Project Management Steps - The First Step to Starting Your Project the Right Way

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As a part of our management training classes, Managers and Supervisors will learn how to:

  • Minimize the chance of miscommunication by understanding what people are really saying, and why
  • Deal with difficult people, manage tense situations, and resolve conflict
  • Make use of proven active listening skills to improve your ability to gain helpful information
  • Be able to facilitate, guide, and close discussions in one-on-one or group settings
  • Improve understanding and communication by giving and receiving good feedback
  • Use ideas submitted by a member of the team without causing other members to be defensive
  • Develop a comprehensive team building strategy that improves productivity of the whole team
  • Emphasize the value of working toward common goals without devaluing individual accomplishment
  • Define and set up a method to track staff activities
  • Be able to manage time and work assignments effectively
  • Conduct team meetings that capture and hold the audience’s attention
  • Interview and hire the right person for the right job
  • Save time and work more effectively through the use of a clear time management plan
  • Understand and comply with proper hiring and managing requirements
  • Communicate effectively with both superiors, peers and subordinates
  • Become effective coaches for their work team
  • Conduct accurate and difficult performance appraisals


It is important to have basic project management knowledge before getting started. For many us, we became project managers accidentally. Whether your project succeeds or fails, however, will be no accident. Successful project managers don't need to know everything, but they know enough to get started and learn as they go. In its essence, project management is preparing, executing, and closing. By the end of this article, you will have the basic foundation on the project management steps.

The first step in project management is preparing. When it comes to preparing, your focus should be on answering the basic questions. Writing a project charter is a great way to get started. The reason is because it answers the important question: why are you doing this project? A project with a weak purpose will go no where. In addition to giving the project a reason, it will also say what are the expected benefits. The most common benefits are making more money, saving money, and saving time (by making things more efficient).

Another project management tool to help you in preparing is to speak with the people who are affected by the project. These people are referred to as the stakeholders. Getting their feedback will help you focus on what's important. This is commonly known as the scope. It is equally important to write down both what will and will not be achieved. You want to make sure you know what the stakeholders are expecting.

The next component of preparing project management involves writing the project plan. This establishes the ground rules. The plan will detail what will be delivered and when, who is doing what, and how will things be done. For example, the communications section will let everyone know when and where they can find status updates. Setting budget and deadlines will give you a target. Remember, a project is temporary. Therefore, every project has an ending and finite resources.

The project management plan doesn't need to be perfect, because it will change throughout the project. More important is that you have a plan. Once you are done preparing, it's time to execute.

Executing is where the rubber meets the road. All the work done in the preparing step is used to guide you. The key thing to remember is to record everything. Following is a checklist of what should be recorded daily:

  • Write down how the project is progressing.
  • Review the work completed by the project team and make notes of any quality issues.
  • If there is a problem, write it to a problem log.
  • When new risks arise, write those down as soon as you think of it.
  • At the end of the day, record anything you learned.

The last point may seem trivial, but it will make your life easier in the closing step.

In addition to logging information, you will also conduct meetings. These are essential and an effective way to follow up with everyone and to get things done. Notably, you'll get information from your team and make sure everything is on track. If not, this is when you make adjustments to your earlier forecasts.

Depending on the complexity of the project, the executing step may be longer or shorter than the preparing step. You will know the executing step is over once you present the final deliverable mentioned in the plan. That does not mean the end, however. The last step is the closing step.

Closing is a controlled way to end a project. Specifically, this is where you find out if you did a good job with project management. You will look back at the project plan and see if the objectives were met. Was everything in-scope completed? Just as important is to ask the stakeholders if they feel the project was a success, and why or why not? You will also provide a lessons learned report. What did you feel went well? What could you do to make things better? What steps can be combined or omitted? If you've kept a daily lessons learned log, this step will simply be compiling everything you have already written into a report.

You now know the basic project management steps. They are preparing, executing, and closing. While project management is not easy, you have the basic foundation. The best way to learn how to manage a project is to get out there and start managing projects. Don't forget to have fun along the way. If you aren't having any fun, it isn't worth doing.

Howard James:

Subject: Project Management

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