What Is Project Management & Its Steps

Posted in Operations & IT Articles, Total Reads: 653 , Published on 22 January 2016

This article focuses on project management and its steps. To understand Project Management, we need to understand what a project is. Dictionary meaning of a project is “Any piece of work that is undertaken or attempted” and yes, that is as simple as it is. A project is basically short-term which should be understood in the sense it has a definite beginning and a definite end time and hence a pre-defined scope as well as resources. Any task assigned as a “project” would imply that it is exclusive and is not a regular operation; in fact it is a set of tasks or operations designed to achieve a specific well defined end objective. And therefore any project work force or team consists of people who might not usually work together otherwise. The team may consist of cross national or cross organizational members.

Examples of projects are numerous and can vary from building construction to disaster management program for a calamity, a company foraying into new market, software development for customer relationship management to name a few. Successful execution and implementation of a project is measured against on time completion of deliverables, managing costs in budget, integration of all stakeholders etc.

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Now that we are familiar with a basic understanding of what a project is, we can define Project Management. Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) defines it as the application of Knowledge, Skills, Tools and Techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. There are various Project Management frameworks:

1) PMI: Project Management Institute-PMBOK. It is mainly used for large projects with major adoption in United States. Its advantage is that it has a structured approach to design and supervise complex projects. But is not an ideal framework for small projects or when requirements are prone to changing.

2) PRINCE2: Projects in Controlled Environment V2. Again, this is also for large projects and has seen adoption in Europe and Asia. The advantages and limitations are same as PMI.

3) SDLC: Software Development Lifecycle. Used mainly for large IT projects and has seen global adoption across corporations.

4) Agile Methodology is used in Information Technology sector for New Product Development. Agile is ideal for small projects and when requirements keep changing and hence it has seen adoption in startups globally. But it has the disadvantage of having a limited planning and documentation which may lead to issues down the road.

5) Lean Six Sigma: It is used in Quality and Business Process Reengineering (BPR). It is ideal for quality improvement initiatives but not useful for all project types. Lean Six Sigma has seen global adoption across corporations.


Project Management primarily consists of 5 steps or technically called the process groups:

a) Initiating

b) Planning

c) Executing

d) Controlling

e) Closing

These 5 process groups lead to further ten knowledge areas namely:

a) Integration

b) Scope

c) Time

d) Cost

e) Quality

f) Human Resources

g) Communications

h) Risk

i) Procurement

j) Stakeholders


As can be guessed, this phase consists of careful evaluation of the project against the deliverables and the value addition to the organization. In this phase, the project management team identifies if the project can be realistically completed. The project sponsors and various stakeholders perform due diligence whether to take up the project or rather choose another project. Nature of the product determines the feasibility evaluation studies to be conducted.


Project planning involves the making of project plan, and project charter along with formal writing down of project scope. Project scope outlines the work to be performed during the course of the project. The project management team should prioritize the project during this phase along with calculating the budget and sketching out of the project schedule. Resource requirement and mapping are also done in this phase.

Some of the important activities in this phase include making the Work Breakdown Structure, milestone and GANTT charts, reserving resources, planning of dates and interaction and communication modes with the sponsor as well as stakeholders based on set milestones, critical deliverables and deadlines. Risk mitigation is an essential component of the Planning phase and involves the identification of identified and unidentified risks. Risk identification is important for smooth execution of the project and reduces uncertainty. Any unidentified risk can lead to huge costs especially in later stages of the project and therefore a plan should be in place to deal with all sort risks. Basically risk management involves identification plus analysis of risk, approaches to mitigate the risks and planning of responses to risks.


In this phase, project deliverables are developed and completed. The execution should adhere to the plan developed in the last phase. Project execution and project control or project monitoring mostly occur in sync. Many tasks in this phase of project management include measuring project success metrics through status meetings and updates on development of project, reports on status of various aspects of the project, resources updates, human resources evaluation, development as well as performance during the course of execution.


In this phase, project managers mainly compare the project status plus the project progress against the actual plan made in the planning phase. Necessary changes are made here to incorporate various deviations. Changes can be made to schedules, budgets, resource requirement etc. All this is done to ensure that the project remains on track throughout. Verification of scope and controlling is done to monitor for scope creep as well as change control to track so as to manage changes to project requirements. KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) of cost, time, and manpower are used to measure the variation and its extent if any is there. In such a case of deviation, corrective measures are formulated and suggested to various project members for future progression of the project on track.


After the various constituting project tasks are completed, and the client has also approved of the project deliverables, project is measured for its performance against set performance indicators. It also consists of essential tasks of relieving the appointed resources for the project, identification and recognition of teams showing exceptional performance and termination of contracts specially taken up for the project.

This article has been authored by Aastha Chawla from SIBM Pune


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