How to Manage a Project From Start to Finish

Skills of project manager

How to manage a project? It is nearly impossible to manage a project from start to finish without intense planning, communication, negotiation, and team building.  The success of a project depends on many factors.  But having a well-defined project plan can guide the project manager from start to finish without major challenges. 

What is a Project Manager?

The project manager is someone responsible for the day-to-day management of the project. The work of a project manager is so extensive and includes:

• Leading and managing the project team
• Planning the project work 
• Ensuring that all the project work is done to the right standard
• Managing all risks associated with the project
• Managing project stakeholders
• Making sure all the project work is completed within budget
• Ensuring that the project delivers the expected outcomes

To manage a project effectively requires influencing and good leadership skills.  The project manager is the fabric that holds the client and the project team together, which results in a quality outcome within the correct time frame.

By following the five steps in managing a project, a project manager will effectively and efficiently lead his or her team from a simple idea to the desired end result.

How to Manage a Project From Start to Finish?

Managing a project from start to finish effectively requires a project manager to lead the project team from a simple idea to the desired end result by doing the following:

1. Project Conception

The first step in managing a project effectively is to conceptualize and define the project. In this stage, the project manager will examine an idea to determine whether it will benefit the company or the client. During this phase, he or she will conduct research, answer questions about the project, and come up with ideas.

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The key points to consider are how long it will take, how much it will cost, and the effect it will have.

The benefits of the project need to match the resources and effort necessary to make it happen. This is the creative part of the process, but it can be organized into the following steps:

● Identify the project
● Define the goals and objectives
● Define the tasks
● Select the team for the project
● Create a timeline
● Adjust the plan as necessary

Once the project manager comes up with an idea for the project, it is necessary to define the goals and objectives. He or she will determine what purpose is served by the project, which ideas are feasible and valuable, and how it achieves the goals of the client or the company.

It is important to define the tasks that are necessary to turn the project idea into a reality.

Next, the project manager will select a team for the process. He or she will determine how many people should be on the team, what roles they will fill, and what specialized experience they should have. This will all be included in the presentation of the project to management or the client.

After the project manager determines that the idea is solid and well defined, he or she will present it to the team or individual in charge of approval. Management or the client may have other ideas that need to be incorporated into the project.

The project manager will adjust the plan and redefine the project based on this feedback. As soon as the higher-ups approve the plan, the concept stage is complete.

2. Project Planning

Project planning is the second project management step. During this phase, the project manager will plan all of the work that is necessary to complete the project.

The plan is essential for staying on track, meeting deadlines, and keeping the team engaged.

Project management skills such as organization and creating timetables are essential in this stage. In planning, the project manager will answer all of the following questions:

● What needs to be done?
● How will it be done?
● When will it be done?
● Who will do it?
● How will the project manager monitor and control it?
● What will it cost?

By defining the schedule and scope of the project, the project manager will have a much easier time throughout the project management process.

There is no such thing as overplanning; when the project is well defined and organized, the project team will have far less trouble executing it.

In addition, it is critical for the project manager to focus on managing a project budget during this phase.

It is important to have a realistic budget that includes not only known expenses but also potential surprises such as an unexpected change in supply costs.

Developing and managing a project budget that is realistic will allow the project to be completed more efficiently and keep the client happy.

The planning phase is the time to map out the details of the project clearly, and it is critical to its overall success or outcome. At the end of this phase, the project manager should know exactly what is expected of each team member and how to manage and control the progress.

3. Project Execution

The third step in project management effectively is the actual launch and execution of the project. During this phase, the original idea will become a reality. There are steps within this phase that will keep the project organized.

Managing a project team effectively is very important.  First, the project manager will meet with the team and clearly lay out the plan. He or she will assign tasks to team members and answer questions. The project needs to be clearly defined.

Each team member should understand his or her responsibilities, deadlines, and what is expected. In addition, the project manager should present the plan in a way that fosters enthusiasm and motivation among the team members.

When a project team understands what the project is and why it is important, each member is more likely to get excited about his or her role. With a motivated team, there is a high likelihood that the project will be completed with the utmost quality within the defined timetable.

4. Project Performance

The fourth step of project management effectively begins with the initial meeting and continues through the project completion. In this phase, project-leading skills are critical.

During the execution of the project, the project manager will continuously review and evaluate the process to ensure that it stays true to the original plan.

The project manager is responsible for keeping track of the progress of the project. By being present and keeping in touch with the team members through leading the project team, the project manager can identify and address issues and problems before they take the project completely off track.

In addition, team members will be able to ask questions and share their ideas about the project. Although the project should be well defined, there should always be room for suggestions to improve the process as it moves along.

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The project manager needs to continue to manage a project budget during this phase to ensure that the project makes it to completion.

In addition, it is important to manage a project portfolio, where the project manager will keep track of the progress of the project and ensure that it is aligned with the objectives of the client or company.

It includes documenting progress in the form of milestones, completed tasks, expenses, and the timeline. This will serve as a valuable point of comparison for future projects as well.

Communication is essential to keep the project moving forward. The project manager needs to schedule regular meetings where team members can provide updates and share their ideas about the project.

During the meetings, the project manager should remain flexible and listen to the team members. This will keep the team enthusiastic and motivated throughout the project, and they may have fresh ideas that make it better.

Effective time management will keep this phase of the project on schedule. The project manager needs to set aside time at the end of the day to plan the following day. He or she should delegate tasks when possible and prioritize what needs to be done and when.

Meetings should be efficient and positive. This will ensure that the team stays motivated and the project moves forward efficiently.

Finally, the project manager should schedule a time to celebrate project milestones. Plan the milestone celebrations ahead of time, and have an office gathering to recognize the successes of the team members.

Team members will appreciate the effort, and they will return to the project with greater determination to meet the next milestone.

This stage of project management is critical to the ultimate outcome of the project. The project manager plays an enormous role in this phase, and it is imperative that he or she remains organized.

Maintaining the project portfolio, watching the budget, quality communication, and team meetings, and effective time management are critical project management tools that will ensure that the project moves toward successful completion.

Read Also: 10 Key Strengths of a Project Manager

5. Project Closure

The fifth and final step in managing a project is the completion and final meeting with the team. The project manager will direct the meeting and discuss the important points about the project.

Together, the project manager and the project team will evaluate what went well, what went wrong, and how it could be improved in the future.

This step is essential because it will lead to improved efficiency on future projects. In addition, it is an opportunity to acknowledge team members who went above their obligations.

By recognizing the achievements of the team and its members, the project manager will generate enthusiasm for future projects.

Managing a project from start to finish is an enormous undertaking, but the rewards that come with it are worth the effort. Project managers can simplify their tasks and make the process less overwhelming by dividing the project into five stages and staying organized throughout.

As with anything, the organization of the entire project from the time tables to the budget to the roles of team members and their responsibilities will dictate the success of the project.

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