How to Manage a Project

Project Management

Five Project Stages

Organisations that manage projects on a regular basis develop their own internal framework of Project Stages, based on the project life cycle but translated to suit their own projects and business. Such frameworks specify the stages that projects should progress through with "stocktake" points at the end of each stage.

The following are typical project stages.       

Five Stages of Projects 

Stage 1 - Project Proposal
Essentially encompassing the first two phases - Concept and Feasibility - this stage covers the work involved in identifying a need or a problem, generating ideas and options, and then developing a preferred agreed proposal or solution - "this is what we should do".

Stage 2 - Project Scoping & Planning
A brief analysis and study to establish what the project will involve, what the risks and possible difficulties are, and how the project should be organised and tackled. To be carried out quickly (a few days or weeks for larger projects) and summarised in a short Project Plan or Scoping Report.

Stage 3 - Start Up
Because of the political nature of many projects and the number of stakeholders involved, most projects will need a start up stage to communicate the project, build support, and generally prepare the ground. For some projects is simply part of implementation.

Stage 4 - Implementation
Carrying out the implementation in terms of progressing the project activities, managing any people involved, and ensuring support for the project.

Stage 5 - Establish and Close
To ensure that the project is closed and that the responsibilities have been allocated for any future maintenance activities that need to be carried out.

Key Benefits from using stages are:

  • Makes Large Projects Manageable
    "Chunking" into stages turns a large project into a series of mini-projects. In practice this can be extremely helpful. When delivering the project, the Project Manager can focus and concentrate on the current and following stages, and simply concentrate on delivering and planning those.
  • Provides those sponsoring the project with a top-level plan and structure
    Provides an easily understood path forward. Very useful as an aid to project definition and communication. Sponsors and stakeholders can easily understand the sequence proposed.
  • Provides a Project Review framework
    Ends of stages make natural breakpoints. These can make excellent review and control points and provide the main basis for the strategic control of the project by the Project Sponsor, referred to later
  • Establishes Targets and Interim Goals
    At end-of-stages specify milestones and deliverables. These then can be used as Interim Goals.
  • Establishes the Pace of the Project
    By allocating dates to end-of-stages, you can manage the project pace. Try to avoid letting time slip on the early stages and thus robbing the later stages.