Stages of Project Management

Every project goes through stages between its conception and its completion. What the stages of project management are, though, is open to interpretation. But have no fear. We here at PMOTalk have the definitive guide to knowing exactly what those stages are, with strategies galore to help you.

Week One: The “Blissful Honeymoon” Stage

The project has been launched, to great fanfare. People are probably excited here. There are plenty of optimistic projections, people are bursting with creativity and ideas, and this thing just can’t go wrong. The team is riding on a high. Kickoff meeting? You positively knocked ’em dead, there. The entire project plan is already done, the chart looks great, and the tasks are assigned. The preliminary work is already being started. Nothing can go wrong!

Weeks Two through Four: The “Hang On A Minute” Stage

So remember week one? It might be hard to. It turns out it might have been a dream, anyways. This is the first drop on the roller coaster of the stages of project management. It could easily be called the “hope you have a parachute” stage. Those projections that seemed so simple? They’re not. Turns out the vendor was a little deceptive, there. The code that was supposed to only need three days might actually need three months. The chart is a total mess. There’s a storm of delays brewing, the team is starting to feel under siege, and you are slowly starting to wonder if this is even possible anymore.

First Quarter: The “OK, We’re Getting Something Done” Stage

The rest of the first quarter, arrives with some slow but certain victories. You’ve fixed the project plan. The team is settled in. Some intense pep talks and late night strategy sessions paid off dividends, and now with a dose of healthy realism and a side order of humble pie, the work begins in earnest. That pesky vendor with the unrealistic promises has been replaced. The client has been mollified, and even has a grudging respect for your seemingly miraculous saving of the project…even if they are still riding you hard about getting to delivery at a still-too-optimistic date.

Second Quarter: The “Midseason Cliffhanger Plot Twist” Stage

Just when everything seems to be on track, finally, comes the inevitable soap opera wrench-in-the-works. The quarterly milestone is literally right there, and suddenly, boom. Something happens. Something not even covered by the risk management plan. All that painstaking work you just put in, as a team, and the momentum you’ve been slowly building towards – it’s gone. Sifting through the wreckage, with bellows coming from the client side, you’re happy to find anything at all that can serve as a new foundation stone, or even just a pivot base. How will you work miracles a second time?

Third Quarter: The “You Can’t Believe It Seemed So Hard” Stage

Believe it or not, the previous quarter seems like a gift. Thanks to what seemed to be a disaster, you actually were able to cut out so much dead weight from the project plan, really streamline what you’re doing, and even shave time off the delivery date. The team is working together, the small victories are flowing faster and faster. It STILL seems to good to be true! Things are looking up. The delivery date is in sight. A few hurdles you can see in the near future, but the project is in the home stretch. You’ve moved into more of a monitoring phase, keeping everything and everyone focused on the goal.

Fourth Quarter: The “Heaven Help Me Please Just Let’s Get This Done” Stage

Of all the stages of project management, this one is the one that might turn you gray or bald. The end is in sight. The project is almost in wind down mode, that’s how close it is. There’s just one or two pesky little things that just need to be closed down and are proving to be major challenges. Your team is focused and on course – but there are some rapids in the way. Steady sailing, captain. Keep the wheel steady, the sails trimmed, and the motor gunned. You’re even too tired to wonder why you need both sails and a motor. You are hyperfocused on beating these last few speedbumps and getting to the finish line.

Project End: The “Yes! We! Did! It!” Stage

It’s over. You did it. You stand atop Everest, hands in the air, holding the trophy. The client is thrilled. Your company is ecstatic. You’ve gone through every one of the stages of project management, and emerged victorious. Your reputation as a hero now precedes you. So much of the past year seems like a blur, and you aren’t entirely certain how you did this, but hey – to the victor belongs the spoils. In this case, sadly, the spoils are a short workplace party consisting of some muffins and maybe a certificate of some sort printed on the old dot matrix printer. But they are yours. Unabashedly yours. Congratulations! Your next project is already waiting…

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