Project planning phase

It is the second phase of the project lifecycle. Planning entails defining the project fundamentals like the type of problem to be solved, the people who will be involved and activities to be taken in addressing the problem. During planning phase, the project manager develops a roadmap to be followed by the project team and sets the project’s initial goals. Further, job responsibilities are assigned to the team members at this phase (Kerzner, 2018). Staff development, procurement and development of project control are other fundamental activities in this phase. The emphasis on this stage is to develop a firm understanding of ways of executing the project and plan how the required resources will be acquired. Most project activities take place during this phase. However, the adjustment of these activities will continue throughout the project to respond to new challenges and opportunities (Lucidchart Content Team, 2017). Hence, planning occurs throughout the entire project life.

During planning, the project solution is developed in detail. Steps necessary to meet the project objectives are also set. All tasks to be completed in the project are identified and the required resources as well as strategy for their production – the management scope. In this phase, the project is broken down into smaller tasks. Moreover, tasks are set for each goal within the larger project. Setting smaller goals that are achievable within the given timeframe is important because they have a greater potential for success (Heagney, 2016). Most project managers use the SMART technique, a popular goal setting process to set ambitious yet doable goals. The project plan aligns the activities, tasks and timeframes of the project along with other determining factors. Further, the project manager coordinates the budget preparation by providing cost estimates on the expected labor, materials and equipment (Lock, 2017). Budget preparation is important because it is used in monitoring and controlling expenditure when implementing the project.

The fundamental components of project planning include identifying the activities, preparing schedules, and estimating the costs. When considering these components, the project team should identify and deal with any activities that are threatening successful completion of the project, an aspect known as risk management. During risk management, the potential threats are identified along with actions that can be taken to address each one of them with the goal of reducing the probability of their occurrence or reducing the impact if they arise. This is a crucial point in the project life to identify the stakeholders and create a communication strategy detailing the required information (Harrison & Lock, 2017). Further, because the stakeholders need to be informed on the project progress, the method of information delivery will be determined.

Project planning phase also has important steps that project managers should follow for a high degree of success. First, the project manager should create a project plan, which identifies the project timelines and tasks to be performed as well as the possible constraints. This is followed by creating a workflow document/work process that visualizes the project timeline major timelines. Further, the project manager should estimate the budget, create a financial plan, and gather the necessary resources (Heagney, 2016). Finally, the project manager should anticipate the potential risks that may bring the project to a stall and create mitigation measures to ensure quality and timely delivery of the project. The entire project team comes on board at this phase ready to start the project in the next phase. Everything team members should get an explanation of all the activities and clarification sought embarking on the project (Larson & Gray, 2015). Usually, project planning is the most challenging phase of the project because the project manager has to work to ensure all the conditions are set in place for before the project kicks off.

Implementing/execution phase

It is the action phase of a project when it start taking shape. This is when the actual tasks in the project are performed. The required materials/resources are transformed to meet the project goals. It entails numerous activities like acquiring and developing a project team, underrating the tasks and producing results. Throughout this period, it is vital to remain aware of time and cost constraints as well as performance, which have an impact on the project life cycle (Lock, 2017). In the execution phase, the project manager’s role is to ensure the project activities are executed according to the original plan.

The execution phase is another critical stage of the project. Important aspects happening at this stage include reporting progress which should be done on a continuous basis, holding weekly meetings to ensure the team is on track and in line with the project plan to ensure productivity of the project team and addressing problems that may arise. Once the project is in motion, it is common to encounter problems like time management, variation in quality and change in employee morale (Larson & Gray, 2015). These factors threaten the project success and if not addressed promptly, the outcome will be catastrophic.

Maintain constant communication is another essential attribute of this stage. Monitoring the progress of a project continuously is vital so that any appropriate adjustments can be made in case of variances from the project plan. This project takes a significant amount of the project manager’s team (Heagney, 2016). Using the progress reports and information coming out from the constant meetings, the project manager should make comparison with the actual project plan to measure the performance of project activities and take corrective action in case of any need. When taking an action, the project manager should aim at bringing the project back on course. However, if the variations cannot be adjusted, the team should record the modifications and publish an updated plan (Harrison & Lock, 2017). Stakeholders should be informed of any changes taking place throughout this process using the agreed format of communication.

When providing status reports, emphasis should be on the end-point. The project deliverables should be reviewed for quality. Measures against acceptance criteria should also take place for all the project outcomes. Once the deliverables are produced and the customer is satiated with the outcome, the project is ready for closure

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