Before we begin to define the details of our project management methodology, let’s have a look at the three key parts of our project life cycle: the controlled start, middle and end of the project. When I think about my projects, one way to keep in mind what needs to be done is to know ‘when’ we are in this simple model.
The controlled start to a project includes the pre-project activities where we determine if this is a viable and worthwhile project for the business. It also covers the initiation stuff, where we do more detailed planning for both our overall project and the next stage. At the end of initiation, we should have our project scope finalized, our project plan built and be ready to get to work.
During the controlled middle of a project is where the technical work gets done, one stage or phase at a time. The project manager is using the plan to measure and monitor project performance and to control what is taking place. This is ‘Management by Walking Around’ (MBWA) where we are into everything – regular status, informal conversations, checking the health of the project, dealing with stakeholders, forecasting future performance, and dealing with issues and risks.
A controlled end to a project is when we are wrapping up a job well done. This can also take place if our project was prematurely terminated for one reason or another, hopefully a rare event. We are taking stock of achievements, reporting on the effort, ensuring objectives and acceptance criteria are met and transitioning the final product of our project into its operational life.
As we move forward and look at a building a detailed project management methodology that supports these pieces and parts of our projects, we will use this simple model to keep us on track for what we are doing and when it should be done.