Awaken the Project Manager Inside You!


Recently, I enrolled in a course entitled “Project Management for the Office Professional” at Graduate School USA. To tell you the truth, I was skeptical. In my mind, project management had nothing to do with my desk job. Isn’t a project manager supposed wear a hard hat at construction sites? I could not have been more wrong.

According to the Project Management Institute, a project can be defined as “as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service.” There are two important components to this description. First, projects are short-term; that is, they have defined beginnings and endings. Next, they are novel, apart from routine operations. Updating the employee handbook, office moves, and marketing campaigns are examples of projects. Learning the basics of project management will enhance your strategic thinking and productivity. As such, this week’s post shares the four stages of the Project Life Cycle.

 1. Initiation

Initiation is the first phase and involves laying the groundwork. You begin a project by defining its purpose and developing the rationale behind its implementation. As the project manager, you want to avoid “scope creep,” or adding to the project’s original purpose.  The project team is assembled at this juncture.

 2. Planning

After defining the project and selecting your team, the planning phase commences. This involves creating a document suite to guide the team throughout the project’s rollout. For complex endeavors, the initiation and planning phase should not be rushed. Doing so will invariably prompt delays and cost overruns.

3. Execution

After defining and mapping the project, you are now ready to execute. Here, the work to build intended outputs is undertaken. As deliverables come online, processes are set in motion to monitor and control them. At this phase, a good project manager will expect snafus and adapt accordingly. The key is keep the project on time and within budget.

 4. Closure

Projects come to an end. Closure involves releasing final deliverables to the clients(s), storing project documentation properly, and communicating project cessation to all stakeholders. The last step is to undertake a Post Implementation Review to determine project success and note any takeaways for future work.

In the Initiation and Planning phases, time and money expenditures are relatively modest. Executing the project is where the majority of resources are spent. Therefore, the work at the outset determines the project’s success or failure. Although there are plenty of infamous examples of disastrous project rollouts, proper planning is possible. But even the most organized projects come with surprises. Nonetheless, understanding the four stages of the Project Life Cycle will save you time and money. Whether your realize it or not, you are a project manager. Word to the wise: practice the four phases in your projects!

Wander Cedeño is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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