okay! Pick up the fundamentals, understand how the steps are formalized, and adapt the process to fit your project, team, or organization.

Now, let’s take a closer look at each step of the project life cycle in more detail.

1. Project initiation phase

Project initiation is arguably the most critical phase of the project life cycle. That's because what happens here will set the tone and goals for what’s to come. 

A project usually arises from a business need or goal aimed at solving a problem or exploring new ways to do business. For instance, if a company is looking to cut down the number of customer service calls they receive, they’ll investigate what’s driving the number of calls. That research will then inform what can be done to reduce the number of calls.

The best way to understand the challenges and objectives is through a project brief or charter that outlines the business case and provides a high-level overview of project details, such as goals, constraints, risks, and deliverables. This kind of background is invaluable to a team when kicking off a project. It’s also a great way to get all involved parties and stakeholders aligned on what’s to come.

While you can proceed without every detail documented, it’s a good idea to get buy-in on project objectives and intended outcomes during the initiation phase of the life cycle.

Key steps in the initiation stage of the project life cycle

  • Identify the why behind the project—usually the business case and goals
  • Conduct a feasibility study and/or SWOT analysis
  • Create a stakeholder register to identify key project players
  • Develop a project charter or brief
  • Hold a project kickoff meeting

2. Project planning phase

The project planning stage is where you’ll lay out the details of your entire project from beginning to end. The plan you create here will lead your team through the execution, performance, and closure phases of the project life cycle.

As part of your project management plan, you’ll want to consider these factors:

  • Project timeline : This should include deadlines for key project milestones (like deliverable reviews and meetings). Be sure to build in plenty of time for approval processes.
  • Project scope: Projects tend to go off the rails without some level of constraint or control. Clearly document how much time has been allotted for the project and what the deliverables include. You can always adjust the guardrails later if needed.
  • Project communication : Set expectations for how and when you’ll communicate as a team. Communication plans are particularly valuable for projects with cross-functional teams or external stakeholders.
  • Potential risks : It’s the project manager’s job to look out for risks and report them to the team. The best way to do this is to conduct a risk assessment that identifies foreseeable risks and how to avoid them.
  • Project estimates : Good estimation sets the stage for better project management because it’s easier to tell when things go off track. Consider using a work breakdown structure (WBS) to itemize tasks and estimate effort. 
  • General workflow and process : This should include internal workflows for project teams, as well as how you’ll work with stakeholders, to ensure you get it all done on time and under budget.
  • Team roles and responsibilities : A responsibility assignment matrix can help you outline clear roles for everyone involved in the project.

Once you estimate the project’s time and effort , you can create a project plan that lays out phases, tasks, resources, responsibilities, milestones, and deadlines. Using a gantt chart tool like TeamGantt can truly help you to build a well-defined plan that’s easy to understand and update.

Explore our library of free project management templates , and save time on every aspect of your project plan.

Key steps in the planning stage of the project life cycle

  • Set SMART goals for the project
  • Define and document the project scope and requirements
  • Create a project roadmap with a detailed timeline of tasks and milestones
  • Estimate project time and costs
  • Assess resource availability and assign task roles and responsibilities
  • Catalog potential project risks and establish a contingency plan
  • Document expectations for project communication
  • Create a stakeholder engagement plan
  • Develop a procurement plan for third-party suppliers and tools
  • Outline a financial plan that fits the project budget

3. Project execution phase

In this phase of the project life cycle, the team is off and running! The project execution stage is typically the longest in the project management process because it’s when the actual work is done. You’ll find teams collaborating, reviewing work, presenting to stakeholders, and revising.

In the previous phase, a project manager does a lot of heavy-lifting. During project execution, a project manager guides the team—and stakeholders—through a series of tasks and milestones.

In this life cycle step, a project manager typically oversees the project budget, timeline, resources, and risk. That’s a lot to be responsible for! So how do project managers handle all of it? They stick to the plan. 

All of the documentation you create during the planning stage comes together to form a holistic project management plan. Use those documents as your source of truth to guide decisions and create efficient workflows during project execution.

Don’t forget to stay tuned-in to what’s happening with the team. This can be done through regular team check-ins, status updates, timeline review, and budget tracking.

Having a single platform to track your budget, timeline, resourcing, and communications certainly makes managing a project easier. Lucky for you, TeamGantt does it all .

Key steps in the execution stage of the project life cycle

  • Provide easy channels for team collaboration
  • Establish streamlined workflows for your team
  • Schedule and lead regular project meetings
  • Send project status reports to stakeholders
  • Facilitate reviews and approvals of project deliverables
  • Clear blockers that get in the way of progress

4. Project monitoring & control phase

The monitoring and control phase is all about making sure the project runs smoothly and things go according to plan. This step of the process typically happens alongside project execution. 

As part of the project monitoring stage, you should keep an eye on:

  • Budget and timeline : Keep a close eye on milestone completion and whether time spent on tasks aligns with your estimates. That way you can spot delays and overages early and adjust your plan before things get too far off track. TeamGantt makes it easy to track and monitor progress with simple visualizations built into your gantt chart.
  • Project goals : Use those goals to help make decisions about design, functionality, and any new requests. Sometimes it’s okay to stray a bit. Just be sure to keep the lines of communication open with the stakeholders, and bring new ideas to the table with enough time to rework them as needed. (Yup, it happens!)
  • Quality control : Be the person who not only manages the process, but also cares about the work. Consult with leadership on quality standards, and review all deliverables before they’re sent out or presented for review. Your team and stakeholders will love you for it. 😍
  • Risk management : Risk is a conversation you want to keep going throughout the project. Report on project risks in weekly status updates to keep them top-of-mind and allow the team to provide input.
  • Team performance : As a project manager, your role is to look out for the project. But the success of a project depends on the team working on it. If you see someone slacking or unintentionally dropping the ball, address it. Just be empathetic, and find the right avenues to handle performance issues with team members.

TeamGantt’s Project Health Report makes it easy to monitor team performance and stay on top of deadlines by showing you which tasks are falling behind before your project goes off the rails.

Example of TeamGantt's project health report for monitoring and control phase

Key steps in the monitoring stage of the project life cycle

  • Review timesheets to ensure hours logged stay within budget
  • Track task and milestone completion
  • Compare actual progress against the plan to spot potential delays
  • Track baselines and report on project health
  • Monitor and manage scope creep and other risks
  • Manage change requests and adjust the plan as needed

5. Project closure phase

When your project is complete and everyone is happy with what’s been delivered, tested, and released, it’s time to wrap up. In the project closure stage, the team will complete the steps needed to close tasks, hand off the project to stakeholders, finalize any reporting, and celebrate the project.

Many organizations move from one project to the next and don’t take time to properly close down a project. It’s a smart move to take a few hours to properly close, reflect, and even celebrate a project.

Here are a few steps to consider in this final stage of the project management life cycle.

  • Conduct a project retrospective: Schedule a project debrief, and discuss what went well and what didn’t as a team. Record the outcomes, and share the notes to improve teamwork and performance on future projects.
  • Create a project closure report: Write a 1-page report that recaps project goals and results. This document should outline the date of initiation, original deadline and budget, and actual date of delivery and budget used. You might also want to include team members and stakeholders involved, project issues and pain points, and project wins in your project closure report.
  • Celebrate the project: ‍Organize a small party over lunch or after work to get the team and stakeholders together to acknowledge the hard work done and the great product produced. 🎉 If there’s no budget, that’s fine. A high-five or thoughtful email works really well when it comes to team morale.

As the project manager, the more you can be a cheerleader for your team, the better experience you’ll have working with them.

Key steps in the closing stage of the project life cycle

  • Secure final approval and hand the end product off to the project sponsor or client
  • Hold a post-mortem meeting to review project wins and hiccups
  • Store all the final project documentation in a centralized archive
  • Send final payments to contractors and suppliers

Put the project management life cycle to work for you

Processes and frameworks are great to have in your back pocket. But remember, every organization runs differently. 

You have to consider the people, organizational history, challenges, and existing practices before you roll something out. 

Motivations and empathy are everything in project management. So carry on, attack those projects, and do what’s right for everyone involved.

Simplify your project management process

Want to take the pain out of project management without sacrificing your hard-earned gains? TeamGantt makes every project step a whole lot easier. (Heck, we’d even call it fun!) 

Spend less time in spreadsheets and more time giving your team high-fives for all the awesome work you’re doing together. TeamGantt provides clear visibility into the details with easy collaboration for the whole team every step of the way. 

Give TeamGantt a free try today!

Try TeamGantt for free today!

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5 project management phases to improve your team’s workflow

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There are five key project management phases that can help streamline your next project and enable your team with an organized plan. These phases include initiation, planning, execution, performance, and closure.

Project management is often misunderstood. While many professionals view it as managing project timelines, there is so much more to the job. Thankfully, we’ve put together an easy guide to understanding the five project management phases. 

5 phases of the project management life cycle

This five-phase model was defined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the project life cycle PMBOK® Guide, otherwise known as the Project Management Body of Knowledge. The PMBOK® Guide is a great reference point for all professionals looking to grow their project management knowledge and skillset. 

Let’s start with a quick introduction to the many phases of project management. Or, skip ahead to the project management triangle .

The 5 phases of project management

1. Project initiation

In the initiation phase of the project management model, the project is defined on a broad level. This is the time to identify project sponsors and stakeholders and begin the initial research phase. It’s also a good idea to document the project in writing so you can easily distribute the communication plan to the rest of the team. Many teams begin a project with an initial project kickoff meeting or feasibility study . How you decide to kick it off should depend on your team’s preferred communication style . 

In addition to presenting the initial idea of the project, you should also outline the benefits, cost, and risk factors associated with project deliverables . You may even want to outline additional metrics depending on how your organization measures success. 

Once you’ve assessed the project, you’ll then create a business case or—for smaller projects—a project charter . These tools can help you outline and pitch your project in-depth, incorporating details such as the project’s goals, budget, and timeline. Whether you create a business case or a project charter, these tools are particularly helpful for referencing later and quickly pinpointing the project’s objectives down the road.  

Here’s an example of what should be included in a business case or project charter. 

Company Name: Apollo Enterprises

Project Name: The OKR Playbook

Project Manager: Kabir Madan

Objective: The objective of this report is to increase lead generation by offering world-class resources to our customer base. 

Stakeholders: Daniela Vargas, Kat Mooney, Ray Brooks. 

Timeline: June 1 to July 20, 2021. 

Benefits: The benefits of this report include adapting a new competitive advantage, creating a new lead funnel, and ultimately resulting in a high ROI given the low project budget. 

Risks: While we see more benefits than risks, we could be pulling in unqualified leads that won’t convert. 

2. Project planning

In the project planning stage of project management, you’ll create clear goals using a project roadmap . While there are multiple ways to execute goal planning, SMART goals, CLEAR goals, and objectives and key results (OKRs) are three project planning strategies that can help you get started.  

[Inline illustration] SMART goals (Infographic)

SMART goals

SMART goals is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Many teams use this method because of its ability to improve team communication, define a clear roadmap, and result in trackable metrics.

CLEAR goals

CLEAR goals is an acronym that stands for Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, and Refinable. Many teams opt for this method because it’s a little more realistic to put into practice and focuses on collaboration. 

OKRs differ more significantly from the other two methods. This method can open goals up to the entire company, creating visibility throughout an organization. Instead of starting with a project and then defining the objective, OKRs start with the objective and then create projects around that g  

SMART goals vs. CLEAR goals vs. OKRs 

While the three strategies take different approaches, they all drive similar results. It’s up to you to choose the method that most closely matches your business objective. 

Additional resources you may use in the project planning phase of project management include milestone charts, Gantt charts , and project risk management analyses —all of which can help clarify details for stakeholders. While these areas may have been discovered during the initial scope of the project , the planning phase is the perfect time to expand on the objectives, goals, and risks. 

Here’s an example we put together of a goal breakdown using the SMART project management methodology.

Initial goal: Increase lead generation

Improved SMART goal:

Specific: Increase lead generation by distributing a resource guide

Measurable: Increase monthly lead generation by 15%. 

Achievable: Based on a recent study, we know our customers are interested in a resource guide.

Realistic: Collect customer contact information in exchange for our resource guide.

Time-Bound: Produce an annual resource guide every January to maintain our lead traffic. 

3. Project execution

In the execution phase, your team will focus on achieving the objectives that were set. They will use the information gathered in the first two steps to create and launch the project within the specified timeframe using teamwork and collaboration. 

Start by assigning tasks to team members. If you already use a project management tool, you can add these tasks to your project workflow so your team can quickly access resources and communicate in one place. Timeline software and other project mapping tools can help your team visualize each step of the project . 

Next, you should prepare your tracking and success methodology so that everyone clearly understands how success will be measured. These could be specific performance indicators you plan to track or post-campaign goals you’re looking to meet. 

Since deadlines and workloads change daily, make sure to update the project schedule as needed and close out dependencies once met. If you have a drop-dead deadline, make sure you organize your team’s schedule based on priority. It’s a good idea to check in with team members regularly to make sure the project is on pace and that deliverables are being met. 

Although schedules fluctuate, it’s important to stay as close to the original timeline as possible so you don’t run into scope creep. In other words, don’t go too far past the original scope of the project.

Take a look at this example timeline plan to better understand how to organize a work breakdown structure . 

Project Timeline: June 1 to July 20, 2021

Project Team: Kabir Madan, Daniela Vargas, Kat Mooney, Ray Brooks

June 1: Kabir to set up project tasks and assign to team members. 

June 14: Daniela to gather resource data.

June 18: Daniela to organize data and submit to Ray for design. 

June 28: Ray to submit design draft 1 to Kabir for review. 

July 1: Kabir to provide design feedback.

July 6: Ray to submit the final design to Kat for implementation.

July 12: Kat to submit staging site to Kabir for review. 

July 15: Kabir to provide staging feedback.

July 19: Kat to submit the final staging to the team for testing. 

July 20: Resource guide to go live.

4. Project performance

Measuring the effectiveness of a project is important for several reasons. Being able to improve the project is a big one, but it’s also important because team members can learn from both success and failure. There are many different key performance indicators (KPIs) you can use to set and achieve strategic goals using goal setting software . The KPIs you use will depend on your line of work and the type of project you’re working on.  

Set and achieve strategic goals

One of the first performance metrics you should consider is the initial objective. Did the project address the problem you were trying to solve? It’s easy to get disconnected from the initial objective but it’s important to keep it in mind when measuring performance. 

Your next step should be to examine other KPIs to determine if the project was a success. Some universal KPIs include return on investment (ROI), cost performance index (CPI), planned value (PV), actual cost (AC), and earned value (EV)—though there are many more than just those. 

Communicate to stakeholders on the success of the project, including what went right and what went wrong. Being honest and open to feedback is the best way for team members to learn from their mistakes.

Take a look at our example KPIs below. 

Project Objective: Grow lead acquisition by 15% MoM

Actual Cost: $6,487 in billable hours. 

Earned Value: $47,300 in MoM acquisition growth

Return on Investment: $40,813

Schedule Performance Index (earned value divided by planned value): .88

Customer Acquisition Cost (cost divided by number of leads): $.61 per lead

MoM Lead Acquisition: 18% improvement

MoM Site Traffic: 4% improvement

Net Profit Margin: 8% improvement

5. Project closure

This phase varies the most between different companies and teams. While some like to acknowledge hard work, others like to immediately get started on the next big thing. There is no right or wrong way to close a project, and it’s up to you to figure out what works best for you and your team. 

When closing a project, you may want to meet with project stakeholders for a more in-depth look at success. This type of meeting is often referred to as a “ post mortem .” If you decide to host a meeting, you may want to send out an anonymous survey beforehand to ensure all critical issues are covered during the meeting. It’s a good idea to go over the KPIs you measured in the performance phase so all parties involved have a clear understanding of what did and didn’t go well. This prevents any repeat mistakes in future projects. 

