The three phases of a project and the responsibilities of project managers

Project Management can be seen to contain three distinct phases: Planning, Scheduling and Controlling. During the Planning phase, the requirements of the project are properly understood. The Project Manager (PM) fits the new project within the broader Project Organization, so that existing projects continue to run smoothly. The PM also interacts with the clientele and other stakeholders so that the scope of the project is fixed. It is the responsibility of the PM to temporarily assign members to the project, as well as to co-ordinate “activities with other departments and to report directly to top management.” (from the text, p.49) During the planning phase, the PM agrees to take up an array of responsibilities, including “making sure that all necessary activities are finished in proper sequence and on time; the project comes in within budget; the project meets its quality goals; and the people assigned to the project receive the motivation, direction, and information needed to do their jobs”. (from the text, p.49) The Project Manager will have to consider the pros and cons of different features and options and will have to decide to retain some while discarding others. Once the design is approved, detailed planning begins. At this stage, “business benefits, project objectives, requirements, governance, scope and project management methodology are all agreed upon”.(www.businessperform.com, 2011) The PM also sorts out common ethical issues faced by project teams at this stage, and prepares the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS).

During the Scheduling phase, sequences and time allotment are given to all project activities. The PM decides the optimal time allocation for each activity/task and will accordingly delegate people and resources towards its execution. Managers also “chart separate schedules for personnel needs by type of skill (management, engineering, or pouring concrete, for example)”. (text, p.51) Gantt charts are a useful tool in scheduling project activities. But Scheduling is only as good as execution of project tasks. It is the responsibility of the PM to ensure that the designs and plans laid out on paper are turned into action. The PM should also co-ordinate, monitor and keep track of all the modules in the project. This is usually best accomplished with the help of a Project Management software, which can be customized to particular project needs. This phase is resource-intensive, as all available resources are put to use by the PM. The challenges faced by the PM at this stage include prudent allocation of limited available resources and prioritization of tasks and objectives.

The final phase in Project Management is Monitoring/Controlling phase, where sequential tasks in the project plan are executed on time so that the project can move toward completion. In other words, since implementation of a project seldom follows a linear flow structure, it would be necessary to cascade tasks in such as way that there is a smooth transition from the blue-print to project execution. The responsibility of PM at this phase include “close monitoring of resources, costs, quality, and budgets”. (text, p.52) A keyword during this phase is ‘iteration’ between planning and execution of activities in order to streamline or cascade individual tasks into an optimal sequence. Also, all the documentation work pertaining to the project is carried out. End-of-project reports are generated during this phase, which records the successes and flaws in the finished project. Such an honest assessment will come handy later when any maintenance issues crop up.

Works Cited:

Deanna Reynolds, Phases of Project Management, retrieved from http://www.brighthub.com/office/project-management/articles/1674.aspx, on 17th March, 2011.

Project Phases, retrieved from <http://www.businessperform.com/project-management/project_phases.html> on 17th March, 2011