Understanding the Project Phases
Many life cycles follow a linear pattern. For software developers, it is usually design, code, test, user test, document, and go live. In project management, however, the cycle is not linear. Initiating and closing are phases that generally live on their own, but the planning, executing, and controlling processes are a cycle within themselves. During the execution of your plan, you must monitor how you are doing. Based on the results, you adjust your plan and begin executing against that one. This cycle will continue throughout the process until it is time to close the project.
It can be a bit overwhelming for many new project managers when they are assigned to a project. Following the standard life-cycle phases will allow a project manager to get started.
If you are unsure of how to start your project plan, then start with the standard five-phase life cycle. Then ask yourself what activities are required to complete each phase. This can jumpstart your thinking and get you going in the right direction. Many advanced project managers use this technique for their plans.
Many people will simply list tasks that are required to complete the actual work of the project. This can be a mistake and allow cost overruns. The reason is that up to 20–40 percent of the project cost could be outside of the actual tasks. For example: You have a project team of fifty people for a twelve-week project that entails a weekly, one-hour status meeting. If you did not list this as an item on your project plan, you may not have accounted for 600 hours. Understanding the project phases and what they contain will allow you to think of all of the items necessary to complete the project.