It’s also a good idea to organize and store project materials in a shared folder for teammates to access before closing a project. Materials such as project briefs , templates, copy assets, design files, development work, and so forth are important to keep handy when the time comes to evaluate performance.  

An important opportunity that is often missed in the project closure phase is continuing to monitor performance. Does your team get in the habit of setting and forgetting old projects? It’s important to constantly test and reinvent new ways to execute projects to continue growing as a business. 

Here is an example of a post mortem meeting agenda to help bring your next project to a close.  

Project Name: The OKR Playbook 

Date: August 20, 2021

Time: 10:00 to 11:00 am CST

Agenda Details:

Quick recap of the project (10:00am): Kabir will go over the initial goals and objectives of the project and recap deliverables. 

Recap of the outcome (10:15am): Kabir will review the project performance, focusing on our initial lead generation goal and additional key KPIs.

Stakeholder input (10:30am): Kabir, Daniela, Kat, and Ray to share their input on what went well and what could have gone better.

Action items: Kabir to send out meeting notes by EOD 8/20 and schedule optimizations to be completed by 9/3. 

Please come to the post mortem prepared with input on ways we can improve performance going forward. 

Benefits of project management with the five phases

Managing a project can often feel like navigating through uncharted territory, where unexpected challenges and shifting priorities can lead to project derailment. The adoption of the five project management phases—initiation, planning, execution, performance, and closure—provides a structured solution to this problem, ensuring that every aspect of the project is methodically addressed.

By adhering to these five phases, project managers can ensure more systematic and organized project execution, which leads to more successful projects. Here's what you can expect.

Improved team collaboration and stakeholder engagement

In the initiation phase, defining the project's scope and identifying key stakeholders sets a clear direction. For example, initiating a new product development project involves determining the product's concept and engaging stakeholders, which ensures that everyone is on the same page from the start.

Strategic resource allocation and management planning

The planning phase involves creating a detailed management plan and deciding how to allocate resources effectively. In a software development project, this might include allocating team members to different tasks, planning the development timeline, and ensuring efficient use of resources.

Effective execution and adaptability

The project execution phase is where the actual work happens. Using Agile methodologies here allows teams to adapt to changes in real time, improving responsiveness and project progress. For instance, in a construction project, this phase would involve the actual building process, with adjustments made as needed based on ongoing assessment.

Ongoing monitoring of project progress

The monitoring and controlling phase involves project monitoring to track progress and ensure that the project is on schedule and within budget. In a marketing campaign, this might mean regularly reviewing campaign metrics to ensure that the project is on track to meet its goals.

Structured closing and comprehensive documentation

Finally, the closing phase includes project closing activities such as finalizing work, obtaining necessary approvals, and conducting a post-project evaluation. In event management, this might include post-event analysis and storing all documentation for future reference, marking the end of the current phase of the project management life cycle and preparing for the next phase. 

Proper project documentation during this phase helps capture lessons learned and provides valuable insights for future projects.

Tips to apply project management phases effectively

With the average knowledge worker switching between 10 apps up to 25 times per day and the majority of teams still working remotely, teamwork has never been more distributed. This makes project management such an important part of any successful organization. Whether you’re a team of five or 500, keeping tasks and communication organized and in one place can be a challenge. Using these five project management steps can help your team stay on track and ensure productivity is at its highest.

Benefits of project management

In addition to understanding the project management life cycle, there are also additional benefits of project management. Not only can the right project management tools keep work and goals organized in one place, but they can also eliminate confusion, improve team effectiveness , increase efficiency, and align communication. That leaves more time to focus on the important stuff—like growing a successful business. 

A good place to start improving your current methods is by continuously learning about new tools and resources. While project management methods like kanban boards and Scrum sprints have been around for some time, there are new software capabilities that can help your team reach a new level of productivity and success. The key to project management is to never stop trying new methods.  

Managing the unmanageable

With so many elements to explore, where do you even start? That’s easy: start by looking to your team. At the end of the day, your job is to enable team members to do their best work. 

The project management process and tools you implement should improve communication, increase productivity with the help of productivity software , and help ease deadline pressure. When in doubt, just ask your team. You’d be amazed at what a group of individuals can accomplish when they put their heads together. 

Need help finding work management tools for a specific team? Check out solutions for every team dynamic —from marketing to event planners—to find innovative opportunities for your organization. 

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The Four Phases of Project Management

  • HBR Editors

project planning phase

Planning, build-up, implementation, and closeout.

Whether you’re in charge of developing a website, designing a car, moving a department to a new facility, updating an information system, or just about any other project (large or small), you’ll go through the same four phases of project management: planning, build-up, implementation, and closeout. Even though the phases have distinct qualities, they overlap.

  • HE This story is by the staff at Harvard Business Review.

project planning phase

Partner Center

Tactical Project Manager

Project phases: An overview with real examples

  • by Adrian Neumeyer

Project management phases: the simple view

  • Preparation phase
  • Execution phase
  • Closing phase
  • A building is finalized and the customer makes his final inspection.
  • Employees are trained for a new process to be used in a company.
  • A product is packaged and shipped to the customer. That sort of stuff.

A closer look at the project phases

The 5 project management phases:.

  • Project Concept & Initiation
  • Project Definition and Planning
  • Project Launch or Execution
  • Project Performance & Control
  • Project Close

project planning phase

Phase 1: Project Concept & Initiation

Phase 2: project planning.

95% of your project’s success depends on how well you plan things

  • Define roles and responsibilities  – What kind of skills or people do you need in the project? And what do you expect from each of those members?
  • Create a scope statement  – The scope statement is a document which clearly states what the project is expected to deliver. It also defines the boundaries, i.e. what is not expected from the project.
  • Create a project plan (Gantt chart)  – Create a project Gantt chart to visualize the flow of the project. This will give everyone on the team clarity on what has to be done by when. Need a good template? Get my project plan template for Excel .
  • Define key milestones  – Milestones are goals which have to be accomplished during the project. A milestone could be specification completed or product prototype completed .
  • Set up a communication plan  – A simple table which shows how the team and stakeholders will communicate throught the project. Communication can happen in the form of meetings or by email.
  • Perform a risk analysis  – It is always better to be prepared for issues than to be surprised. Do a risk analysis to identify the most critical risks and have a “plan B” ready in your pocket.

Phase 3: Project Launch or Execution

Phase 4: project performance & control.

  • Are the project targets being met?  – Projects are launched with a specific purpose in mind. As project manager, you should constantly monitor whether the project is on track to meet those targets.
  • Are we still within budget?  – Tracking effort and cost is one of the necessary (but most disliked) tasks of a PM. Set aside a few hours for it every month, and get my project budget template to make your life easy.
  • Are we deviating from scope?  – Every now and then, a project will face unforeseen changes. The customer may say: ‘I’ve changed my mind. I want the building to be painted blue, not orange.’   Such change request have to be evaluated by the project team. Maybe the changes require extra budget or require special skills to be implemented.

Phase 5: Project Close

Don’t let the project phases restrict you, do you have any questions, got a question need some help.

Have a question about this article? Need some assistance with this topic (or anything else)?  Send it in and I’ll get back to you personally. 

Adrian Neumeyer

Hi! I'm Adrian, former Senior IT Project Manager and founder of Tactical Project Manager. I created the site to help you become an excellent project leader and manage intense projects with success!

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Demystifying the 5 Phases of Project Management

By Kate Eby | May 29, 2018 (updated December 27, 2023)

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At the root of any successful project is a project manager (PM) worth his or her weight in gold. While some people think a project manager’s sole job is to remind everyone about deadlines and set up status meeting, that’s simply not the case.

There is a science to what they do -- they have a deep understanding of and can perfectly execute the five phases of project management. In this article, we’ll cover what each of these phases entail and share tips for boosting success during each stage.

Developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI) , the five phases of project management include conception and initiation, project planning, project execution , performance/monitoring, and project close . PMI, which began in 1969, is the world’s largest nonprofit membership association for the project management profession. It has set the standards for project, program, and portfolio management and offers training and certifications. The gold standard of certification from the association is the Project Management Professional (PMP) ® certification. There are seven other certifications available for different types of project management.

In an effort to standardize project management information and practices, a team of over 80 PMI members created the text, A Guide to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK ® Guide)  Currently in its fifth edition, the PMBOK ® Guide is continually being updated by the PMI and shares the fundamental best practices that are used worldwide to achieve the best results. The PMBOK ® Guide includes a process standard that can be applied to many projects; however, it does recognize that each project is different. It is up to PMPs to apply the techniques and phases covered in the PMBOK ® Guide to the unique requirements of their project.

PMBOK® Guide Concept of the Project Life Cycle

According to the PMBOK® Guide, the elements of a project lifecycle should define the work the project will accomplish, the deliverables it will produce, the team members involved, and how you will control and approve each project phase.

Determining these elements will take a project from start to finish. These project controls provide a systematic and  timely process that benefits a project’s stakeholders. This helps PMs define what needs to be accomplished before moving onto the next phase of a project.

Simple, powerful project management with Smartsheet. See for yourself.

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Smartsheet is a cloud-based platform that allows teams and organizations to plan, manage, and report on projects, helping you move faster and achieve more. See Smartsheet in action.  

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the 101 guide to project management

Ready to get more out of your project management efforts? Visit our comprehensive project management guide for tips, best practices, and free resources to manage your work more effectively.

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5 Phases of Project Management

Project management can be divided into five phases. First, stakeholders initiate the project, and then define and plan it. Next, the team executes the project and monitors its performance. Finally, once the project is completed, it must be closed out.

Five Phases of Project Management

Download a Phased Project Plan Template for PowerPoint | Google Slides

Phase 1: Project Initiation

The goal of project initiation is to broadly define the project. This process usually begins with a business case or project charter. If research or feasibility testing is necessary, you should complete it during this phase.

Important stakeholders will do their due diligence to help decide if the project is a “go.” If it is given the green light, you will need to create a project charter or a project initiation document (PID) that provides an overview of the purpose and requirements of the project. It should provide a description of the business needs, stakeholders, and the business case. Note: There are plenty of PID templates that adhere to PMBOK® Guide guidelines available online that you can download to help you get started.

Tip: When creating a PID, don’t get too bogged down in technical requirements. Those will be clarified and clearly defined in Phase 2.

Phase 2: Project Planning

The planning phase is key to successful project management and focuses on developing a roadmap for the team to follow. During the planning phase, project managers should organize their teams, set up collaborative resources, and set goals.

Two of the more popular methods for setting goals are S.M.A.R.T. and CLEAR:

smart goals project planning

S.M.A.R.T. Goals – This method helps ensure that the goals have been thoroughly vetted. It also provides a way to clearly understand the implications of the goal-setting process.

S pecific – To set specific goals, answer the following questions: who, what, where, when, which, and why. M easurable – Create criteria that you can use to measure the success of a goal. A ttainable – Identify the most important goals and what it will take to achieve them. R ealistic – You should be willing and able to work toward a particular goal. T imely – Create a timeframe to achieve the goal.

For more information about S.M.A.R.T. goals and to download free S.M.A.R.T. goal templates, read " The Essential Guide to Writing S.M.A.R.T. Goals ."

C.L.E.A.R. Goals – A newer method for setting goals that takes into consideration the environment of today’s fast-paced businesses.

C ollaborative – The goal should encourage employees to work together. L imited – They should be limited in scope and time to keep it manageable. E motional – Goals should tap into the passion of employees and be something they can form an emotional connection to. This can optimize the quality of work. A ppreciable – Break larger goals into smaller tasks that can be quickly achieved. R efinable – As new situations arise, be flexible and refine goals as needed.   During this phase, the scope of the project is defined and a project management plan is developed. It involves identifying the cost, quality, available resources, and a realistic timetable. The project plan also includes establishing baselines or performance measures. These are generated using the scope, schedule and cost of a project. A baseline is essential to determine if a project is on track.   At this time, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, so everyone involved knows what they are accountable for. Here are some of the documents a PM will create during this phase to ensure the project will stay on track:

  • Scope Statement – A document that clearly defines the project , including the business need, benefits of the project, objectives , deliverables, and key milestones. A scope statement may change during the project, but it shouldn’t be done without the approval of the project manager and the sponsor.
  • Work Breakdown Schedule (WBS) –This is a visual representation that breaks down the scope of the project into manageable sections for the team.
  • Milestones – Identify high-level goals that need to be met throughout the project and include them in the Gantt chart.
  • Gantt Chart – A visual timeline that you can use to plan out tasks and visualize your project timeline.
  • Communication Plan – This is of particular importance if your project involves outside stakeholders. Develop the proper messaging around the project and create a schedule of when to communicate with team members based on deliverables and milestones.
  • Risk Management Plan – Identify all foreseeable risks. Common risks include unrealistic time and cost estimates, customer review cycle, budget cuts, changing requirements, and lack of committed resources.

To learn more about project management terms and documents, read our glossary of project management terminology.

Tip : When creating a WBS, work packages shouldn’t be longer than 10 days. Be sure to solicit the input and perspective from team members about their specific tasks.

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Phase 3: Project Execution

During the project execution phase, the team develops and completes deliverables. This phase begins with a kick-off meeting, is marked by the onset of status reports and updates, and transitions into performance and monitoring as the project progresses.

Tasks completed during the Execution Phase include:

  • Project introduction and kick-off
  • Develop team
  • Assign resources
  • Execute project management plans
  • Procurement management if needed
  • PM directs and manages project execution
  • Set up tracking systems
  • Task assignments are executed
  • Status meetings
  • Update project schedule
  • Modify project plans as needed

 While the project monitoring phase has a different set of requirements, these two phases often occur simultaneously.   Tip: Consider using cloud-based project management software so team members can update task status in real time.

Phase 4: Project Performance and Monitoring

Project performance and monitoring ensures that project results align with the management plan. Project managers use key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine if the project is on track. We’ve outlined the most common KPIs for performance tracking below:

key performance indicator

  • Project Objectives : Measuring if a project is on schedule and budget is an indication if the project will meet stakeholder objectives.
  • Quality Deliverables : This determines if specific task deliverables are being met.
  • Effort and Cost Tracking: PMs will account for the effort and cost of resources to see if the budget is on track. This type of tracking informs if a project will meet its completion date based on current performance.
  • Project Performance: This monitors changes in the project. It takes into consideration the amount and types of issues that arise and how quickly they are addressed. These can occur from unforeseen hurdles and scope changes.

During this time, PMs may need to adjust schedules and resources to ensure the project is on track

Tip : Review the business case at the end of each phase and make adjustments to the project plan as needed.

Phase 5: Project Close

Once a project is complete, the team must formally close it. Project managers generally hold a post mortem meeting to evaluate successes and failures. Project close helps a team identify things that went well and areas for improvement.

Once the project is complete, PMs still have a few tasks to complete before it is officially closed . They will need to create a project punchlist of things that didn’t get accomplished during the project and work with team members to complete them. Perform a final project budget and prepare a final project report. Finally, they will need to collect all project deliverables and  documents and store them in a single place.   Tip: Using a cloud-based software solution is an easy way to collect and save all project documents in one location throughout the life of the project.

Smartsheet for Project Management

Empower your people to go above and beyond with a flexible platform designed to match the needs of your team — and adapt as those needs change. 

The Smartsheet platform makes it easy to plan, capture, manage, and report on work from anywhere, helping your team be more effective and get more done. Report on key metrics and get real-time visibility into work as it happens with roll-up reports, dashboards, and automated workflows built to keep your team connected and informed. 

When teams have clarity into the work getting done, there’s no telling how much more they can accomplish in the same amount of time.  Try Smartsheet for free, today.

