Demystifying the 5 Phases of Project Management

Phases of project management lifecycle

Project management is getting bigger and better with every project. It isn’t limited to just overseeing a project from A to Z. It’s about what goes inside while planning, developing, communicating, executing, and controlling the project. It’s pretty much like playing Tetris where you need to fit different elements together in order to successfully complete the levels.

In this article, we will discuss every element of project management so that you can have a better understanding of them. How about we go back to basics and then move to the advanced aspects of project management?

What is project management?

According to Wikipedia, “Project management is the discipline of initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing the work of a team to achieve specific goals and meet specific success criteria at the specified time.

The knowledge of project management can be drawn from factors such as integration, scope, time, cost, quality, procurement, human resources, communications, risk management, and stakeholder management. Project management depends upon these factors and brings a unique approach to each project.

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What is a project process?

The project process can be described as a unique action that represents the whole project implementation and internal processes in a project. A project manager decides and implements the work instructions, procedure, network plans, and project management software for the execution of a project.

PMBOK concept of the project management cycle

It’s inevitable to discuss project life cycle while talking about project management phases. The project phases make up a project life cycle and the phases are decided and chosen in a way that perfectly goes with the project requirements. According to the PMBOK, the elements of a project life cycle should define:

  • What work must be accomplished?
  • What are the deliverables?
  • Who will be a part of the project team?
  • How to monitor and control each phase?

These elements help project managers to define what needs to be done before moving to the next phase of a project.

Phases of project management

There are five phases of project management. These phases are as follows:

  1. Initiation
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Performance monitoring
  5. Closure

Phase 1: Project initiation

project initiation

This is where a project starts. The purpose of this phase is to define the project in a larger sense. Here, the project manager starts with a kick-off meeting with a client(s) to understand the goals and objectives and most importantly, their expectations from it. It’s essential that he goes through all the details and ask as many questions as possible to develop a better understanding of the project.
In the initiation phase, they answer the following questions :

  • Why this project?
  • Is the project feasible?
  • Who are going to be potential partners in the project?
  • What are the boundaries of the project?
  • How does the end-result look like?

Once the project is given a green light, the project manager creates a project initiation document (PID) where he outlines the purpose and requirements of a project.

Tip: Always include at least one developer in a meeting so that he can answer and provide guidance while dealing with the more technical questions related to a project.

Phase 2: Project planning

Project Planning

Once you’ve defined all the objectives, it’s time to develop a roadmap for everyone to follow. It involves setting goals and describing job-responsibilities to the project members. Many project managers set S.M.A.R.T goals to make the process achievable.

S.M.A.R.T goals It is a popular goal-setting process that helps you set goals which are ambitious yet doable. If you break the word, every alphabet signifies a quality that can help you set well-crafted goals.

Specific: To set specific goals and have an answer for every what, who, where, which, when, and how.
Measurable: To define criteria that can be used to measure the success of a goal.
Attainable: To identify what it will take to achieve those goals.
Realistic: To set goals that are actually doable and achievable in the given time.
Time-bound: To create a timeframe to achieve every goal.

Usually, this is the most challenging phase of project management as project managers need to take care of the preconditions, functional requirements, operational requirements, and design limitations. Moreover, this phase also involves identifying the work, preparing the schedule, and estimating the cost and is often referred to as risk management.

Tip: While creating a schedule, make sure it doesn’t take longer than 10 days. Be sure every project member is sure of their responsibilities and accountable for that.

Also read – Best Risk Management Software in 2024

Phase 3: Project execution

Project Execution

This is the phase when the project starts taking it shape. As a lot of things are happening while executing a project, maybe that’s why it’s referred to as meat of the project. The programmers are working on coding, web designers with the graphic material, status and performance reports are made by project managers. This phase is also called implementation phase.

Here are some of the important things are being taken care of in the implementation phase.

  1. Report progress: Regular updates and status reports are required when the project is in the execution stage. It’s important to provide the required information in the right format and identify the issues as well. These resources will prove beneficial in the times of a crisis.
  2. Hold weekly meetings: Weekly meetings can save your team deviating from the important activities. Clear agendas should be set for the meeting so that no time is wasted as team members are already well-aware what the meeting is for and the overall productivity doesn’t get affected.
  3. Manage problems: As the project is in motion, problems are bound to happen. You can face issues like quality, time management, the decline in a team’s morale that can threaten the success of a project.

The main objective is to achieve results that meet the requirements and were agreed-upon initially.

Tip: Consider using a project management software like ProofHub where you can create plans, assign tasks, communicate and collaborate with other project members and keep everyone in the loop regarding the progress of tasks.

Phase 4: Project performance

Project Performance

This phase is about measuring project progress and overall performance to see if everything aligns with the project management plan or not. Different project managers use different techniques to measure performance. Some use a project management software while others use key performance indicators (KPIs) to determine if it is on track or not.

Some of the common KPIs to measure project performance are:

  • Project objectives: If a project stays on schedule and desired budget, it’s an indication that it will meet the expectations of the decision-makers and clients.
  • Quality deliverables: This helps to determine if deliverables are being met or not.
  • Cost tracking: Project managers need to be accountable for the effort and cost of resources.
  • Project performance: Any changes made in the project due to scope-creep or other unforeseen circumstances are taken into account while measuring the overall progress of the project.

Tip: After every phase, review, track progress, and if required, make adjustments to the project plan to deliver it in the best possible manner.

Phase 5: Project closureProject closure

This phase represents the completed project. It is the last phase of project management that is also called post-mortem or follow-up phase. Generally, once the project is completed and delivered, the effective project managers set aside some time to identify the strengths, valuable team members are recognized, what went wrong, how it can be rectified, and what are the takeaways from the project. Most of the times, project managers neglect this phase, considering it unnecessary. However, if we take out some time to analyze the strengths and weaknesses, it will be of help to approach the future projects with more enthusiasm and dedication.

How a project manager closes the project?

  1. Project performance is evaluated
    If there are elements that went really well or something didn’t go as planned, it is the time to bring them up. The project manager brings out the performance reports and evaluates how well the project has performed.
  2. Closing the project with a team meeting
    The final team meeting is a great way to reflect how well the project went and share the takeaways with the team members so that the future projects can be handled in a better way.

And, a project is finally closed!

Tip: Using a cloud-based software will help you collect and save all the documents in one place throughout the life of a project.


There is no perfect way to project management. However, you can give a proper structure to your project using these phases and take care of each phase in the best possible manner. Also, project management involves following an established project management methodology that follows a set of common project phases with processes that run across each phase. Be smart enough when using project processes and don’t forget to change them as per the project requirements. Make the most of previous successes and project failures and adopt effective project management techniques and the right or mixed methodology to ensure the smooth execution of a project.

If you think, we have missed out on something, feel free to drop a comment below!

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