There are generally five accepted phases for managing a project: initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. These phases dictate the rough order in which a project is undertaken, with initiation as the first step before the project can be properly planned out. The initiation phase can be a tough phase to move out of as it requires you and your stakeholders to define the problem you are trying to solve, come up with a specific idea to focus your project around, and settle on a goal for the project. It’s crucial to figure out these details before starting your project; if you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish, then you don’t have a basis for your project. Because of this, you might start asking yourself: when is it time to move out of the initiating phase?
The key to success for any project is to put the effort into the early project ideation and planning. It might seem counterintuitive that the bulk of your project work might not happen in the executing or monitoring and controlling phase, but what’s crucial to a project going smoothly is having a well-defined vision of what the outcome is supposed to be. In the initiating phase, you must work out the requirements and constraints that bound your project and commit to them. The more fleshed out these are, the easier it will be for the project team to plan out the work and provide estimates on timelines. Building out the requirements and acceptance criteria also makes execution smoother as there will be fewer questions and less confusion when it comes down to the team actually doing the work. By doing the bulk of the work up front, this sets up the rest of the project work to follow naturally and ease the transition between phases.
Another important aspect to consider when managing projects is that plans are never set in stone. Change is inevitable, despite everyone’s best efforts to control it. Unexpected roadblocks crop up and technical limitations get realized too late; this doesn’t mean that all of the planning and building out of requirements is all pointless work, though. Part of the planning of a project is thinking ahead about how changes and risks can be mitigated. It seems natural to think that given how drastically projects can change, it’s not worth spending time planning out a project. In fact, the opposite is true; fleshing out the project idea can help you find out faster if you need to change gears, and details that come out of planning can often be applied as constraints or assumptions even when goals change. Fluidity and flexibility are key in keeping a project moving even when plans go awry.
At the heart of helping you manage the chaos of a project is picking good software. You need software that can help you wrangle your project’s requirements and plans throughout the process, even when these details change. Sometimes there isn’t a clean distinction between the beginnings and ends of project phases, and that is something your software should be able to handle. OneDesk offers a flexibility that allows you to move easily between project phases and pivot when requirements change. Even if the project needs change drastically, OneDesk makes it easy for you to scrap what you need to drop, keep the good things, and start fresh.
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