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Project Planning

project planning phase

What is project planning?

Definition: Project planning is a crucial part of project management focused on creating a detailed plan that outlines the steps and resources necessary to achieve the project's objectives, including identifying the project's scope, establishing a timeline, assigning tasks and resources, and budgeting for the project. 

Project planning is an iterative process , and the project plan may need to be adjusted as the project progresses. It is important to regularly review and update the project plan to ensure that it stays on track and meets its objectives.

Phases of project planning

Project planning is a critical element of project management, as it sets the stage for the entire project. There are eight steps:

  • Define the goals and objectives of the project

Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. This includes the milestones and smaller tasks the team must complete by the end of the project. It is important to get input from all stakeholders when creating the work plan to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

  • Develop the project plan

Define the project's scope by creating a work breakdown structure, schedule, and budget. The work breakdown structure details the tasks that need to be completed, the schedule outlines the timeline for the project, while the budget identifies the resources required and costs associated with the project.

  • Identify the project risks

The project manager makes a plan for the unexpected. This includes possible solutions to manage potential risk. A contingency plan is included in case something goes wrong.

  • Create a communication plan

The communication plan dictates who's to be updated on the project’s progress and how often. This ensures everyone is on the same page.

  • Assign roles and responsibilities

Each team member needs to know what is expected of them. This includes their deliverables and deadlines. The project manager assigns tasks depending on each member's strengths and weaknesses. This ensures tasks are completed effectively, and the project stays on track.

  • Obtain approvals

The project lead presents the plan to the company's CEO for approval. Once approved, the head of marketing is responsible for ensuring that all tasks are completed on time and within budget. 

  • Launch the project

A kickoff meeting marks the beginning of the execution phase. It sets the pace for the project. This is when the team puts all the pieces together and starts working towards the project goals. To organize a successful kickoff meeting:

  • Ensure all the stakeholders are in attendance. Reschedule if a key person is unavailable on the chosen day.
  • Create a detailed, clear and concise agenda.
  • Monitoring and evaluation

The project manager monitors and adjusts the plan as needed to ensure the successful completion of the project.

Types of project planning

The type of planning depends on the nature of the project and personal preferences. There are three types of project planning: vertical, horizontal, and joint.

Vertical planning

Also known as waterfall planning, vertical planning is when the project manager plans the different phases of the project sequentially, from start to finish.

Horizontal planning

Horizontal planning is when the different parts of the project are planned simultaneously. This type of planning is also known as agile planning.

Joint planning

This is a mix of both vertical and horizontal planning. Part of the project is planned sequentially, and some parts are planned at the same time. This type of planning is also known as integrated planning.

Example of project planning

Company X plans to launch a new product, and the head of product marketing is assigned to create a project plan.

  • Enhance awareness into an eco-conscious demographic subsection to strengthen customer relationships and brand loyalty.
  • Aim to sell over 15,000 units in Q1.
  • Achieve 80% customer satisfaction rating in user testing.


Project sponsor: Molly - LiquiTech

Project lead : Graham

Development: Ridge

Design: Leah

Marketing: Mindy and Alec

Support: Dylan and Hope

Project plan

Project start: 01st April

Project end: 15th September

$5,000 - Advertising, market research, and product development

$3,000 - HR tasks including customer service, social media, and sales

$12,000 - Material resources for product development, packaging, and shipping

$2,000 - Contingency


  • Update buyer personas
  • Product documentation
  • Legal obligations
  • Usability testing plan
  • Internal company education
  • Sales training
  • New product marketing campaign

Risks analysis  

  • Increasing production costs
  • Technology risks
  • Market risks
  • Performance risks
  • Financial risk

Communication plan

Team to communicate primarily on Company X’s collaboration platform. Weekly reports to be shared via email on Fridays by COB. Individual progress reports to be uploaded on the platform every fortnight.

Kickoff meeting

Launch date

11:11 am, 1st April 2023

Marketing channels

To utilize social media platforms to run giveaways two weeks before and after the product launch, plus online ads to reach members of the intended audience.

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Planning Phase: Nail the project planning process

project planning phase

Project planning isn’t always an easy, straightforward process and balancing scope, timelines, and budgets with key stakeholders’ needs may feel daunting.

But with the right process, planning doesn’t have to be stressful. By the end of this article, you’ll learn a step-by-step process that makes project planning easier and maybe even fun.

Let’s start with the basics.

The 5 Project Management Phases

  • PHASE 1: Project Initiation
  • PHASE 2: Project Planning
  • PHASE 3: Project Execution
  • PHASE 3: Project Monitoring
  • PHASE 4: Project Close-out 

What is project planning?

Project planning is a strategy that lays out the objectives and scope for the project team, company, and stakeholders. Project planning is the second step in the project management life cycle:

During the project planning process, you want to identify:

  • What you want to accomplish
  • The completion date
  • How much it will cost
  • Who’s involved and for which steps and stages?
  • Which steps you’ll take to ensure it’s a success

The project plan sets a clear roadmap of action to achieve your goals. It should cover every aspect of the project, from the scope to costs, task dependencies, communication, risk, quality, and even stakeholder engagement. Sometimes, it’s helpful to break all of these responsibilities for this project phase into smaller pieces.

What are some typical tasks within the project planning phase?

As we mentioned above, a project plan can help your team understand what’s required of them and when, help you get an idea of progress, and how long the process should take. During the project planning phase, you’ll:

  • Decide on a budget
  • Set a project schedule or timeline
  • Identify resources and any roadblocks and plan for those scenarios
  • Ensure required resources are available
  • Define project objectives, roles, deadlines, responsibilities, and project milestones

The above tasks may, while potentially time-consuming initially, can help you save on resources later on throughout the process. But project planning doesn’t just provide a list of all project components—its benefits extend far beyond that.

Why is project planning an important part of the project management process?

With so many variables, no project manager can guarantee a project will run smoothly, but project planning can reduce chaos and uncertainty as much as possible. By understanding the risks and potential roadblocks before getting started, project managers and stakeholders can either avoid those bottlenecks or develop a plan for dealing with them.

For instance, if a project relies on a stakeholder to produce an asset but they miss the deadline, a project plan would outline how to proceed in those situations without losing progress.

Project planning—and by extension, the project plan—will become your baseline for measuring progress, allowing you to compare actual progress with the project plan so you can monitor team performance.

Though each team may approach project planning a little differently, there are a few resources project managers can use to make the most out of this phase.

What's the difference between Traditional vs. Agile project planning?

The difference between Traditional and Agile planning lies in how each methodology deals with chaos and uncertainty.

Let’s talk about some of those differences.

Traditional planning

Traditional planning is more fixed and rigorous. The execution phase begins after the project manager approves the plan and the team agrees on how to measure progress (typically against the project baseline ). Any changes go through a change control process and require approval before anyone can move forward.

One downside to this approach is that if an aspect of the project changes, it can take time before the team can adapt to meet the new requirements.

In Traditional Planning, the client provides specifications for the project and only sees the final result. This may allow the client to focus on other priorities, but it can also cause discrepancies in the expected results leave them unhappy with the final results. Agile is one way to keep clients involved throughout the process.

Agile planning

The approach for Agile planning is much more flexible and involves the customer during the entire project life cycle. Agile helps teams adapt fast to necessary changes and keeps the momentum going.

At some point, any project may need some adjustments, so instead of restructuring teams, workflows, milestones, and the entire plan, Agile allows you to pivot direction in short iterations.

The team cycles through one iteration at a time, allowing the client to provide feedback and request changes throughout the process.

Now that you’re familiar with both approaches to project planning, it often helps to see how they would look in practice. Let’s take a closer look.

How to create a project plan using the traditional planning method

Whether you choose the Traditional or Agile route, make sure all tasks contribute to the end goal. Check out this breakdown of the Traditional method in project planning.

Step 1: Collect the project requirements

Before working on your project management plan, think about your key stakeholders. Consider the following questions:

  • What do they want?
  • What are they trying to accomplish with this project?
  • How do they define success?

To avoid miscommunication or project misalignment, don’t assume the answers to the above questions—ask the stakeholders for their input in a kickoff meeting to have a better understanding of what this project should accomplish.

Step 2: Define your objectives

Now that you’ve confirmed what your stakeholders are looking for and received some insights, it’s time to define and prioritize your project objectives .

Create a list of all the things you want to achieve and prioritize them based on importance, urgency, effort (difficulty), and impact. Prioritization matrices, such as Eisenhower’s, can be helpful for this step. Here’s an example of the Eisenhower Matrix:'s Eisenhower's matrix template

Once you input your information, it’s onto step three.

Step 3: Define the project scope on a work level

There’s only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time. When it comes to achieve a goal—regardless of its size—chunking it down into small, individual steps often makes it feel more manageable.

After setting and prioritizing goals, identify the different tasks that make them up and create a clear project scope and roadmap of action. Using a robust project management software , you can easily set dependencies for each tasks and define which ones you and your team can tackle concurrently. Then, as you start your project, you can use the Work OS to track progress against your plan.

Step 4: Define your deliverables

Now that you’ve set goals and specific tasks, get clear on how to define success. In this stage, you’ll want to define your deliverables.

A project deliverable is the result you produce from completing a process or project. For instance, if you’re a marketing agency, a deliverable could be a website, a magazine ad, or a documented sales process.

No matter what kind of project you’re working on, you’ll need deliverables to show results or proof of success. What will those look like? Get as specific as you can. Recording and planning concrete deliverables makes it easy to track progress.

Step 5: Prepare the overall schedule and project budget

Now that you have goals, tasks, and deliverables, it’s time to design a project schedule. A project schedule will define who is working on what and each task’s completion date.

It’s also helpful to include all of the resources you need to complete each task. Recording all of this information in one place will help you uncover  any potential adjustments you might need to make for other project stages.

Step 6: Set a communication plan

To get all team members on the same page, define which communication channels you’ll use throughout the project with a project communication plan . Many teams choose to communicate over several channels and in this case, it helps to have a way to manage and organize all of these channels.

Design project communication plan

Step 7: Design a contingency plan

Even the best planned projects have some risk. The next step in creating an effective project plan is to create a contingency plan . Essentially, it’s a plan for handling the unplanned.

When coming up with your contingency plan, it’s helpful to ask a few questions:

  • What are the main risks for this project?
  • How likely are they to occur?
  • How can you minimize or eliminate them?
  • How should you act in case of a “disaster”?'s contingency plan template screenshot

The Traditional approach to project planning has you collect all assets and information before starting the project. In Agile, you’ll take a different approach.

How to adapt the traditional planning process for Agile teams

Now that you understand the traditional approach to project planning, let’s see how you can adapt it for Agile projects.

Step 1: Preplanning

The Agile planning process starts with preplanning. In this stage, the team will collect any requirements for the roadmap and product backlog and create a high-level estimation of time for each iteration, team roles, and costs.

Based on this information, the team can create a rough estimate of the total project duration.

Step 2: Release planning

Next, the team starts planning releases. In the planning phase, you can define whether you’ll release iterations as they’re completed or multiple iterations at once during specific periods.

Processes for planning of an Agile project

( Image Source )

You’ll focus on breaking down the product backlog into an estimated number of iterations and assigning them plan releases. Based on the release plan, the team can identify when the final product might be completed.

Step 3: Iteration planning

Agile is all about iterations. Instead of focusing on planning the project as a whole, Agile teams focus on planning only the next iteration. After each iteration, your team will gather and review how things went and define the scope — sprint backlog — of the next iteration.

This can be done following the process below:

Activities during the iteration planning meeting

Step 4: Manage product backlog

After each iteration, the project team reviews and updates the product backlog based on their outcomes, findings, and client feedback.

You can add new features and bugs, further elaborate on requirements, and shift priorities. Now’s the time to update your overall plan to reflect new information.

Step 5: Back to iteration planning

Now the cycle continues. Once you’ve updated your product backlog, you’ll launch into the next sprint or iteration planning stage. This process continues until you deliver the final iteration and product to your customer.

Then all that’s left to plan is the celebration.

Whether you choose the Traditional or Agile route, you’ll need the right tools to successfully complete any project. No matter which stage in the project life cycle ,  a Work OS—such as—will help foster clear communication between all stakeholders, track project progress, show who is responsible for what, keep all documents in one central place, and much more.

Start your project planning with

As the project plans is a roadmap of how you’ll achieve your goals, it’s an essential part of the project life cycle process. Thorough project plans usually include every part of the project including project scope, cost breakdown , resource breakdown , project assumptions , risk, and stakeholder engagement.

And as we covered above, whether you choose Agile or traditional methodologies, a solid plan will strengthen your project management efforts and save you a lot of wasted time. Work OS can help you implement any process easily so you always have a clear idea of where your project stands. Don’t leave your success up to chance. Ensure your project planning strategy is a success with the help of

project planning phase

Project Planning Phase

how to plan a project

The project planning phase of the project management life cycle defines the scope and objective of a project. Proper project planning is one of the most important steps in ensuring everything is delivered on-time and on-budget.

It can help smooth out the planning phase, helping bring together complex workstreams. Whether your project is still an idea or you’re managing an ongoing project, use this guide to the planning phase in project management to get familiar with key concepts.

Table of Contents

What is project planning?

Purpose of project planning., what is a project plan, what is included in a project plan, pre-planning: meeting with stakeholders., how to create a project plan., what happens after a project plan is approved, project planning techniques., how to maintain an ongoing project., successful project planning., frequently asked questions..

The project planning phase of project management is where a project manager builds the project roadmap, including the project plan, project scope, project schedule, project constraints, work breakdown structure, and risk analysis.

It doesn’t matter if the project is a new website or a new building, the project planning phase serves as a roadmap and acts as a control tool throughout the project. Project planning provides guidance by answering questions like:

  • What product(s) or service(s) will we deliver?
  • How much will the project cost?
  • How can we meet the needs of our stakeholders?
  • How will progress be measured?

Before we jump into the step-by-step of how to plan a project, let’s consider why the planning phase is such a critical piece of the project life cycle .

Project planning communicates deliverables , timing and schedules, along with team roles and responsibilities. During the planning phase of a project, the project manager is forced to think through potential risks and hang-ups that could occur during the project.

These early considerations can prevent future issues from affecting the overall success of the project, or at times, cause a project to fail. Too little planning causes chaos and frustration and too much planning causes a lot of administrative tasks, not allowing enough time for creative work.

Ultimately, the planning phase of project management determines how smoothly your projects move through the life cycle. That’s why it’s so important to spend ample time at the beginning of a project and get your planning right.

A project plan is a set of documents that can change over the course of a project. The plan provides an overall direction for the project, so drafting this is a key aspect of the project planning phase. If unexpected issues arise, such as delivery delays, the plan can be adjusted by the project manager.

Project plans are coordinated by the project manager, with input from stakeholders and team members. Plan components cover the “what” and “how” of a project.

Plans include details related to:

  • Timelines and stages
  • Deliverables

They also cover practical aspects such as:

  • Manufacturing
  • Risk management
  • Procurement

While resource-related considerations are also included, like:

  • Communications
  • Dependencies

Learn how to write a project plan in more detail .

In project management, planning is a multifaceted process. A full project plan might include the following documents:

Project charter.

This is a short, formal summary of your project’s aims, methods and stakeholders. You’ll likely refer back to this document later in the project lifecycle and may find it a useful frame of reference when measuring success.

Project schedule.

Schedules list what needs to be done and when, including details of any tools, bookings or people you might need to utilize at each stage. This is sometimes paired with a work breakdown structure (WBS). Depending on the nature of your project, you might list activities, costs and allocated hours beneath each deliverable.

Cost management plan.

