With competition becoming more intense for development companies, project management is becoming a more integral part of every project. It’s no longer limited to the actual creation of a new project. Now, it’s about planning, communicating, collaborating and analyzing. With so many moving parts, it’s difficult to understand all of the important phases of project management.
This guide will cover all the phases of project management so you can understand how they apply to your projects in DevOps. Even if you don’t have a background in project management, you’ll be a pro in no time.
Defining Project Management
First, we need to articulate exactly what project management is. It’s the discipline of initiating, planning and executing the work of a team to achieve specific goals within a time frame. It involves a lot of interteam collaboration, and it isn’t any single activity.
Project management experts draw knowledge from areas including human resources, communications, risk management and even accounting. That being said, there are a lot of moving parts that can make project management tricky, particularly with large projects or growing teams. Knowing all of the phases of a project process makes it possible to navigate these areas effectively.
A project process is any unique action that represents the entire project internal process within DevOps. This is usually decided by the project manager. It might include instructions, procedures, plans or organizational software.
Understanding the Phases of Project Management
When you’re talking about the project life cycle, you need to understand the project management phases. Throughout the project life cycle, you should be able to define clear goals. These will include a combination of the following:
- What will be accomplished?
- How will you measure what has been accomplished?
- Who will work on the project?
- How will you monitor progress?
Having these questions above in mind will direct the project along its life cycle. Without any clear initiative or direction, you can’t expect team members to know where to go with their tasks. That’s why clear goals are key in the world of DevOps, where every task matters.
Now that you know the importance of clear goal setting, it’s time to finally define the phases of project management. There are five in total, and they are:
- Performance monitoring
Phase 1: Initiation
This is the beginning of the project. In this phase, you’ll want to define your goals, what the project is exactly, and how it fits into your company goals. One of the biggest pitfalls in the world of development is choosing to start a new project for technology’s sake. While there’s always something to be gained in innovation, avoid falling for shiny-object syndrome. Just because you have new technology doesn’t mean it makes sense as part of your bigger business strategy.
To make sure you’re choosing the right project for your team, ask the following questions in this phase:
- Why are you choosing this project now?
- Is this project realistic?
- What does the end result look like?
From there, you’ll need to get approval for the project from higher-ups. This might take some time, so be sure to articulate your goals clearly at this stage so you don’t waste energy. Finally, you or your project manager will create a project initiation document (PID), which is a formal outline of the purpose and requirements of a new project.
It’s smart to include developers across teams in these initial meetings to ensure they can give guidance about the technical challenges of a new project. Remember, collaboration is key at every stage.
Phase 2: Planning
Now that you’ve gotten the green light, it’s time to create a plan of action. This will involve goal setting and job responsibilities for all team members of all levels. Don’t forget about the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting process to make sure you’re creating goals that are realistic. Remember, smart goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound by a deadline.
This is the most vital stage of project management. It’s when you’ll put pen to paper and work out any kinks. Poor planning will reflect itself in every stage after, so take the time to work with teams to decide the best plan of action. Limit your deadlines for every task to 10 days or les to ensure you don’t let obstacles take away from your final product.
Phase 3: Execution
The time for planning is over and now it’s time to get down to business. This is exciting because you’ll see your project start to shape itself. Your programmers are busy coding, designers are building graphics and managers are creating progress reports.
Don’t forget to update your higher-ups during this process, even with small changes. Regular updates are necessary to make sure everything is progressing according to schedule. Conduct weekly meetings to make sure everyone knows how the entire team is progressing as well as their own next steps. A project management software is valuable at this stage.
Phase 4: Project Performance
Now that the project is completed, it’s time to reflect on your success. Did everything align with your original goals? Did you meet your deadlines? Think about your objectives, your deliverables, your cost,and the performance of the project. How did all of these things measure up?
You’ll base your future project plans on the success of your analysis at this stage. Even though the project is officially done, that doesn’t mean there isn’t still more to learn. Also, don’t forget about preparing maintenance for your software going forward. You might need a program like Amazon CloudWatch – monitoring and logging service to continue to learn about the success of your project into the future.
Phase 5: Closure
Your project is completed and your analysis is coming to a close. It’s time to follow-up on any final pieces and close the door on your project for good. This is also known as the post-mortem phase because it’s when you’ll decide your key takeaways and stop progressing.
Project managers will meet together to decide key players, project performance, and deadline analysis. How can you learn from the events of the past few days or weeks to grow during your next project? Don’t overlook this stage. It’s important to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. If something didn’t work out the way it was planning, talk about it.
Finally, host a team meeting to talk about how the project went as a group. You might have a different perspective than those under you, and it’s important that everyone feels heard. Take team member feedback seriously so you can learn from it for next time.
Manage Projects Successfully
In the world of DevOps, project management plays a lead role. Don’t overlook any stage in the process as not being necessary. It’s important to have a well-rounded, thoughtful approach to leadership. There is no perfect way to lead a group in big projects, but you can use every phrase to carefully tackle new challenges and grow your team strengths.
When you practice these stages above, they’ll come naturally. You’ll notice each stage leading gently into the next, and that’s how you make a business that’s ready for anything. Every project manager will experience some level of failure, but learn how to roll with the punches and keep moving forward.