5 Phases of Project Management

What problems and constraints do you face as a project manager? For many, lack of scope, poor communication and delays in work top the list.

A project manager wearing headphones monitors a project from his laptop

To state the obvious, project management can be difficult. Without careful planning and strategy, it can feel like you’re operating blind.

So, if you are in a project management position, starting with the basics is your best bet. Here, we’ll break projects down into five phases to help you understand what needs to be done and when.

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Project Management Lifecycle

Five Phases of Project Management

Phase 1: Project Conception and Initiation

Stage 2: Project Planning

Step 3: Project Execution

Step 4: Project Monitoring and Control

Stage 5: Project Close

The future of project management is looking brighter than ever.

Project Management Lifecycle

Regardless of size or scope, all projects follow a similar process. In project management, this process is called the project lifecycle.

A project lifecycle typically consists of four phases: initiation, planning, execution, and completion. However, some project managers add a fifth phase called monitoring and controlling.

The extra step can help managers keep the project on track and ensure that issues are identified and addressed promptly.

As a result, the five-phase model is considered to be more agile and effective in helping projects succeed. In fact, the Project Management Institute (PMI) also promotes a five-phase lifecycle.

In the next section, we’ll take a closer look at each phase of the project management lifecycle.

Five Phases of Project Management

Every successful project goes through the same five phases: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control.

Illustration showing the five project management phases

Phase 1: Project Conception and Initiation

Every project begins with conception and initiation. During this stage, an idea becomes a business plan, complete with goals, project charters and stakeholders.

It is also when the project team comes together with the project manager to create a comprehensive roadmap for the project.

Teams should answer a few questions at this stage, including:

  • What is the purpose of this project?

  • What are some possible barriers?

  • Who are the key stakeholders?

  • Does it have a minimum or maximum budget?

  • How long will this project take?

As part of this phase, the project sponsor (the person who has requested the project to be completed) approves the budget and timeline.

Graphic showing key results in phase one of project management

Stage 2: Project Planning

Once you’ve defined the project in broad terms, it’s time to nail down the details.

During this phase, the project manager develops a detailed plan for the execution, monitoring, and control of the project. It usually starts with setting goals.

When defining the goals of a project, the most popular are the SMART and CLEAR methodologies.

The acronym SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Using this framework ensures that your goals are clearly defined, realistic and achievable.

Let us see an example. A vague goal might be, “Develop an app that streamlines order fulfillment.” Using the SMART method, this goal would look something like, “Develop an application that reduces order fulfillment time by 20%.”

The acronym CLEAR stands for Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Acceptable and Refined.

In this methodology, the project team works towards a goal that is specific and achievable within the project’s time frame and budget. Everyone should be passionate about achieving it, and it should be related to the overall project objectives.

The plan should also include milestones and deliverables so that everyone knows what needs to be done, who handles what, and when the milestones must be completed. It also includes a breakdown of tasks, a timeline, a communication plan, risk mitigation strategies and a worst-case scenario plan.

There are several ideologies you can use to plan this step. By using agile project management, development resources are used effectively and customer needs are met.

This allows for quick and easy changes to be made, as well as keeping everyone up-to-date on progress. Agile project management makes it possible to manage software development projects more effectively and efficiently.

Graphic showing the key takeaways from phase two of project management

Step 3: Project Execution

As soon as the planning phase is over, it is time to start implementing the plan. This is where the real work is done.

During this phase, project managers establish workflows, assign tasks to team members, and ensure that everyone is on track. They also keep stakeholders and teams in the loop as the project progresses.

With so many details to juggle, many project managers take advantage of collaboration tools like Asana, Trello, and HubSpot. project management software To track tasks, deadlines, and budgets in one central location.

Screenshot of HubSpot's project management software

A well-designed project management tool will keep you on track and help you meet your goals. For a list of the best project management software see this helpful guide,

Graphic showing key takeaways from step three of project management

Step 4: Project Monitoring and Control

Stage four usually runs concurrently with stage three. After all, for a project to be monitored, it has to be running in the first place.

During this phase, the project manager works with his team to resolve any issues. This includes periodic reviews and updates to the plan to reflect changes in project scope or resource availability.

It is also important to monitor progress against the plan and take corrective action when necessary. For example, it may be necessary to modify the timeline to accommodate unexpected delays or changes.

On top of that, project managers can monitor progress against key performance indicators (KPIs) or critical success factors (CSFs). For example, you can measure whether your project is on schedule and budget or if specific tasks are being completed.

Graphic showing the main points of the fourth phase of project management

Stage 5: Project Close

It is the last phase of the project management lifecycle. This is when you hand over the deliverables to the project sponsor for approval. During this phase, the team disbands and any contractual hire for the project will be terminated.

After closure, the project manager conducts a final review that documents the lessons learned from the project as well as any necessary data that may be useful in the future.

Team members and stakeholders also discuss failures and successes during the presentation of the report. It helps in improving performance and productivity throughout the organization.

Graphic showing key points in the fifth step of project management

The future of project management is looking brighter than ever

Traditionally, project management was done with pen and paper or, at best, a spreadsheet. These methods have become ineffective due to the complexity of the projects and the dispersion of the workforce.

A digital-first approach is required to track progress and meet deadlines. HubSpot’s project management software is one such tool that can definitely help with project management.

With this software, teams can streamline their workflows, track their progress, share documents, and manage their tasks.

On top of that, the HubSpot CRM platform enables you to easily integrate it with your other sales and marketing tools. This makes it easy to track progress and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Additionally, the software provides users with real-time insight into their workflow, enabling them to identify bottlenecks and adjust accordingly.

So, if you are looking for ways to raise the level of your project management, then this is your chance. Get your project management template below to track your team’s progress and streamline your workflows to increase efficiency.

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