This is essentially a detailed budget. Using the project planning phase to identify procurements, suppliers and resources can help you to map your project’s price tag. A project manager might use this document to think about human resource costs and consider figures that might grow if elements of your project plan change.

Statement of work (SoW).

A statement of work can help you keep an eye on scope, by listing a breakdown of the project’s aims and tasks. It’s often more detailed and less formal than a project charter and you might include practical details, such as the location of meetings, quality standards and software requirements here.

Risk management plan.

This allows you to identify the project’s main hazards for your organization and their potential impact. Analyzing the likelihood of each risk, high, medium or low, can give you sight of where to focus your efforts right from the project planning phase.

Stakeholder management plan.

In project management, each department comes to the table with distinct priorities, so drafting a stakeholder management plan can help. This document can ensure you identify all stakeholders, assign roles and prioritize interests accordingly.

Quality plan.

This aspect of the planning phase sets quality standards and acceptance criteria for deliverables.

Good project planning software can streamline the document drafting process in project management. It might allow you to combine these elements of analyze them side-by-side, for instance.

Prior to developing a project plan, the project manager should explain the purpose of the plan to key stakeholders. These are the organizations and individuals who are affected by the project and they need to understand what goes into planning their project – a key component of good stakeholder management .

Examples of stakeholders include:

  • Project sponsors
  • Business experts
  • Project team

Gaining buy-in from all stakeholders can be one of the most challenging components of project planning, yet it’s central to the project’s success. Projects fail when management isn’t supportive, or there is limited stakeholder engagement.

The project manager should host a project kick-off meeting for stakeholders. The meeting may be used to discuss the vision statement from the project sponsor, roles and responsibilities, team dynamics, decision-making, and other ground rules.

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It’s simple to create a project plan for your next stream of work. Simply follow these seven steps.

1. Create a scope statement.

A scope statement documents what the project will produce and what it will not. Once a project manager understands the stakeholder requirements, they need to define the scope. This is a crucial step because the scope will serve as the foundation of the project plan.

By outlining project scope boundaries during the planning phase, a project manager can minimize the chance of unauthorized tasks popping up. A clear and accurate scope statement helps gain buy-in from stakeholders, while also minimizing risk.

Formalizing these decisions in a project charter document may help to cement the business case for the project. When project managers take the time to meet with key stakeholders from the very beginning, they can feed cross-department insights into the scope statement.

2. Create a statement of work.

A statement of work contains project details including project timelines , requirements, and components. It’s an essential document that projects both the client and agency as it is a legally binding document that details the amount a client will pay for certain deliverables.

A SoW can also help prevent scope creep and shifting project requirements, which can individually, and combined, derail the progress of a project.

3. Conduct research.

From stakeholder interviews to project risks, conducting research is an essential step. Project research is based on the scope of the project and stakeholder requirements.

During the research phase, the project manager is encouraged to attend stakeholder interviews, or at least suggest questions to be included in the interviews.

At this stage of the planning process, it’s important to understand:

  • Project ownership
  • Decision making
  • Times when the stakeholders are away
  • Preferred communication methods

The project manager should also dig into team dynamics in order to assign responsibilities appropriately. At this stage, the team should discuss expertise, interests, and collaboration. The goal here is to define ownership of individual tasks.

4. Identify risks.

Including a risk analysis as part of your project’s planning phase helps you to keep an eye on potential problems. You can also use risk analysis to plan how to mitigate risks to a project should they arise.

Focus areas might include scope risk, the possibility that a project could drift beyond its original aims due to internal or client demands. Technical risks can arise if mission-critical software or hardware breaks down, and this can impact your schedule, budget and goals.

The right software can make the process of ongoing risk management easier. If delay is a key risk to your project, the ability to view progress quickly can be invaluable.

5. Create a project plan.

The next step in the planning phase is to draft the individual components of the project plan. The first draft should provide a rough sketch of the general process, outlining:

  • Project deliverables
  • Stakeholder feedback

Once the project manager has a general idea of how the project could go, they should share the draft with their team. Sharing the plan and asking for feedback from key team members ensures the plan is collaborative.

The project manager should adapt and change the path of the project to ensure the process works for everyone involved. As you draft project plan documents, think about:

  • Project deliverables. Even in the planning phase of a project, it’s wise to pinpoint exactly what needs to be produced.
  • Project stakeholders. This is the who’s who of your project, from start to finish.
  • Tasks and milestones. Consider the multiple milestones and project streams you’ll need to manage simultaneously.
  • Resources. Will you need investment, materials or extra staff?
  • Budget. When this is defined, it can be easier to make a business case and track return on investment (ROI).
  • Analytics. In project management, planning also means thinking about how you’ll report on progress and measure success.

6. Create a project schedule.

After the plan is drafted, the project manager needs to break the tasks into sections and map tasks to deliverables. This detailed step involves assigning tasks to organizations and individual responsibilities to people. This assignment of duties creates an important sense of accountability.

A project schedule includes specific start and end dates, along with notes that describe tasks. The schedule also notes dependencies. For instance, Task B cannot be completed until materials, as outlined in Task A, are delivered.

Spelling out dependencies illustrates how individual responsibilities will impact potential changes.

7. Review and approve the plan.

Before the project plan is finalized, the project manager needs to receive approval from stakeholders. To do this, they should build and maintain rapport with stakeholders to gain their trust.

If the project manager can prove that the project risks have been assessed and managed, and the project plan has been built to satisfy the overall vision of the sponsor, they can increase their chances of receiving approval.

When your plan is in the books, you’re ready to start executing those strategies and proposals that have been put together. Here’s what you need to do once your project plan has been given the green light.

Assign team roles and ongoing responsibilities.

Over the course of a project, a project manager should continually analyze project quality, monitor risk, and communicate effectively. The plan may have been mapped out, but your project’s wheels start turning only when tasks are assigned.

Define responsibilities clearly, either by individual, group or department, depending on project scale. Ensure systems are in place for each task and line of communication to flow smoothly from the last.

Monitor project quality.

The project manager is responsible for monitoring project quality to ensure the end result meets expectations. Project quality is proactive and it involves error prevention and risk management.

A quality plan aids in this ongoing responsibility by outlining standards, acceptance criteria, and project metrics . It is used to guide reviews and inspections during the project.

Communicate effectively.

Effective communication is central to the success of a project. Project communications can be guided with a communications plan . This document clarifies:

  • Who receives which reports
  • How issues will be handled
  • Where project information is stored
  • Who has access to it

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After the project management planning phase, you want your groundwork to set things out in a way that works for everyone. Some useful techniques could make this more likely, including:

Ask open-ended questions and feed input into the content of your plan as well as its structure. Some project plans take a list form and other, large-scale projects need multiple branches to segment each — this may be displayed as a tree diagram. The answers you receive may help to guide the fundamentals of how you lay out your project plan.

In fact, charts, sheets and software can help you to visualize plans more broadly — think color coding and intuitive tabs. If it’s easy to digest, various team players will likely find it easier to plug in.

Practical techniques for project planning include PERT, which stands for Program Evaluation and Review Technique. This helps with timing estimates by using statistics to manage probabilities, so it’s easier to predict how hypothetical scenarios could impact your timelines.

Naturally, the planning phase is just the beginning. Once your project is underway, managing the way things change can become a side project in its own right.

Set up pathways to deal with change and feed information into each branch of your current plan. If a cog in the chain alters, the best project plans are able to absorb this information quickly and direct it through all channels.

Your project might go through each of these life cycle stages :

  • Planning phase
  • Executing phase
  • Monitoring and controlling phase
  • Closing phase

Prioritization can help set the tone for success through each part of the journey.

The project planning phase is a roadmap for project managers. From pre-planning and meeting with stakeholders, to research, drafting, scheduling, and receiving final approval. All of these steps and subtasks help contribute to a successful project that aligns with the sponsor’s vision and overall objectives.

What is the definition of project planning?

Project planning outlines the purpose and scope of a project. It also addresses how you will approach and deliver it within a specific timeframe. We define project planning as a distinct phase within the project lifecycle .

In this phase, you’ll set out a roadmap for success, incorporating everything from the scope and projections of the project to its risks and constraints.

How can project planning help minimize risks?

Project planning can minimize risks in several ways. It can help you:

  • Analyze risks to consider their likelihood and impact.
  • Consider alternative courses of action, should a pitfall occur.
  • Prevent risks from occurring in the first place.
  • Manage stakeholder expectations for snags and delays in the project.

Risk analysis is therefore an integral part of the project planning process. Without it, you will be poorly prepared for the execution phase.

Why is project planning so important?

Project planning takes a lot of time and effort, but it is essential to delivering the finished product.

A solid plan can guide your team, stakeholders, managers and other parties through your project from start to finish. It allows you to set clear goals and objectives, allowing you to work out how best to achieve them.

Without adequate planning, projects can stray way off track and this can affect your bottom line. For example, in 2017, the Project Management Institute estimated that organizations lost an average $97 million on every $1 billion invested due to poor project management.

Mastering the project life cycle: Your complete guide (+ examples)

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09 Feb 2023 By Jo Johansson

Icons representing the five stages of the project life cycle: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, closure.

In this article 📖

The project life cycle , just like a good story, has a beginning, a middle, and (hopefully) a happy end. The beginning involves the ever-so-important planning; then comes the middle, where teams complete various tasks to move the project closer to completion; and finally, an end to review what went well and what didn’t.

This, in a nutshell, is the project life cycle: the phases a project moves through from start to finish. It’s a useful way to think about projects, as it helps teams successfully navigate them from initiation to closure, no matter how big or small the project is.

Of course, there’s quite a bit more to it than this. And so, in this guide, we leave no stone unturned, exploring almost everything you need to know about the project life cycle, including:

What is a project life cycle?  

The project life cycle is a framework project managers use to help them plan and execute projects strategically and effectively to meet project goals.

Project life cycle definition 

The project life cycle consists of a series of steps, phases, or stages a project goes through from beginning to finish—sometimes linearly and sometimes not. There are usually five  phases of the project life cycle : initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure.

Characteristics of the project life cycle include:

  • A start and finish with distinct phases
  • Project objectives defined at the beginning 
  • A plan for achieving the objectives
  • Deliverables and tasks to be completed
  • Systems for managing projects
  • A list of stakeholders

Types of project life cycles

While the project life cycle stages are widely recognized, there are variations in how project teams use and follow them. Some follow them linearly, while others go for a more flexible approach. 

There are different types of project life cycles teams can make use of depending on the type of project they’re working on.

Here are five of the most common types of project life cycles:

1. Predictive (or waterfall) life cycle

Also known as the waterfall or fully-plan-driven project cycle, the predictive life cycle is the most traditional and easiest to understand. 

The plan is created upfront, with a defined schedule, scope, and costs. A single product or service usually gets delivered at the end.  

The project follows a linear progression through the five steps of the project cycle: initiate, plan, execute, control, and close. The team moves on to the next phase only once the previous stage is complete—and performs each phase once. 

This approach provides a solid project plan that’s easily replicated.

The waterfall model

The linear and predictive waterfall model.

2. Iterative life cycle

The iterative life cycle also consists of the five project phases, but there’s no linear progression. Each stage in the cycle is performed as many times as needed. For instance, a project team may move between the execution and monitoring phases multiple times before moving on to closure. 

This life cycle is ideal when the project scope is unclear, but the customer still wants the best solution. Customer feedback is received at the end of each phase and informs the next stage, so planning continuously happens throughout the project’s life.

3. Incremental life cycle

During the incremental life cycle, the project is delivered in multiple increments or sets. Each set consists of progressing through the five project phases linearly until completion. And each phase must be completed before moving on to the next. 

At the end of each set, a deliverable is produced, with feedback informing the next set. This means that the cycle of moving through the five phases happens multiple times.  

As with the iterative life cycle, the incremental one is ideal for unpredictable scopes and where timely delivery is crucial. 

4. Agile (or adaptive) life cycle

Also known as the change-driven or adaptive approach, the agile life cycle combines iterative and incremental life cycles. This type of cycle is more open to change and adaptation and doesn’t follow a linear progression. The initial phase only happens once—with planning, execution, and control stages happening in iterations, usually multiple times. 

Each iteration delivered is followed by feedback that informs the next iteration or set. This life cycle is ideal for projects where feedback is essential, timely project delivery is crucial, and the scope is unclear.

The agile model going through its stages iteratively.

The Agile model is more open to change and adaptation and doesn’t follow a linear progression.

5. Hybrid life cycle

The hybrid life cycle is a combination of project management approaches. An example is the agile life cycle, which combines iterative and incremental project management approaches. 

Hybrids are ideal for when any of the other approaches aren’t suitable.  

Okay, now that we’ve got the hang of different types of project life cycles, let’s dive a bit deeper into the phases and what happens in each.

The phases of a project life cycle

The diagram below shows the five stages of the project life cycle, which we will discuss in more detail next. Just keep in mind that not everyone uses five stages. Some choose to focus on a four-phase project life cycle while others may opt for something entirely different.

As we mentioned earlier, the choice mostly boils down to personal preference and the needs of the project. For instance, some PMs may prefer the 5-phase cycle because it’s more detailed, while others may pick four phases because it’s more straightforward.

If you’re dealing with a complex project, you might want to opt for the 5-phase cycle, whereas if you’re in a time crunch, you might want to opt for the 4-phase cycle.

An overview of the five phases of the project life cycle, briefly outlining each.

An overview of the five phases of the project life cycle.

Phase 1: Initiation—kicking things off

Initiation is the project kick-off phase, to get the full download of information from key stakeholders. At a high level, this phase defines the problem, details what needs to be done, and is an opportunity to define all the stakeholders.

The initiation phase will vary depending on the size of the project. For a freelancer working with a client to write a few blog posts, the initiation phase may involve one brainstorming meeting to clarify the details. 

For a project team working on a large project with many deliverables over months, this phase will be more comprehensive—and will probably involve producing a business case and feasibility study. 

Regardless, these are the types of tasks you can expect to tackle during the project life cycle initiation phase :

  • Create a project charter that details the scope and project objectives
  • Identify the stakeholders , which includes the project team, project managers, project sponsors, and clients
  • Conduct a feasibility study to determine if it’s possible to tackle the project
  • Create a business case to see if the project is worth pursuing: analyze benefits, costs, and risks
  • Build an estimate of the project costs to guide budgeting

You’ll usually capture all this information in a Project Initiation Document (PID).

Phase 2: Planning—the foundation of your entire project

Once you have the green light for the project, it’s time for planning. Planning lays the groundwork for the rest of the project and helps you move intelligently through it. 

You’ll detail all the work and how you plan on doing it. More specifically, the project life cycle planning phase involves :

  • Creating a project plan that includes project objectives, deliverables, timelines, project constraints, a project schedule, and project dependencies
  • Preparing a project budget by building a financial plan with cost estimates for labor, material, and equipment
  • Specifying resource requirements like labor and materials to help with resource scheduling and allocation 
  • Managing risk by identifying potential problems and creating contingency plans 
  • Creating a communication plan that details the information you’ll need, who needs that information, how often you’ll communicate, and how you’ll communicate
  • Setting quality targets and control measures via a quality plan
  • Listing the criteria for what customers deem a completed project
  • Detailing the processes, systems, and tools you’ll use to manage and track your projects . How will you manage and schedule your team? How will you track resource utilization to ensure you’re making the best use of those resources? Workload planning tools can help.

Workload planning tools for happier teams and smoother projects

The right workload planning tool like Resource Guru helps you identify, categorize, and better schedule resources by seeing who’s overloaded and underutilized. From there, you can:

  • Identify bottlenecks where demand (for people) is higher than supply, so you can plan ahead and hire more people if needed
  • Assign the right people to the right projects to prevent overload and burnout, while improving employee retention

It’s as simple as dragging and dropping to rebalance workloads. Et voila! Resource scheduling is done.

