Organizational work is made up of two elements: operations and projects. Operations are ongoing and repetitive; projects are unique and temporary. For instance, if you're in the software development field, promotion of your services to prospective clients is an operation, but the development of a software program for a client is a project. Thus a project is a specific, structured activity with clear goals and time frame for completion. The project leader ensures that the project meets all of its requirements and is delivered on time. This is possible by understanding the different stages of project development and applying relevant skills at each stage.
The Initial Stage
The first step is to have complete clarity about the purpose of the project in consultation with the project sponsor or end user. You may undertake a feasibility study, and the project leader may offer input to optimize the project's objectives. With project purpose clearly defined, the project leader plans the overall strategy by preparing a detailed work breakdown structure, which lays down the details of the work plan, the budget, financial controls and selection of the project management team. This is shared with the project sponsor for approval.
Project Specification Stage
This involves understanding the project specifications of the clients. This essentially refers to the requirements that the end users want the project to meet. Based on the project specifications or requirements, it's possible to have a fair estimate of the budget and the time required for project completion. If this differs significantly from the initial stage, it's best to schedule further consultations with the client before initiating the project.
With requisite approvals in place, the project can move to the design stage. This is the stage where the client's specifications are translated into deliverables in the project. The project design must ensure that the project meets all specifications. It's recommended to share the project design with the end user, who may agree with it or recommend changes. It's easier to make changes at this stage. Making changes at the end escalates the project costs.
The Build Stage
Actual building of the project occurs at this stage. It's essential that the project proceeds smoothly at this stage to keep costs within budget. The build stage proceeds without difficulty if all of the previous stages have been adhered to strictly. A single detail missed in the design can bring the project to a standstill. However, you get the best results if you consider the project specifications in your approved project design and have the right personnel in the team. The project leader also plays an important in motivating the team to complete the project on time.
The project is put into operational mode. After making any minor modifications or changes that may be required at this stage, the end user takes ownership of the project. The final responsibility of the project manager is to submit a post-implementation report to the project sponsor. This serves as a valuable tool for any future changes or improvements in the project.