The Basic Project Management Process

As stated in the post “What is Project Management“, project management works on the theory that, even though every project is unique, the same basic project management process can be used for all projects.

There are many different project management processes or methodologies. Some are aimed at solving specific issues or meeting the needs of certain industries. When learning about project management, the place to start is the basic project management process.

The Basic Project Management Process

The basic project management process is a linear one:
The four phases of the basic project management process
Let us take each of these four phases in turn:


Initiation: Getting a Project Started

The initiation phase of the basic project management process

The first phase of the project management process is called initiation. It is where the project is started. Steps during this phase include:

  • Clarifying what the project team will do.
  • Naming a project manager.
  • Telling the PMO (Project Management Office) that the project is starting.
  • Identify the project’s stakeholders. (Stakeholders are the people who can or will influence the project.)

The project sponsor is normally the person leading the project during this phase.

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Project Planning: Will the Project Create Value?

The planing phase of the basic project management process

Once it is clear what the project is expected to achieve, a plan of action is needed. The project planning phase will create that plan of action. More importantly, the project plan will also show if the project will create value for the organization once it is completed.

A full project plan will include at least the following:

  • The project schedule. This contains the date by which each major task is to be completed.
  • The resource plan. This lists the people, machinery, office space, and other resources that the project team will need.
  • The communication plan. This states which meetings need to be held and which reports need to be created.
  • The risk mitigation plan. This describes the risks for the project and the actions being taken to avoid or reduce those risks.

One of the results of the planning is a detailed business case for the project. The business case describes whether or not the project will be of benefit to the organization.

In most project management methodologies, project planning is often presented as being the core skill that a project manager needs to have. I disagree. The ability to create a good project plan is definitely important. However, in my opinion, the ability to manage diverse groups of people is even more important on a day-to-day basis than being able to create a good project plan.

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Execution and Monitoring

The execution and monitoring phase of the basic project management process

This phase has two tasks for the price of one!

Execution and monitoring is a repetitive process. The project manager regularly monitors the project progress. As each task finishes it frees up people and resources allowing other tasks to start.

Monitoring will also check that the project is still within budget, that it will complete on time, and that the quality meets expectations. If this is not the case then the project manager will take action to put the project back on track.

This phase continues until all the tasks in the project are complete and the project finishes.

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The closing phase of the basic project management process

The final phase of the project, closing, tidies up all the final tasks of the project so that the project can end.

Closing will include:

  • Hand over of the project results to the project sponsor.
  • Gather any knowledge that the project team created during the project. (“Lessons learned”)
  • Inform the PMO that the project has completed.