Resource Guru's flexible drag and drop schedule

Resource Guru’s flexible drag-and-drop scheduling tool.

Phase 3: Execution (or implementation)—getting the work done 

The execution or implementation phase is where you put planning into motion. The aim is to complete deliverables to achieve the project objectives.

The project manager will typically carry out these tasks during the project execution phase:

  • Allocating resources and budget
  • Scheduling tasks
  • Briefing the project team 
  • Coordinating and managing the team and schedule
  • Attending client reviews and regular team meetings to share progress 

Phase 4: Monitoring (or controlling)—tracking progress against the plan

The monitoring or controlling phase goes hand-in-hand with the execution phase. It’s about monitoring the project’s overall progress to see if you’re meeting project objectives and are on track. 

You’ll need to track performance metrics like budget, cost variance, resource utilization, and client satisfaction. Where there are deviations from the original plan, always first try to get the project back on course. If this isn’t possible and you need to modify the plan, take note of this, so you have a record to refer back to later.

Ways to track project progress , include:

  • Regular team meetings to get feedback on how things are going.
  • Client review meetings where you answer questions. This helps create a constant feedback loop that allows you to include client changes earlier, rather than later when it may be difficult to backtrack and can become costly. Make sure you compare these change requests against the initial project scope to control scope creep before it gets out of hand.
  • Using tools like resource management software to track resource utilization to ensure you’re getting the most out of your team and preventing team burnout .

Phase 5: Closure—wrapping things up

During this phase, the project winds down and comes to a close. You’ll spend time wrapping things up by handing over project documentation, releasing final deliverables, terminating contracts, and informing everyone that the project is complete.

You can also conduct a project post-mortem to assess what worked and what didn’t. This could be a wrap-up meeting with all stakeholders or a project report you deliver to everyone. 

Regardless, use this information to learn from mistakes and build on the wins to ensure the success of future projects.

Advantages and disadvantages of project life cycle

Now that you have a thorough understanding of the phases of the project management life cycle, let’s look at the pros and cons.

Take note : The following is a high-level look at the pros and cons of the project life cycle and doesn’t involve a one-to-one comparison between the different types of project life cycle models.

Advantages of project life cycle

  • A reliable structure for managing and delivering projects helps teams navigate and deliver projects on time and on budget
  • The framework , which is usually visible to all, makes it easy to define roles , so everyone knows what to do
  • You can easily track the project’s progress against the phases . Everyone can easily stay updated on the project’s status
  • Clear steps, deliverables, and project goals foster better communication and collaboration
  • Planning for risks is easy so that you can minimize their impact

Disadvantages of project life cycle

  • The project life cycle consists of distinct phases, making it rather rigid . This rigidity is not suitable for all projects. It may be why there are different versions of the cycle to accommodate different project types
  • A rigid project approach can stifle creativity , particularly moving through the project linearly
  • Some teams overcomplicate the stages of the cycle , which leads to slow project delivery and unnecessary costs
  • Moving through the life cycle can be overly time and resource intensive
  • Teams can waste time, money, and resources if the need or problem isn’t properly defined

Critical success factors across the project life cycle

  • Specific and measurable project objectives . For instance, the objective of “increase total organic traffic by 20% by the end of August 2023” is much better than “increase traffic.” It provides a precise number for the increase, so you know what to aim for and you aren’t choosing a number arbitrarily during the project. It’s also measurable; you can pull stats to see if you’ve reached your goal. Finally, there’s a deadline, so you’re not aimlessly tracking a metric indefinitely.
  • Proper planning . Planning is the foundation of any project as it guides your actions. It includes your project plan, budget, communication plan, schedule, and systems for success.
  • Scope control . Scope control helps keep a project on track and on budget. Without it, you risk the project going beyond what was agreed. A real possibility considering that nearly 50% of all projects experience scope creep . Scope creep causes project delays, resource allocation issues, and budgeting problems. Control scope creep by having a clear project schedule and a change management plan.
  • Proper project tracking . Tracking progress against the plan helps you stay on track. Weekly status meetings can help steer the ship.
  • The right project management tools . The right tools help simplify project management, keep you organized, and help you stay on track. Use them for task scheduling, resource allocation , budgeting, and compiling cost estimates.
  • Proper communication . Regular communication between stakeholders ensures everyone stays aligned and is working together.
  • Management support and buy-in . Without management agreement that the project is essential, you’ll struggle to progress. Create a business case to get buy-in.
  • Resource allocation . Project success depends on allocating the right resources to the right areas and in the right amount. If you have too few resources, your team will be spread thin. Too many, and you may blow your project budget out of the water.
  • Strong leadership . PMs must be competent and effective leaders who inspire and can get the most out of their teams.
  • Risk management . No project is without hiccups. There need to be contingency plans.

Project life cycle examples

Below are two project management life cycle examples: one for a smaller project and another for a larger one.

Example 1: Website redesign

Initiation : A web designer (Joe) has a project kick-off meeting with a client to understand the problems with the existing site and the goal of the new one. One of the objectives is to modernize the site. 

Planning : Joe completes the creative brief, which includes the scope, milestones, and costs. The milestones allow for client feedback. Both parties agree on the number of changes allowed at each milestone and what the definition of a change is, so there’s no confusion.

Execution : Joe produces wireframes and mock-ups for delivery at different milestones. Feedback at each checkpoint informs the next phase. 

Monitoring : Joe uses the checkpoints to track project progress and control scope creep. For instance, at the first checkpoint, the client wants to change the placement of an icon. This change is minor, so scope creep is not a concern. For the remaining checkpoints, the project proceeds without a hitch.

Closure : Joe delivers the final prototype. The client is happy and signs off. 

H3: Example 2: Developing software

Initiation : A moving company wants to create an app to help price their moves because the team is making math mistakes that are costing the company thousands of dollars. A business case is created to detail the problem as well as the benefits and costs of the software. The project gets the green light, and a project manager (PM) is appointed.

Planning : The PM creates a project plan highlighting the costs, deliverables, timelines, scope, and resources. One new resource is a specialist app developer the team had not initially discussed. The PM flags this to the CEO, who approves the extra budget. They hire a developer to work in-house.

Execution : The PM works with the developer and implements checkpoints across design, development, and testing. After milestones one and two, the project is moving ahead as planned. 

Monitoring : The third milestone arrives, and the team needs to confirm if the app is ready for testing. But they need more development time and want to add an extra feature. 

The PM, again, flags this to the CEO, who approves and agrees to a budget increase of $40,000. The PM adjusts the project schedule to account for the changes—and pushes it out by two months.

Closure : The team deploys the app and starts using it. The developer helps train everyone, so they understand how to use it. The PM conducts a project post-mortem with the team where they recognize they were flexible and adaptable but could’ve better defined the requirements.

The bottom line on project life cycles

Sure, the inflexibility of the life cycle makes it an unsuitable framework for certain projects. But it’s still a valuable way to think about them because it provides structure to otherwise chaotic projects.

Now, you definitely don’t need to follow this structure blindly—it’s not the be-all, end-all for project success. Instead, use the underlying concepts, ideas, and information from this guide and adapt them to build your own. 

Maybe your projects will follow a more linear progression and closely resemble the traditional predictive cycle? Or perhaps you’ll lean toward a more hybrid model and embrace adaptability?

It’s your choice .

As a project manager, you know your project, resources, and team better than anyone else. So view these life cycles as an adaptable framework and apply them when needed—you know what’s best for your project.

Recommended Resource Guru reads:

  • Workload planning: a complete guide
  • Project collaboration: the key to successful project management (and happy teams)
  • Team burnout: 9 ways project managers can prevent it (before it’s too late)

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Jo Johansson

👋 I'm Jo, Senior Content Marketing Manager at Resource Guru. I spend my days creating educational content that helps people be more productive at work, so they can enjoy their time off work. Got any ideas or requests? Drop me a line at [email protected].


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5 Phases of Project Management – A Complete Breakdown

Managing a project is no easy feat, no matter what the scale and scope are. From planning the minutia to handling the ever-changing demands of clients to shipping the deliverables on time, there’s a lot that can go wrong. When you divide the project into manageable stages, each with its own goals and deliverables, it’s easier to control the project and the quality of the output.

In a   project management guide , if you are somehow in a position where you are expected to manage projects for your organization and are feeling overwhelmed, it’s better to start learning the basic stages of the project life cycle phases.

According to the PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge) by the Project Management Institute ( PMI ), a project management life cycle consists of 5 distinct phases including initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure that combine to turn a project idea into a working product.

project management life cycle steps

Five phases of project management

The 5 basic phases in the project management process are:.

  • Project Initiation
  • Project Planning
  • Project Execution
  • Project Monitoring and Controlling
  • Project Closing

project management phases

Phase 1: Project initiation

The   project initiation   phase is the first stage of turning an abstract idea into a meaningful goal. In this stage, you need to develop a business case and define the project on a broad level. In order to do that, you have to determine the need for the project and create a project charter.

The   project charter   is an important document consisting of details like the   project constraints , goals, appointment of the project manager, budget, expected timeline, etc.

Once you have the project goals and   project scope , identify key project stakeholders–the people who are to be involved in the project. Create a stakeholder register with the roles, designation, communication requirements, and influence.

While a clear goal of the project is established in this phase, a project charter does not contain any technical details that happen in the planning stage.

Consider the example of an automobile manufacturer assigned to develop an electric vehicle. The selection of the design, capacity, and battery power of the vehicle will not be a part of the initiation phase. The only certainty would be that an electric vehicle will be developed within the given timeframe and budget.

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Phase 2: project planning.

The   project planning   stage requires complete diligence as it lays out the project’s roadmap. Unless you are using a modern project management methodology like   agile project management , the second phase of project management is expected to take almost half of the entire project’s timespan.

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In this phase, the primary tasks are identifying technical requirements, developing a detailed   project schedule , creating a communication plan, and setting up goals/deliverables.

There are several methods of setting up the project’s goals but   S.M.A.R.T.   and   C.L.E.A.R.   are the most popular.


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S.M.A.R.T Goals:

The   ‘SMART’   criteria ensure that the goals you set for your project are critically analyzed. It is an established method that reduces risk and allows   project managers   to make clearly defined and achievable goals.

smart project management

C.L.E.A.R. Goals:

The   ‘CLEAR’   method of setting up goals is designed to cater to the dynamic nature of a modern workplace. Today’s fast-paced businesses require flexibility and immediate results and CLEAR can help citizen developers with that.

The acronym for   CLEAR   stands for

clear project management

During the planning stage, the scope of the project is defined. There is a possibility of changing the scope of the project demands it but the project manager must approve the change. Project managers also develop a work breakdown structure (WBS), which clearly visualizes the entire project in different sections for the  team management .

Learn more about how  project goals and objectives  are defined.

A detailed   project timeline   with each deliverable is another important element of the planning stage. Using that timeline, project managers can develop a   project communication plan   and a schedule of communication with the relevant stakeholders.

Risk mitigation is another important aspect of project management that is a part of the planning stage. The project manager is responsible for extrapolating past data to identify potential   project management risks   and develop a strategy to minimize them.

An important element that professionals often overlook is an effective change management plan. As a project manager, you must be ready to incorporate a few changes in the project to avoid bottlenecks and   project delays .

In the absence of a working change management plan,   scope creep   happens and causes huge problems for the project team in the later stages of the project. So, it’s best to reduce the possibility of unforeseen changes as much as possible.

And don’t forget to try our Free and Customizable Templates:

–   Content Calendar Template for Strategic Content Planning

–   Competitive Analysis Template for Strategic Content Planning

Phase 3: Project execution

The   project execution   stage is where your team does the actual work. As a project manager, your job is to establish efficient workflows and carefully monitor the progress of your team.

Another responsibility of the project manager during this phase is to consistently maintain effective collaboration between   project stakeholders . This ensures that everyone stays on the same page and the project runs smoothly without any issues.

You can take help from the best   project collaboration tools   that are available in the market. They’ll not only make your life easier but also improve efficiency and increase the productivity of your team. Utilizing a brainstorming tool can be transformative in enhancing team collaboration and brainstorming. This app allows team members to visualize ideas, share feedback in real time, and collectively refine concepts, seamlessly integrating with the project execution phase. It's an essential asset for teams looking to elevate their creative process and ensure all voices are heard during project development.

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Phase 4: project monitoring and controlling.

In the project management process, the third and fourth phases are not sequential in nature. The   project monitoring and controlling phase   run simultaneously with project execution, thereby ensuring that objectives and   project deliverables   are met.

As a project manager, you can make sure that no one deviates from the original plan by establishing Critical Success Factors (CSF) and   Key Performance Indicators   (KPI).

During the monitoring phase of project management, the manager is also responsible for quantitatively tracking the effort and cost during the process. This tracking not only ensures that the project remains within the budget but also is important for future projects.

Phase 5: Project closing

This is the final phase of the project management process. The   project closure   stage indicates the end of the project after the final delivery. There are times when external talent is hired specifically for the project on contract. Terminating these contracts and completing the necessary paperwork is also the responsibility of the project manager.

Most teams hold a reflection meeting after the completion of the project in order to contemplate their successes and failures during the project. This is an effective method to ensure continuous improvement within the company to enhance the overall productivity of the team in the future.

The final task of this phase is to review the entire project complete a detailed report that covers every aspect. All of the necessary data is stored in a secure place that can be accessed by project managers of that organization.

While spreadsheets and post-it notes sufficed in the past, the requirement of digital project management is completely different. If you're looking for project managers who have experience who are familiar with all 5 phases from initiation to closing, you can use the project management test to find the most qualified candidates.

Simplify your project management process

Nowadays, using cloud-based project management software is a common way of storing all of the documents related to the project.

Dividing a project into multiple phases gives the project a semblance of predictability. It gives a framework to operate, making it easier to plan and execute. While spreadsheets and post-it notes sufficed in the past, the requirement of   digital project management   is completely different.

You need the right tools to plan, organize, and track projects. You need an   online project management software   to simplify the project management phases for each project.

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Project Management

How to master the 5 phases of project management.

Sarah Burner

ClickUp Contributor

November 1, 2023

As a project manager, you know how much time, effort, and sweat equity it takes to manage a project from conception to completion. There’s nothing wrong with an intuitive approach to project management when you have just a handful of simple projects.

But if you’re juggling multiple complex projects, you’ll really benefit from an organized approach that outlines your project phase s. 🤹

The Project Management Institute (PMI) created a five-step project management process to give project managers a ready-made foundation for better project management. If you struggle with scope creep, rework, or general project chaos, following the five phases of project management will keep your team on track.

In this guide, we’ll explain what the five phases are and why they’re so beneficial. We’ll also share practical tips and resources to help you master each phase of the project management life cycle. 

1. Initiation phase

2. planning phase, 3. execution phase, 4. monitoring and controlling phase, 5. closure phase, clarity and direction, stakeholder engagement, resource efficiency, risk management, improved work output, better morale and accountability, effective communication, better performance over time, 1. project initiation, 2. project planning, 3. project execution, 4. project monitoring and controlling, 5. project closing.

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What Are the 5 Phases of Project Management?

The PMI created the five-step approach to give project managers a systematic process for taking projects from A to Z. These are the five phases of the project management life cycle:

This is when you kick off the project and get stakeholders’ buy-in by defining the project’s purpose and setting goals.

ClickUp Project Charter Template

The initiation phase usually culminates in a project charter, which is a document outlining the project scope, goals, risk management, deliverables , and stakeholders. The purpose here is to build a shared understanding of the project so everyone’s on the same page.

You get more granular in the project plan ning phase. This is where you create detailed plans for executing, monitoring and controlling the project. And it’s one of the most essential project management phases to ensure you have a start-to-finish framework.

