Best Practices

Demystifying the 5 Phases of Project Management

Jonathan Friedman
November 2, 2020
Demystifying the 5 Phases of Project Management

Project management is both an art and a science. It requires a level of emotional intelligence to interact with and achieve results with stakeholders from different domains and seniority levels. Additionally, it requires a level of organization and structure to ensure focus and results. As a result, there is a methodology for successfully planning and executing projects. That methodology is known as the five phases of project management. It was developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI). Whether you're an expert or a newbie, we at TrueNxus will share everything you need to know or want to know about the five phases of project management in this article.


Below is everything we will cover. Feel free to skip ahead.

  1. What is project management?
  2. What is the PMBOK® Guide Concept of the Project Life Cycle?
  3. What are the 5 phases of project management?
  4. Phase 1: Project initiation
  5. Phase 2: Project planning
  6. Phase 3: Project execution
  7. Phase 4: Project monitoring and controlling
  8. Phase 5: Project close
  9. TrueNxus for Project Management

What is project management?

Projects are time-bound, with a beginning and an end, effort to achieve a set of objectives. They are not your day-to-day operations. Therefore, project management "is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements" (PMI).

What is the PMBOK® Guide Concept of the Project Life Cycle?

To standardize project management best practices, the PMI created, A Guide to the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). The PMBOK® Guide provides you a process that you can apply to any number of projects. Additionally, in the PMBOK® Guide you can learn more about the project life cycle.

The project life cycle comprises of the five phases of project management that we'll discuss below. However, it is worth noting that organizations and project teams are likely to modify the five project phases. They may change the phase name, scope, or duration. Nevertheless, according to the PMBOK® Guide, the project life cycle should define the below elements.

The project life cycle provides structure and a controlled process that benefits every stakeholder in the project.

What are the 5 phases of project management?

In a practical sense, the five phases of project management make up the project's life, from beginning to end. Every project will treat each phase differently. Additionally, each project may call the stage by a different name, but they experience each step in some form. We will dive deep into each of the five phases in the subsequent sections.

Phase 1: Project initiation

During the first of five phases of the project management lifecycle, project initiation, you’ll formally launch the project. You’ll assemble the executive sponsor and the senior-most stakeholders of the project. Below are some of the standard tools and templates that you’ll want to develop during the project initiation phase.

When you develop the project charter it is particularly important to outline the project's goals and objectives. While there are several methods to setting goals, below are the two more popular methods.

  1. SMART goals
  2. CLEAR goals

1. What is a SMART goal?

SMART goals

SMART goals are one of the most well-known methods for setting objectives. The first known use of the term "SMART goal" occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. The acronym is most commonly associated with Peter Drucker's Management by Objectives. Each letter in SMART refers to a different criterion for judging objectives. While there is some variation in usage, below are some of the more common standards.

2. What is a CLEAR goal?

CLEAR goals

CLEAR goals is another well known yet newer method for setting goals. Below are the criteria for setting CLEAR goals.

Phase 2: Project planning

Once the project has been given the "green light," you’ll kick off the second of five phases of project management, project planning. During project planning, you’ll document the entire roadmap for the project. Below are some of the standard tools and templates that you’ll want to develop during the project planning phase.

It is worth noting that the project planning phase never really comes to a complete stop. Project planning is intertwined with project execution. Once project execution commences, things change, and therefore you may need to update the project scope and project plan to reflect new information.

Phase 3: Project execution

During the third of five phases of the project management lifecycle, project execution, the project is fully in-flight with the project teams actively completing tasks and developing deliverables. Project execution is typically what people think of when they think of project management. Below are some of the standard tools and templates that you’ll want to produce during the project initiation phase.

Phase 4: Project monitoring and controlling

During the fourth of five phases of project management, project monitoring and controlling, the project is in execution mode with the project teams actively completing tasks and developing deliverables. Project monitoring and reporting is typically the most challenging part of project management, especially for the project manager. During project monitoring and controlling, many project managers feel as if they are herding cats. While at the same time, the project team members feel as though they are always being bombarded with a status update request. Below are some of the standard tools and templates developed during the project monitoring and controlling phase.

Phase 5: Project close

During the fifth and final phase of the project management lifecycle, project close, the project's execution has been completed. Project close allows the project team to reflect on what went well and what went poorly, allowing everyone to learn and improve the next project. Below are some of the standard tools and templates that you’ll want to develop during the project close phase.

TrueNxus for project management

Planning and executing projects is extremely difficult, but TrueNxus can help you. TrueNxus was built with the five phases of project management in mind. You'll be able to perform the following five phases of project management:

TrueNxus will be your single source of truth where you can instill project management best practices. Not to mention, everyone will be aligned with real-time access to where things stand in cross-functional projects.

Below are several features on how TrueNxus can help you align around the five phases of project management.

1. Project charter

Project charter illustration

Leverage OKR and create a project charter. You can ensure the successful execution of projects by documenting and aligning the project's objectives, benefits, and risks from the very beginning.

2. Personalized views

Personalized views illustration

Every business function specializes in a specific domain and, as such, thinks about project management differently. To ensure the successful execution of cross-functional projects, you need a project management software that provides personalized views. These views need to be in sync as well.

TrueNxus provides you with the following views:

List

Project plan list

A list is a table that allows you to manage your project plan easily. Organize the work into groups such as workstreams or any logical way to categorize tasks.

Timeline

Project timeline, or Gantt-chart

Visualize the project as a Timeline, a Gantt chart like view that lets you understand how the entire project fits together. Make updates to the project plan through an interactive interface.

3. Automated project status reports

Project status report

We understand that each team member is busy balancing multiple priorities. Therefore, TrueNxus helps successfully execute projects by automatically analyzing the project health in real-time, giving senior leadership and the team the insights they need to make decisions and move the ball forward.

4. My Work

My Work - manage every task across every project

Another essential thing in projects being executed is understanding what you're on the hook for delivering. With TrueNxus, you can view every task and every dependency that is important to you, across every project, in one location, ensuring success.

5. Dependencies

Dependencies

Additionally, we know that you don't want to let your colleagues down or be let down. You can ensure the successful delivery of projects in matrix organizations through collaboration and by documenting task dependencies. By doing so you, you can be accountable when others are reliant on you. You can understand dependent tasks, change implications, and adjust course as needed.

6. Automated notifications

Automated workflows - notifications

You can also successfully execute projects by using project management software where you get notified when changes occur. With TrueNxus's 20+ out-of-the-box automated notifications, you will have the transparency you need to stay in-the-know.

7. Comments

Cross-functional collaboration by comments

Lastly, the entire team can ensure projects are successful by collaborating directly in the app. With TrueNxus, you and colleagues, and guests can communicate with one another directly in tasks.

By aligning around the five phases of project management, TrueNxus has everything you and your company need to plan and execute projects successfully.

See for yourself, and sign up for a free trial today (no credit card needed).