The five phases of a project
There are five phases in the life cycle of a project. These being initiation, planning, execution, controlling and closure phases.
The initiation phase involves definition of the project at a broad level. Project feasibility is determined and investigation of if the project should be undertaken.
Project planning involves developing a plan for the project that is robust enough to give guidance on resourcing, finance, procurements and can give a team direction for producing quality outputs, handling risk and communicating benefits to stakeholders. It will also outlay the costs, scope and timeframe of the project.
Project execution phase is the phase that ties most closely to project management. Execution phase is all about the deliverables. The executions phase is about implementing the plan developed in the planning phase. If you want to study a Diploma of Project management click here.
Project control and monitoring is often done at the same time as the execution phase. As the teams execute the project plan, constant monitoring of progress, risk, resources and progress is required. Monitoring of the scope to prevent creep, identifying key performance indicators and reviewing milestones against baselines is important.
Closure phase is the final phase of the life cycle of project management. This phase is the completion of the project, communicating completion to stakeholders and often demobilisation and reallocation of resources to other projects. A strong review is often required in this stage to evaluate performance and allow the team to develop stronger processes and develop skills and know how.
Decomposition is a very important in the creation of a work breakdown structure as it involves dividing a large piece into simpler and smaller pieces of tasks and activities.
Decomposition determines the project components, identifies milestones and creates packages that can be individually targeted. It is important to realise how much time spent in decomposition is correct for the project, as it is possible to do excessive decomposition which may lead to more work without much value in the time spent and decreased work efficiency. A correct decomposition will generate an individual task which can be effectively programmed and resources allowing effective planning. Decomposition is required in many applications as even simple projects require clear definition of activities from a work breakdown structure. The outcome of decomposition should be task that are able to be individually resourced and programmed for duration and effort.
Creating and monitoring schedules
Creation of a schedule begins with understanding the project and the tasks and activities that are required to be completed in order to complete the project. Once the tasks are established, the activities that are required to complete the tasks can be listed and then resourced as required for duration and effort. Each activity and task will be listed with a predecessor and successor in order to establish a timeline and also identify the critical path. It is important to identify the critical path so that these tasks can be adequately resources as delays on these items will affect the progress of the project as they do not havea float for a delay. Monitoring of this schedule can be done in several ways individually or indeed combined. Monitoring of documents including procurement information, minutes created on site progress and in planning and developments need to be absorbed and often incorporated into programming. For instanc,e a progress on site is often a common header for minutes, if the certain tasks are running behind or ahead the appropriate changes can be introduced into the program and a comparison Gantt chart can be used to compare the impact on the program. Procurement of contractors can also be used to monitor the schedule as often timelines may need to be adjusted once expert advice is received. Many projects will also require regular attendance from the project manager or his staff and information from these inspections can be incorporated into the project. Such things as delays in getting the plant to a site can be identified this way and the impact monitored in the schedule.
Work breakdown schedules
Work breakdown structures (WBS) are the high level overview which are composed of activities. A work breakdown structure is oriented towards deliverables so they are able to be read as manageable sections of the project that can be further broken down to smaller activities that can be achieved. They will form essentially the bones of the project. The top level of the work breakdown structure is the project deliverable, these are defined further into smaller sections or portions of the project. Once all of these summary activities are completed the relevant summary task will be complete. The work breakdown structure is essential as they provide a structure of work where the project can be reduced to a series of task that can be easily completed. The WBS can also be used in estimation and project maintenance purposes as they allow the project to be assessed in smaller portions. Creation of relevant work breakdown structures can also be useful in identifying risks in the projects as if the activities are not able to be correctly defined or planned it will flag an area that may need additional planning or development. Whilst not all work breakdown structures will not have the same amount of detail under them, it is important for them to be able to be completed once all of the relevant activities are finished. Learn about cash flow from project managers by reading this article