You’ll meet with your team to decide on time frames, resources, and project budget. It’s also a good time to decide on a project management tool to help you plan and manage your Tasks, Chats, Documents, Templates, and more.

During execution, your project team gets busy doing the work, and you start managing everything.

But this isn’t a chance to rest on your laurels—a good project manager regularly checks in with their team to ensure they’re on track for project timelines and meeting quality standards. The more closely you manage during the execution phase, the less you’ll need to change during the next phase.

Not every project has a clear start and end date. In the fourth phase, you track the project’s progress and compare it to the metrics in your original plan.

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If the project is off track, now’s the chance to course-correct so you can still achieve your goals.

Once your team completes all tasks, you formally close the project in your project management software . But don’t just let it die—schedule a post-mortem meeting to talk about how the project went and glean lessons for future projects.

These project life cycle phases are helpful because they give you the structure for building a solid project.

They’re flexible enough to support nearly any project, business, or team, so you can add your flair and make this project management methodology your own. ✨

Benefits of Following Project Phases

Projects without a firm foundation have a greater risk of poor performance. Instead of approaching projects with a laissez-faire attitude, embrace a phased approach to see measurable differences in your project performance.

In fact, following these project life cycle phases comes with a lot of perks. 🤩

Breaking a project into clear stages makes it much less intimidating and more accessible. This ensures you define every aspect of the project before you start any work, giving your team a clear roadmap to follow so you don’t overlook any important details. 

People will tune out if they think a project doesn’t apply to them or if it’s too convoluted. Project life cycle phases allow you to explain why the project matters before your team does any work. It won’t guarantee engagement, but this project management process makes it much more likely that people will understand their roles and why their work matters. 🧑🏽‍💼

Tackling a project in clear phases also cuts down on overthinking and perfectionism. If your team struggles with reworking past phases or scope creep, a step-by-step approach is perfect for getting stakeholders to make a decision and stick with it.

You’ve got limited resources for this project, so make the most of them. Project management phases squeeze more value out of your existing resources, whether that’s your budget, tools, or people.

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It encourages proactive planning, which makes it possible to do better work in less time with the resources you already have. ⚒️

You identify potential project risks during the project initiation phase. This gives your team—including the good folks in legal and HR—a chance to address potential liabilities before they even happen.

Phased projects are much less likely to hit preventable snags, which helps you sidestep future headaches and enjoy smoother projects. 🧘

Breaking a project into phases gives you regular checkpoints for evaluating the team’s work. You can spot any discrepancies between the project deliverables and your project plan, which gives your team time to fix issues early on.

Clear project life cycle phases give everyone on your team clear action items. They don’t have to wonder what they need to do or whether they’re successful or not—everything is spelled out in the project plan.

As you complete milestones, the project team has a greater sense of achievement, boosting morale. 🙌

The phased approach requires creating a communication plan defining how you interact with stakeholders and project team members. It keeps everyone in the loop to reduce confusion and misunderstanding.

One successful project leads to more successful projects in the future. Even if this project didn’t go as you or the project manager expected, the phased approach requires you to reflect on what went well and what you’ll change next time.

With this plan, you avoid repeating the same mistakes and design better projects going forward. 🎉

5 Project Management Phases Across the Project Life Cycle

Are you ready to implement phases in your own projects? Check out the ClickUp Phased Project Template to quickly break down your project into manageable stages. 

This template is a great start, but knowing how to execute it will help you get even more value out of every project phase in the project life cycle. Follow these tips to streamline projects from initiation to closing. 

You’ve decided to kick off a project. Great! During the project initiation phase, you’ll:

  • Identify the business case for the project
  • Conduct a feasibility study to make sure the project is viable
  • Make a list of the project team, stakeholders, and team members that should be informed

Schedule a kickoff meeting to get things started. This meeting should include all team members across the project team, plus relevant stakeholders like your boss or the CEO. 

During the meeting, you’ll create the project charter, which outlines the vision and direction for your project. There’s no need to spend hours planning this meeting, either. 

Project phases: screenshot of ClickUp's Project Charter template

The ClickUp Project Charter Template has everything you need to get started. Define project objectives, delegate tasks, and clarify communication in this document before you plan the project in earnest—it’ll save you a lot of work down the road. ⏲️

Quick tips:

  • Conduct a stakeholder analysis to engage with key stakeholders early on in your project team
  • Choose clear, achievable project goals that align with your organizational goals
  • Have a vague idea of your project schedule and budget to streamline the next phase

Project planning might sound similar to initiation, but they aren’t the same. In the initiation phase, you justify the project and gather a team of experts. In the project planning phase, you create a project plan, which includes:

  • Deciding on a project timeline
  • Prioritizing deliverables
  • Determining the scope of the project
  • Setting SMART goals
  • Creating a work breakdown structure, which breaks tasks into smaller, more manageable components

This part of the project management process can get a little overwhelming, so it’s best to plug everything into project management software like ClickUp. Brainstorm your big ideas in a ClickUp Whiteboard and convert them into Projects and Tasks in just a click.

Visualize your project roadmaps in Board View (Kanban) or Gantt Chart View to see the project plan at a high level and tweak everything accordingly.

As a project manager, you’re basing the entire project off this plan (no pressure!), so take your time crafting a thoughtful project plan that makes execution a breeze. 💃

Quick tips :

  • Set clear milestones with dates and quantifiable outcomes
  • Allocate team members, tools, and a budget for each task
  • Develop a communication plan to share who needs to know what, when, and how they’ll get that information

With the project plan in hand, the project manager needs to get busy creating the deliverables in the execution phase . If you have more than two stakeholders (and you probably do), it’s best to monitor all work in your project management software.

ClickUp's Dashboard

Track your team’s progress with real-time ClickUp Dashboards . Build Dashboards for each project or view all of your projects at a high level. The ClickUp Project Deliverables Template is also a huge time-saver. Grab this template, add your project tasks, and automatically monitor all statuses from the same place in just a few minutes. 

Best of all, this project management life cycle software will alert you or a dedicated project manager if any tasks or projects are running off the rails. That allows for early intervention, which makes the difference between failure and success. 🏅

  • Foster an environment where team members collaborate with each other and freely share their ideas
  • Schedule regular check-ins for status updates
  • Double-check deliverables for quality to prevent major revisions later on

Once the initial execution is underway, it’s time to monitor the project’s progress. At this stage, you’ll monitor project controls like:

Set up a customizable ClickUp Dashboard to pull real-time project data into one neat visual. You’ll see all metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) in one place and make decisions in record time.

But project performance is just one piece of the puzzle. 🧩

You’re also managing humans, and that requires keeping an eye on your team’s workload. ClickUp’s employee monitoring software gives you an instant view of your team’s workload so you can divvy out work accordingly. If you manage a lot of people, check out Activity view to see aggregated activity by employee, activity, or department.

  • Compare your current KPIs to the goals set in your project plan
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust your project plan based on performance and external changes
  • Create a feedback loop where you collect, analyze, and act on feedback to make an even better product

All good things must come to an end, so it’s time for the project manager to wrap up loose ends in the project closure phase. Sure, closing projects out in your project management software is a must, but schedule a post-mortem with your team before you do that. 

Post-mortem meetings look at what went right and what could have been better. If you failed or something didn’t go the way you planned, make a note of it for the next project. If the project succeeded, detail why it succeeded in your post-mortem notes so you can replicate it for future projects.

Project phases: ClickUp's Post-Mortem Template

The ClickUp Post-Mortem Template gives you a ready-made post-mortem document for spotting project trends. Gather your project data in the document, review it with your team, and share it with everyone afterward. Be sure to review past post-mortem documents before your next project to create even stronger work in the future. 💪

  • Organize all post-mortem documents in a shared space where project stakeholders can access them—speed up the process with the right post-mortem templates
  • Release all resources, including the project manager, team members, and software, from the project so they can work on other projects
  • Recognize your team for their hard work

Build Better Project Workflows in ClickUp

Project phases streamline your workday, improve the quality of your team’s work, and lead to all-around better performance. 🏆

Project management software is a must-have for phased-based project management. Not only does ClickUp bring all your Projects, Tasks, Whiteboards, Chats, and Documents under the same roof, but it also supports a more structured approach to project management. 

See the sanity-saving features for yourself: Create your free ClickUp Workspace now.

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Project Planning Phases: Key Strategies for Success

Unveil the world of Project Planning Phases and understand the vital role they play in successful project management. Explore the significance of project planning and dive into the five key phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closure. Gain insights into essential strategies for achieving success in project planning.


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In this blog, we will d ive into the various Project Planning Phases and explore key strategies for ensuring a successful outcome. From initiation to closure, we will explore the Phases of Project Planning and provide you with insights that can be applied to your own projects. 

  Table of Contents  

1)   The importance of Project Planning 

2)  Phases of Project Planning   

     a) Phase 1: Initiation 

     b) Phase 2: Planning 

     c) Phase 3: Execution 

     d) Phase 4: Monitoring and controlling 

     e) Phase 5: Closure 

3) Key strategies for success in Project Planning 

4) Conclusion  

The importance of Project Planning    

Project Planning is the compass that guides a project from inception to completion, ensuring it stays on course and achieves its objectives efficiently. It provides clarity by defining project goals, scope, timelines, and resource allocation, allowing stakeholders to understand their roles and responsibilities.  

Moreover, effective planning minimises risks, anticipates challenges, and facilitates better decision-making throughout the project's lifecycle. It saves time and resources by preventing scope creep and reducing the need for corrective actions later on . Ultimately, Project Planning is the foundation upon which successful projects are built, leading to better outcomes, satisfied stakeholders, and enhanced Project Management. 

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Phases of Project Planning   

Project Planning Phases

Phase 1: Initiation   

The initiation phase is the project's birth, where the seeds of success are sown. During this critical stage, the project's purpose and objectives are clearly defined. It's about answering the fundamental questions: What are we trying to achieve, and why? Stakeholders are identified, and their specific needs and expectations are assessed.  

The development of a project charter, a document that encapsulates the project's essence, is a hallmark of this phase. By meticulously laying these foundations, you establish a robust framework for the entire project, ensuring everyone is aligned towards a common goal. 

Phase 2: Planning   

The planning phase is akin to drawing up the blueprint for a building. Here, you d ive into the specifics of how the project will unfold. Key elements such as scope, time, resources, and risks are thoroughly examined. The scope defines what is within the project's boundaries and what isn't.  

A detailed project schedule is created, allocating time and resources optimally. Risk assessments are conducted to identify potential pitfalls and develop mitigation strategies. This phase is the backbone of Project Management, providing a roadmap that guides the project from inception to completion, reducing uncertainties and improving control. 

Phase 3: Execution   

With a solid plan in place, the execution phase is where the project takes shape. It involves mobilising the project team, allocating resources, and putting the plan into action. Effective communication is paramount during this phase, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and progress is tracked. 

Quality assurance measures are implemented to maintain the standard of deliverables. Additionally, change management strategies come into play as unforeseen challenges may arise. Successful execution relies on the coordination of efforts, efficient resource utilisation, and a constant focus on meeting the project's objectives. 

Phase 4: Monitoring and controlling   

Once the project is underway, the monitoring and controlling phase serves as the compass to keep it on course. Here, progress is rigorously tracked against the project plan. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are used to measure just how well the project is meeting its goals. Issues and deviations are identified promptly, and corrective actions are taken to address them.  

Cost management is integral to ensuring the project remains within budget. Scope changes are carefully managed to prevent "scope creep," which can derail the project. This phase is all about maintaining control and making timely adjustments to ensure the project stays on track. 

Phase 5: Closure   

The closure phase marks the project's triumphant finale. Here, deliverables are reviewed and accepted by stakeholders, ensuring that they meet the agreed-upon criteria. Knowledge transfer is a crucial component, as the project team imparts their expertise to those who will be responsible for ongoing maintenance or support.  

A post-implementation evaluation is conducted to assess the project's overall success and learn valuable lessons for future endeavours. Closure activities include administrative tasks like finalising contracts, releasing project resources, and archiving project documentation. Successfully closing a project not only wraps it up neatly but also paves the way for new beginnings and future successes. 

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Key strategies for success in Project Planning    

Key strategies for success in Project Planning

Clear communication  

Effective communication is paramount throughout all project phases. Ensure that project goals, objectives, and expectations are clearly articulated to all stakeholders. Encourage open and honest communication channels, fostering an environment where members can share their ideas and concerns. Regular updates and status reports keep everyone informed and aligned. 

Stakeholder engagement  

Identify and engage with stakeholders early and consistently. Understand their needs, interests, and concerns. Regularly seek their input and feedback to make informed decisions and manage expectations. Engaged stakeholders are more likely to support the project and contribute to its success. 

Risk mitigation  

Comprehensive risk assessment and management are crucial. Identify potential risks, assess their impact and likelihood, and develop mitigation strategies. Review and update the risk register regularly throughout the project's lifecycle. Being proactive in addressing risks can prevent costly setbacks. 

Quality c ontrol  

Quality should be at the forefront of Project Planning. Establish clear quality standards and procedures from the outset. Regularly monitor and assess deliverables to ensure they meet these standards. Implement quality assurance processes to identify and rectify issues early, preventing rework later in the project. 

Continuous improvement  

Embrace a culture of continuous improvement. Regularly review and learn from past projects, identifying areas for enhancement in your planning and execution processes. Encourage team members to share lessons learned, promoting a culture of innovation and growth. 

Flexibility and adaptability  

While a well-defined plan is essential, be prepared to adapt to changing circumstances. Project plans should be dynamic documents that can accommodate unforeseen challenges. Build contingency plans and be open to adjusting timelines or resources when necessary.  

Resource allocation  

Allocate resources judiciously, considering the project's scope and objectives. Ensure that team members have the necessary skills and tools to complete their tasks efficiently. Regularly monitor resource usage and make adjustments as required to maintain optimal productivity. 

Clear scope management  

Prevent scope creep by rigorously managing project scope. Document all scope changes, assess their impact on the project, and obtain proper approvals. A well-defined scope ensures that the project stays on track and within the agreed-upon boundaries. 

Team collaboration  

Promote a collaborative team environment where members feel valued and empowered. Encourage cross-functional collaboration, knowledge sharing, and a shared sense of ownership. A cohesive team is more likely to overcome challenges and deliver successful outcomes. 

Comprehensive d ocumentation  

Project Management


Success in Project Management is not just a matter of chance; it's a product of meticulous planning and execution. The Project Planning Phases form the bedrock of this success. By adhering to key strategies like clear communication, stakeholder engagement, risk mitigation, and a commitment to quality, project managers can navigate the complexities of any endeavour, ensuring that projects reach their intended destinations with efficiency and excellence. 

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  • Concludes with the project kickoff meeting


The Planning Phase is critical to a project’s success. A well thought-out project plan will provide the project team with a clear direction and understanding of their contributions to the success of the project.  A detailed project plan is simply a list of the tasks and activities that must be accomplished in order to reach a milestone or produce a deliverable.  Where the Project Charter is created at the macro level, the detailed project plans are at the micro level and function as the work plan for each team member.

In the Planning Phase, the Project Manager works with the project team to create the technical design, task list, resource plan, communications plan, budget, and initial schedule for the project, and establishes the roles and responsibilities of the project team and its stakeholders.  Project planning is an iterative process which may occur consistently throughout the project.  The level of planning detail required for work more than 2 – 3 months in the future may not need the same precision as work required in the next two months.  However, these plans should be reviewed and revised every month until completion of the project.  The frequency for doing iterative planning will also depend on the size, complexity and risk level of the project.

Planning Processes Activities

  • Gather functional requirements, to define scope of work as needed
  • Perform a risk assessment, analysis and include mitigation options as appropriate (optional)
  • Determine resources and staffing needs
  • Assess the communication needs and, if required, prepare a communication plan
  • Analyze testing needs and plan accordingly
  • Assess training needs and develop a strategy or plan as appropriate
  • Prepare a detailed scope document that includes how to verify completion of deliverables (optional)
  • Create a project plan that establishes the work breakdown structure and a schedule
  • Obtain consensus of the project team and project stakeholders on project plan
  • Enter the Project Plan into ServiceNow
  • Conduct the Project Kickoff Meeting

Deliverables of the Project Planning Phase:

Project Plan

The Project Plan is a task list created within ServiceNow.  The Project Plan contains:

  • Start/end dates
  • Estimated effort
  • Estimated duration
  • Resources – who will do the work
  • Schedule – the dates the work will be done
  • Dependencies – which tasks depend on the start or completion of another task

Communications Plan (optional)

A communication plan facilitates effective and efficient communications with the various audiences having a major stake in the project. It describes how project communications will occur.  The Communications Plan should be created using the template in Appendix B.     

A communication plan includes the following elements:

  • Communication objectives
  • Target audiences
  • Key content for the communications
  • Communication method and frequency

Resource Allocation Plan (optional)

A resource allocation plan is scheduling of the project team while taking into consideration both the resource availability and the project time.  Resource allocation is important because it gives project managers and project team members a clear picture on the amount of work that has to be done. It also helps to have an insight into the team’s progress, including allocating the right amount of time to everyone on the team. But above all, resource allocation in project management helps to control all the workload. Resource plans should include a projected estimate of the amount of time each resource is planned to contribute to the project on a monthly basis.  Resource plans are reviewed on a monthly basis.  We anticipate that these estimates have less precision the further out they are in the project timeline.

Service Transition Plan (optional)

A service transition plan helps manage the change of state of a service in its lifecycle. Managing new, changed and retired services that may be created or altered as part of a project protects the product environment. Curating service knowledge helps all stakeholders make informed, reliable decisions and support challenges with service delivery.  Both managing service risk and curating service knowledge are integral to service transition.

Project Kick-Off Meeting

The Project Kickoff Meeting formally recognizes the start of the project. The Project Manager uses this meeting to communicate a shared view of the project to ensure understanding of the approved Project Charter and plan.  The Project Kickoff Meeting provides an opportunity for the following:

  • Introduce Project Sponsor, Project Owner and Project Manager
  • Introduce Team Members and Stakeholders
  • Review Project Scope, Definition and Objectives
  • Review High-level Timeline & Milestones, Roles, and Budget
  • Review Deliverables
  • Review Challenges
  • Explain Next Steps

The Project Kickoff Meeting ensures that all stakeholders are familiar with and share a common understanding of the approved Project Charter and that they are aware of the next steps to complete the project work plan. The more complete the resulting plans, the more likely project implementation will progress efficiently and effectively.  The following persons/roles must be involved in the Project Kick-Off Meeting:

  • Project Manager
  • Project Team/Stakeholders
  • Project Sponsor/Project Owner

Phase Gate:Project Plan Review & Approval

A project plan is finalized when it is formally accepted and approved by the Director of the Project Management Office. Formal approval acknowledges that all the deliverables produced during the Planning Phase are complete, reviewed, and accepted.  The Project Manager should review the project plan with the PMO Director to indicate final approval of the plan.  This approval marks the plan as the go-forward agreement and can be viewed as a project management milestone.

  • Obtain approval to move forward with executing the project plan
  • Conduct the Project Kick-off Meeting
  • After the Kickoff meeting, the Project phase should be changed to Executing

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Project Milestones Effective Planning, Phases, And Management With Examples In Scheduling

Project Milestones Effective Planning, Phases, And Management With Examples In Scheduling

Written By : Bakkah

25 Mar 2024

Table of Content

Definition of Milestone in Project Management?

What is milestone planning, importance of milestone planning in project management, milestones in scheduling, project milestones examples, phases of milestones in pm, how to identify project milestones, how to manage project milestones, what is the difference between milestones and tasks, what is the difference between milestones and deliverables, what is the difference between milestones and goals, how many milestones should a project have, what is a developmental milestone, popular articles.

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Navigating the complexities of project management requires a keen understanding of Project Milestones, those pivotal markers that signify progress, achievement, and key stages within a project's journey.

In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the intricacies of project milestones, exploring their definition, planning steps, importance, management techniques, and comparisons with other project components like tasks, deliverables, and goals.

Moreover, we'll shed light on the significance of developmental milestones in child development, offering insights into how monitoring these markers shapes early intervention and support strategies .

This guide is your trusted resource for seasoned project managers seeking to refine their milestone management skills to master milestones effectively.

In project management, a milestone is a significant event or achievement that marks a key point in the project timeline. Milestones are used to track progress, evaluate performance, and communicate important stages of the project to stakeholders.

They are typically associated with specific deliverables, deadlines, or objectives and serve as checkpoints to ensure that the project is on track and meeting its goals.

Milestones can vary in nature and significance depending on the project, but they often represent major accomplishments, such as completing a phase of work, reaching a critical decision point, or delivering a key component of the project.

Milestone planning is a critical aspect of project management that involves identifying key milestones and incorporating them into the project schedule. These milestones serve as checkpoints to ensure that the project stays on track and meets its objectives. 

By breaking down the project into manageable phases, identifying key deliverables within each phase, and determining the milestones that represent significant points of progress or completion, project managers can effectively track project advancement and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

Furthermore, milestone planning helps in estimating timeframes for achieving each milestone, assigning responsibilities to appropriate team members, and documenting milestones including their descriptions, associated deliverables, deadlines, and responsible parties.

With a well-defined milestone plan in place, project managers can monitor progress throughout the project, make timely adjustments, and ultimately ensure successful project completion.

Milestone planning is vital in project management for tracking progress, managing risks, allocating resources efficiently, facilitating communication, aiding decision-making, and fostering accountability and motivation within project teams.

It ensures projects stay on track toward successful completion. Here is a detailed discussion of the importance of milestone planning in project management:

1. Progress Tracking

Milestones provide clear checkpoints to track progress throughout the project lifecycle. They help project managers and stakeholders gauge how well the project is advancing toward its goals.

2. Risk Management

Identifying and planning milestones allows project managers to anticipate potential risks and plan mitigation strategies accordingly. By monitoring milestone achievement, they can identify deviations from the plan early and take corrective action to minimize risks.

3. Resource Management

Milestone planning helps in allocating resources effectively. By knowing when specific tasks or deliverables are expected to be completed, project managers can optimize resource allocation and ensure that resources are available when needed.

4. Communication

Milestones serve as important communication points for project stakeholders. They provide a common understanding of project progress and help in aligning expectations among team members, clients, and sponsors.

5. Decision Making

Milestones provide decision-making points where project managers can assess project performance and make informed decisions about adjustments to the project plan , resources, or scope.

6. Motivation and Accountability

Achieving milestones provides a sense of accomplishment for project teams and motivates them to stay on track. Milestones also create accountability by clearly defining responsibilities and deadlines for project tasks.

Overall, milestone planning is crucial for effective project management as it ensures that projects progress smoothly, risks are managed proactively, resources are utilized efficiently, and stakeholders are informed and engaged throughout the project lifecycle.

Milestones in scheduling refer to key points or events in a project timeline that mark significant progress or completion of specific tasks or deliverables. These milestones are crucial for tracking project progress, managing dependencies, and ensuring that the project stays on schedule.

Examples of milestones in scheduling include project kickoff, completion of major phases, delivery of key components, and project closure. Milestones serve as checkpoints to assess project performance and make necessary adjustments to keep the project on track toward successful completion.

Project milestones are significant events or stages within a project that mark its progress. They help in tracking the project's development and ensure that it stays on schedule. Here are some examples of project milestones that are commonly applicable across various types of projects:

1. Kickoff Meeting Held

The kickoff meeting brings together key stakeholders, project team members, and other relevant parties to formally launch the project. It sets the tone for collaboration, establishes roles and responsibilities, and ensures everyone is aligned with the project's objectives, scope, and expectations.

This milestone fosters engagement and commitment from the project team and stakeholders right from the outset.

2. Project Plan Approval

The approval of the project plan marks the completion of detailed planning activities, including defining tasks, estimating resources, establishing schedules, and identifying risks.

This milestone ensures that the project team and stakeholders are aligned on the approach and have a clear roadmap for executing the project. It serves as a reference point for monitoring progress and managing expectations throughout the project.

3. Milestone Deliverables Completed

Milestone deliverables represent significant achievements or outcomes within the project, such as the completion of a prototype, the launch of a marketing campaign, or the implementation of a software module.

The completion of milestone deliverables demonstrates tangible progress toward the project's objectives and provides opportunities for feedback and validation from stakeholders. It also helps in assessing whether the project is on track to meet its goals within the planned timeline and budget.

4. Milestone Review Meetings

Regular milestone review meetings provide a platform for the project team to assess progress, discuss challenges, and make necessary adjustments to ensure the project stays on track.

These meetings facilitate communication, collaboration, and decision-making, helping to resolve issues promptly and maintain momentum. This milestone emphasizes the importance of ongoing monitoring and adaptation to ensure successful project execution.

5. User Acceptance Testing (UAT) Passed

User Acceptance Testing (UAT) Passed" is a pivotal milestone in the project lifecycle, especially in software development or system implementation projects.

The successful completion of UAT indicates that the system meets the specified requirements and functions as intended from the user's perspective. It signifies that the stakeholders have validated the system's usability, functionality, and performance, ensuring that it aligns with their expectations and business needs.

6. Project Closure

Project Closure marks the final stage of the project, encompassing tasks like handing over deliverables, conducting a final review, and documenting lessons learned. It signifies the completion of project objectives, releases resources, and ensures a smooth transition to post-project activities.

These milestones serve as checkpoints to ensure that the project is progressing as planned and can help identify any issues early on, allowing for timely adjustments and corrections. They also help in communicating progress to stakeholders and maintaining accountability within the project team.

In project management, milestones are typically associated with specific phases or stages of a project. While the exact phases may vary depending on the project methodology or framework used, the following are common phases where milestones are often identified:

1. Initiation Phase

This phase marks the beginning of the project, where key activities include defining project objectives, identifying stakeholders, conducting initial feasibility studies, and securing project approval. Milestones in this phase may include project charter approval, stakeholder identification, and a project kickoff meeting.

2. Planning Phase

During this phase, detailed project planning takes place, encompassing activities such as developing project schedules, creating work breakdown structures ( WBS ), defining project scope, identifying resources, and establishing communication and risk management plans.

Milestones may include completion of the project management plan, approval of the project schedule, and allocation of resources finalized.

3. Execution Phase

The execution phase involves implementing the project plan, executing project activities, managing resources, and monitoring progress. Milestones in this phase may include the completion of major deliverables, milestones for specific project phases or stages, and achievement of significant project tasks.

4. Monitoring and Controlling Phase

In this phase, project progress is monitored, and corrective actions are taken to address deviations from the project plan. Milestones may include regular project status reviews, completion of quality assurance activities, and implementation of changes to the project plan as needed.

5. Closure Phase

The closure phase marks the end of the project, where final deliverables are handed over to stakeholders, project documentation is completed, and project closure activities are conducted. Milestones may include formal acceptance of project deliverables, project sign-off by stakeholders, and completion of project closure documentation.

These phases represent a high-level overview of the project lifecycle, and milestones are identified within each phase to signify progress, completion of key tasks, and achievement of project objectives.

Milestone planning and management are essential for effectively tracking project progress, ensuring alignment with project goals, and facilitating successful project delivery.

Identifying project milestones is a crucial step in project planning and management. Here's a systematic approach to identifying project milestones:

1. Understand Project Objectives

Begin by gaining a clear understanding of the project's overall objectives and desired outcomes. What are the specific goals that the project aims to achieve?

2. Breakdown Project Scope

Break down the project scope into smaller, manageable components. Identify major deliverables, key tasks, and phases of the project.

3. Consult Stakeholders

Engage with project stakeholders, including clients, sponsors, team members, and subject matter experts, to gather their input on important project milestones. Consider their perspectives on what constitutes significant achievements or progress points.

4. Review Project Requirements

Review project requirements and specifications to identify critical milestones associated with key deliverables of project milestones.

5. Consider Project Constraints

Take into account project constraints such as time, budget, resources, and dependencies when identifying milestones. Milestones should be realistic and achievable within the project constraints.

6. Use Project Management Templates

Utilize project management templates such as Gantt charts, work breakdown structures (WBS), and project schedules to help identify milestones. These tools can provide a visual representation of project tasks and dependencies, making it easier to identify significant milestones.

7. Think in Phases

Break the project down into phases or stages, and identify milestones for each phase. Milestones may mark the completion of a phase, the achievement of key deliverables, or the occurrence of important project events.

8. Apply SMART Criteria

Ensure that milestones are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (SMART). This will help in clearly defining milestones and tracking progress effectively.

9. Document Milestones

Document identified milestones along with their descriptions, expected completion dates, and responsible parties. Maintain a milestone register or tracker to keep track of milestone progress throughout the project lifecycle.

10. Review and Refine

Regularly review and refine the list of milestones as the project progresses. Adjustments may be necessary based on changes in project scope, priorities, or unforeseen challenges.

By following these steps, project managers can effectively identify project milestones that represent significant achievements, progress points, and key events throughout the project lifecycle. Milestones provide a roadmap for tracking project progress, managing risks, and ensuring successful project delivery.

Managing project milestones effectively is essential for ensuring project success and achieving desired outcomes. Here's a guide on how to manage project milestones:

1. Establish Clear Milestone Objectives

Ensure that each milestone has clear objectives and deliverables associated with it. Define what needs to be achieved at each milestone and why it's important for the overall project.

2. Assign Responsibility

Assign responsibility for each milestone to specific team members or stakeholders. Communicate roles, expectations, and deadlines to ensure accountability for milestone achievement.

3. Set Realistic Timelines

Define realistic timelines for each milestone, taking into account project constraints such as time, budget, and resources. Ensure that milestones are achievable within the allocated timeframes.

4. Monitor Progress

Regularly monitor progress toward milestone completion. Use project management tools and techniques such as Gantt charts, progress reports, and status meetings to track milestone progress effectively.

5. Identify Risks and Issues

Anticipate potential risks and issues that may impact milestone achievement. Proactively identify and address barriers to progress to minimize disruptions and keep the project on track.

6. Communicate Effectively

Maintain open and transparent communication with project stakeholders regarding milestone progress, challenges, and any adjustments to the project plan. Ensure that stakeholders are informed and engaged throughout the milestone management process.

7. Celebrate Achievements

Recognize and celebrate the achievement of project milestones to motivate team members and foster a sense of accomplishment. Acknowledge the hard work and dedication of those involved in milestone completion.

8. Adjust Plans as Needed

Be flexible and willing to adjust plans as needed based on changes in project scope , priorities, or unforeseen circumstances. Adapt milestone timelines and strategies as required to ensure project success.

9. Document Milestone Completion

The document the completion of each milestone, including any relevant documentation, approvals, or sign-offs. Keep a record of milestone achievements for future reference and project evaluation.

10. Review Milestone Performance

Conduct regular reviews of milestone performance to assess progress, identify lessons learned, and make improvements for future projects. Use feedback from milestone management to refine project processes and practices .

By following these steps, project managers can effectively manage project milestones, ensuring that projects stay on track, stakeholders are informed, and desired outcomes are achieved. Milestone management plays a critical role in project success and should be approached with diligence and attention to detail.

Milestones and tasks are both integral components of project management, but they serve different purposes and represent distinct aspects of project work. Here's a comparison table between milestones and tasks:

In summary, milestones represent significant progress points or completion of major deliverables within the project timeline, while tasks represent the individual actions or steps required to achieve those milestones and overall project objectives.

Milestones provide a high-level view of project progress and are used for tracking and communication, while tasks represent the detailed work required to accomplish project goals.

Milestones and deliverables are both critical components of project management, but they serve distinct purposes and represent different aspects of project work. Milestones are significant events or achievements that mark key points in the project timeline.

They serve as checkpoints to assess progress, signify the completion of major phases or stages, and indicate important project milestones. Milestones are often used to track overall project progress, communicate with stakeholders, and make decisions about project direction.

Examples of milestones include project kickoff, completion of project phases, approval of key deliverables, and project closure.

In contrast, deliverables are tangible outcomes or outputs produced as a result of project work. They represent the specific products, services, or results that the project is intended to deliver to its stakeholders.

Deliverables are typically measurable, concrete, and verifiable, and they contribute to achieving project objectives. Examples of deliverables include reports, prototypes, software applications, marketing materials, and completed construction projects.

While milestones represent progress points in the project timeline, deliverables represent the tangible results of that progress, highlighting the completion of specific project tasks or objectives.

Milestones and goals are essential components of project management, yet they serve distinct purposes and represent different aspects of project progress and achievement. Milestones are significant events or achievements that mark key points in the project timeline.

On the other hand, goals are overarching objectives or targets that the project aims to achieve. They provide a clear vision of what the project seeks to accomplish and serve as a guiding force throughout the project lifecycle .

Goals are often broad and strategic, representing the desired outcomes or benefits the project is intended to deliver. Examples of project goals include increasing revenue, improving customer satisfaction, enhancing operational efficiency, and launching a new product or service.

While milestones represent progress points in the project timeline, goals provide the overarching purpose and direction for the project, guiding decision-making and shaping project activities to align with strategic objectives.

The number of milestones in a project can vary significantly depending on factors such as the project's complexity, duration, scope, and industry. There is no fixed rule for the exact number of milestones a project should have, as it largely depends on the specific requirements and objectives of the project.

However, a project typically has several key milestones that mark significant progress points or the completion of major deliverables throughout the project lifecycle.

As a general guideline, projects often have anywhere from 5 to 15 milestones, but this can vary widely. Smaller projects may have fewer milestones, while larger and more complex projects may have a greater number of milestones to track progress across multiple phases or stages.

It's essential to strike a balance between having enough milestones to effectively track progress and communicate with stakeholders, while also avoiding excessive granularity that could lead to project management overhead.

Ultimately, the number of milestones should be determined based on the unique characteristics and requirements of each project, ensuring that they adequately reflect the project's progress and contribute to successful project delivery.

A developmental milestone refers to a specific skill or behavior that a child is expected to achieve by a certain age. These milestones are typically categorized into different domains of development, including physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and language development.

Examples of developmental milestones include sitting up, crawling, walking, babbling, speaking first words, recognizing familiar faces, following simple instructions, showing empathy, and solving simple problems.

Monitoring developmental milestones is crucial for assessing a child's growth and development and identifying any potential developmental delays or concerns. Healthcare providers, educators, and parents often use developmental milestone charts or checklists to track a child's progress and ensure they are meeting age-appropriate milestones.

Early identification of developmental delays allows for timely intervention and support, which can significantly impact a child's long-term development and well-being.

Advance Your Project Management Skills with Bakkah Learning's Certificates.

Looking to excel in project management and master milestone planning? Bakkah Learning offers a suite of courses tailored to your needs.

In our PMP Course , you'll gain comprehensive knowledge and skills to effectively plan, manage, and achieve project milestones. With this certification, you'll navigate projects with ease and ensure success at every stage.

PRINCE2 Certification provides a structured approach to project management, emphasizing milestone management. Define project stages, set clear objectives, and monitor progress through milestones for project success.

For those interested in program management, our MSP Course - Managing Successful Programmes certification offers insights into aligning project milestones with program objectives. Ensure coherence and efficiency in milestone planning across diverse project portfolios.

But we don't stop there. Dive into risk management with our PMI-RMP and MoR Certification courses, or explore project scheduling with PMI-SP . Ready to advance your career? Enroll now and become a master of milestone planning with Bakkah Learning!

In summary, mastering project milestones is crucial for project success. By following systematic planning steps and implementing robust management techniques, project managers can ensure smooth progress toward objectives.

Moreover, recognizing the importance of developmental milestones underscores their broader significance. With this guide, readers gain the knowledge and tools to navigate milestone-laden journeys confidently.

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Coastal residents opposed to abalone farm near Portland vow to fight on as project gets planning approval

A group photo of people with matching shirts holding up signs opposing the abalone farm

An "exhausting" six-year fight by residents on Victoria's west coast has seemingly come to a conclusion, but tenacious residents say they won't stop challenging the abalone farm project on their doorsteps. 

Over a year ago, planning experts, locals from Dutton Way near Portland, councillors and abalone farm operator Yumbah Aquaculture gave testimonies in a Planning Panels Victoria hearing.

This week, Victoria's Department of Transport and Planning wrote to the operator confirming an approval of amendments to a Glenelg Shire Council planning scheme which will enable the abalone farm to move through to the detailed design phase for a stretch of grass overlooking the ocean.

"How do I feel? I think the same as everybody [here]," said Dutton Way resident Lesley Yuill.

"Shattered. Disappointed. Devastated."

Dutton Way community fights proposed abalone farm

VCAT rejection 'circumvented'

In 2020 the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) rejected Yumbah Aquaculture's $60 million dollar plan, after a lengthy hearing.

Initially proposed to produce 1,000 tonnes of abalone, the 46-hectare farm would have been operational 24 hours a day.

Yumbah Aquaculture was then able to put forward an amended plan to the Planning Panels Victoria advisory committee for reconsideration, despite the VCAT rejection.

The revised proposal for Yumbah Nyamat abalone farm is on a 45.5ha block of land and would produce 500 tonnes of frozen and fresh abalone per year.

Including four abalone grow tank areas, two nurseries, retention dams and administration buildings, the company included "buffer planting" around the site to alleviate concerns about the visual impact of the farm.

A blueprint of the abalone farm

But residents say it's not good enough, questioning the planning process. 

"It should be held in fairly high concern by everyone," Ms Yuill said.

"Anybody who has land that the government, or that a private enterprise, would like to acquire can just go to the planning department and have an overlay on it that just totally contravenes what is right for down there."

Fellow resident Tony Wright stressed the residents had no objection to the farm itself, but to the placement.

"What is the point of having VCAT make a final decision when the plan can be changed a bit and resubmitted to central government?" Mr Wright said.

"Admittedly it'll be a smaller operation ... but it covers exactly the same footprint, the same area," he said.

"It just doesn't ring true to me that a state like Victoria could have a process like VCAT ... just overruled by a stroke of a pen in a bureaucratic office in Melbourne."

An aerial photo of Dutton Way

Glenelg Shire Mayor Karen Stephens said the farm will provide an economic boost for the region.

"Council is always looking for economic drivers for our region and the abalone farm is a world-class facility," Cr Stephens said.

"While some people will be pleased to hear of the planning ministers' decision, others won't be so happy ... but it is what it is, and we do have to accept that decision."

She encouraged concerned residents to contact the relevant authorities. 

"It has been a very long campaign. I would direct those residents back to the state government to understand the minister's reasons."

According to the operator, the farm construction will support 120 direct jobs and 75 indirect roles, with the 75 roles created when the farm is operational.

Yumbah Aquaculture chief executive officer, David Wood, said the company will now commence the detailed design.

Under state government requirements, the company is obliged to complete the design within two years, and have the farm fully operational by 2029.

“It is also important to acknowledge the commitment and resolve of the Yumbah people at our Narrawong farm, who’ve continued to work with a passion for our industry over the years this proposal has been in the spotlight,” Mr Wood said.

Close up of blue-grey shells of abalone in water.

Residents say they will now take stock and plan for the future, distressed but determined.

"It's been exhausting but it's not something we are about to give up on," Ms Yuill said.

"We are hearing everybody's comments advising them to sit tight until we understand exactly what is going on, and exactly what we can do.

"We will definitely get together and be discussing this."

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project planning phase

Microsoft, OpenAI planning $100B ‘Stargate’ to house supercomputer: report

M icrosoft and ChatGPT parent OpenAI are working on plans for a data-center project that could cost as much as $100 billion and include an artificial intelligence supercomputer called “Stargate” set to launch in 2028, according to a report on Friday.

The companies did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.

Rapid adoption of generative artificial intelligence technology has led to sky-rocketing demand for AI data centers capable of handling more advanced tasks than traditional data centers.

The Information reported that Microsoft would likely be responsible for financing the project, which would be 100 times more costly than some of the biggest current data centers, citing people involved in private conversations about the proposal.

The proposed US-based supercomputer would be the biggest in a series of installations the companies are looking to build over the next six years, the report added.

The Information attributed the tentative cost of $100 billion to a person who spoke to OpenAI CEO Sam Altman about it and a person who has viewed some of Microsoft’s initial cost estimates. It did not identify those sources.

Altman and Microsoft employees have spread supercomputers across five phases, with Stargate as the fifth phase.

Microsoft is working on a smaller, fourth-phase supercomputer for OpenAI that it aims to launch around 2026, according to the report.

Microsoft and OpenAI are in the middle of the third phase of the five-phase plan, with much of the cost of the next two phases involving procuring the AI chips that are needed, the report said.

AI chips are often sold at high prices. Chip company Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang told CNBC earlier in March that the latest “Blackwell” B200 artificial intelligence chip will be priced between $30,000 and $40,000.

Microsoft had also announced a duo of custom-designed computing chips in November last year.

The report said the new project would be designed to work with chips from different suppliers.

“We are always planning for the next generation of infrastructure innovations needed to continue pushing the frontier of AI capability,” Frank Shaw, a Microsoft spokesperson, said in a statement to the publication.

The proposed efforts could cost in excess of $115 billion, more than three times what Microsoft spent last year on capital expenditures for servers, buildings and other equipment, the report stated.

Microsoft, OpenAI planning $100B ‘Stargate’ to house supercomputer: report


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    The project life cycle is broken down into five project management phases: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, closure. These phases are your road map as you and your team conquer complicated projects. Meet Sofia. She leads the HR team at her company, and they're about to tackle the colossal project of overhauling their employee ...

  6. 8. Overview of Project Planning

    The purpose of the project planning phase is to: Establish business requirements. Establish cost, schedule, list of deliverables, and delivery dates. Establish resources plans. Obtain management approval and proceed to the next phase. The basic processes of project planning are: Scope planning - specifying the in-scope requirements for the ...

  7. The 9 Stages of a Successful Project Planning Process

    Follow these steps to create your project plan: 1. Determine the project goals and objectives. The first step in the project planning phase is to define the goals and objectives of your project. Project goals and objectives help you decide if the project should be prioritized (or even undertaken—essentially you need to use a proof of concept ).

  8. A Guide to the Project Life Cycle: Exploring the 5 Phases

    The project life cycle includes five main stages: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closure. Keeping an eye on the completion of each phase helps ensure the project stays on time and within budget. In this article, we'll explore the definition of project life cycle in depth and show how tools like Jira can ...

  9. What Is the Project Life Cycle? 5 Phases of the Process

    The project life cycle is a framework that represents the 5 key phases of project management: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control, and closure. The project life cycle is important because it provides firm footing for effective project management. It gives project managers a clear structure for guiding projects successfully ...

  10. 5 project management phases to improve your team's workflow

    1. Project initiation. In the initiation phase of the project management model, the project is defined on a broad level. This is the time to identify project sponsors and stakeholders and begin the initial research phase. It's also a good idea to document the project in writing so you can easily distribute the communication plan to the rest of the team.

  11. What Is The Project Life Cycle: The 5 Phases Explained

    Key Steps For Project Planning. Create a project management plan: Identify the phases, activities, constraints, and project schedule, and create a project timeline with a work breakdown structure (WBS) and Gantt chart. Create a financial plan: Create a project budget and cost estimate, and a plan to meet your maximum cost, complete with ...

  12. The Four Phases of Project Management

    The Four Phases of Project Management. Planning, build-up, implementation, and closeout. Whether you're in charge of developing a website, designing a car, moving a department to a new facility ...

  13. Project phases

    Phase 2: Project Planning This is the first phase where you really have to go into detail. During the project planning phase, you have to plan every aspect of the project, down to a weekly (or even daily) level. As you can probably guess, the planning phase is critical: 95% of your project's success depends on how well you plan things

  14. What Is Project Planning? Benefits, Tools, and More

    What is project planning? Project planning refers to the phase in project management in which you determine the actual steps to complete a project. This includes laying out timelines, establishing the budget, setting milestones, assessing risks, and solidifying tasks and assigning them to team members. Project planning is the second stage of ...

  15. Demystifying the 5 Phases of Project Management

    Project management can be divided into five phases. First, stakeholders initiate the project, and then define and plan it. Next, the team executes the project and monitors its performance. Finally, once the project is completed, it must be closed out. Download a Phased Project Plan Template for.

  16. 5 Project Management Phases Explained

    Phase 1: Initiation. Phase 2: Planning. Phase 3: Execution. Phase 4: Project Monitoring and Adjustment. Phase 5: Closure. Bottom Line. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Show more. Managing a ...

  17. What is Project Planning

    Phases of project planning. Project planning is a critical element of project management, as it sets the stage for the entire project. There are eight steps: Define the goals and objectives of the project; Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals. This includes the milestones and smaller tasks the team must ...

  18. Planning Phase: Nail the project planning process

    As we mentioned above, a project plan can help your team understand what's required of them and when, help you get an idea of progress, and how long the process should take. During the project planning phase, you'll: Decide on a budget. Set a project schedule or timeline. Identify resources and any roadblocks and plan for those scenarios.

  19. Project Planning Phase

    03-18-2022. The project planning phase of the project management life cycle defines the scope and objective of a project. Proper project planning is one of the most important steps in ensuring everything is delivered on-time and on-budget. It can help smooth out the planning phase, helping bring together complex workstreams.

  20. The project life cycle: your complete guide

    A single product or service usually gets delivered at the end. The project follows a linear progression through the five steps of the project cycle: initiate, plan, execute, control, and close. The team moves on to the next phase only once the previous stage is complete—and performs each phase once.

  21. 5 Phases of Project Management Process

    According to the PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge) by the Project Management Institute ( PMI ), a project management life cycle consists of 5 distinct phases including initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure that combine to turn a project idea into a working product.

  22. How to Master the 5 Phases of Project Management Like a Pro

    The PMI created the five-step approach to give project managers a systematic process for taking projects from A to Z. These are the five phases of the project management life cycle: 1. Initiation phase. This is when you kick off the project and get stakeholders' buy-in by defining the project's purpose and setting goals.

  23. Project Planning Phases: Your Roadmap to Effective Execution

    Project Planning Phases: Key Strategies for Success Eliza Taylor 30 September 2023. Unveil the world of Project Planning Phases and understand the vital role they play in successful project management. Explore the significance of project planning and dive into the five key phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Controlling, and ...

  24. Project Planning Phase

    Project Sponsor/Project Owner; Phase Gate:Project Plan Review & Approval. A project plan is finalized when it is formally accepted and approved by the Director of the Project Management Office. Formal approval acknowledges that all the deliverables produced during the Planning Phase are complete, reviewed, and accepted.

  25. Project Milestones Effective Planning, Phases, And Management With

    This phase marks the beginning of the project, where key activities include defining project objectives, identifying stakeholders, conducting initial feasibility studies, and securing project approval. Milestones in this phase may include project charter approval, stakeholder identification, and a project kickoff meeting. 2. Planning Phase

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