Mismanaging a project is a great way to lose money and waste time.
A comprehensive project management process can guide your team and keep them productive.
While the term is a bit of a mouthful, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. It’s all about systemizing how you create a battle plan for any new project.
In this article, we’ll show you, step-by-step, how to create a project management process that works.
What are the 5 project management processes?
According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (the awkward acronym PMBOK), all project management processes fall under an umbrella of 5 main phases or process groups.
We know it sounds a bit dry, but it’s a helpful framework for getting a high-level view of all processes, so let’s run through it…
#1. Project initiation
In a traditional framework like PMBOK, this all happens before you commit to a new project. A team will develop a project charter, pitch it to management, and get it approved.
This all has to happen before entering a stage of detailed project planning.
If you let it drag out, this project phase can take weeks. So many startups whittle it down to a single meeting instead, quickly outlining and evaluating whether to pursue a project.
#2. Project planning
When you’re planning your project, you need to go deep and get a realistic view of the scope and your timeline.
Why bother, you ask?
The alternative is… not great:
New companies fail to meet project goals almost half of the time, and 54% of their projects exceed the budget.
Not to mention that many projects fail outright. Better planning can help you avoid failure and complete projects on time and within budget.
Before executing a project, be sure you’ve considered all relevant factors, including:
- Project team
If you’re working on a smaller project with more flexible deliverables, you don’t need to spend as much time here. For example, a more agile approach is suitable for a new landing page or app version.
#3. Project execution
Planning is important, but it doesn’t matter if you slip up in the execution phase.
According to KPMG and IPMA, only 19% of organizations deliver successful projects most of the time.Execution is key. Assign ownership of tasks and small goals to ensure your team stays the course. Create a culture of productivity with daily progress meetings.
#4. Project monitoring
Monitoring progress and bottlenecks is a great way to catch anything you might have missed in the planning phase.
But you need a better way to track progress than just major milestones like project deliverables.
The answer is a workflow where you track tasks and sub-items in real time. It’ll give your managers a much better overview of the project.
For physical products or events with expenses and hard deadlines, a WBS board might be a good idea:
#5. Analysis and closure
After you’ve finished the project, you need to evaluate the overall performance.
- Did you follow the project management plan to a tee?
- Did you meet the deadlines? Did you finish within the specified budget?
You should also dial in on individual project team members and their contributions.
Of course, the PMBOK framework isn’t the only way to manage projects in 2022. You have other options, like Agile, Kanban, and more.
PMBOK vs. Agile project management process flow chart
Agile and PMBOK are two completely different sides of the project management spectrum.
We could go on and on about the differences, but we’d need to write a second blog post. Luckily, a picture is worth a thousand words.
Comparing the methods through a flow chart will help you get a better feel for the key differences between the two models:
As you can see, the Agile approach is all about the feedback loop and adapting on the fly. There’s less focus on top down planning, and fewer potential bottlenecks — no waiting on managers to sign off on things.
PMBOK is all about quality control and slowly, securely, taking each step forward. This makes sense for physical consumer products or large scale B2B companies. You don’t want to get sued, after all.
Getting started: 4 foundational project management process steps
Don’t just jump into a framework without a second thought.
Making this choice means committing to a lengthy process. And changing that process down the line can be complicated, as it requires fundamentally changing the way your business works.
You need to consider project-model fit before going all in on PMBOK, Lean, or Agile.
Here are a few steps to help you make the right choice:
#1. Evaluate the scope of the project
Are you adding a couple of features, or developing a completely new product?
Where would your project fall on the McKinsey’s 3 horizon model?
- Horizon 1: A smaller scope project, like fixing bugs on an existing product
- Horizon 2: Adding new features to existing products
- Horizon 3: Developing a completely new product from scratch
The scope will determine if you need to hire new staff or request additional funds from your CFO.
#2. Figure out the needs of your stakeholders (clients and users)
Use stakeholder analysis to figure out which customers should care most about the upcoming project.
Who will the new features, app, or product deliver the most value to?
Invite them to key planning meetings and interview them about their needs and goals.
Instead of messing around with spreadsheets, you can use monday.com’s stakeholder register template:
#3. Choose a methodology that matches goals and scope
Unfortunately, we can’t tell you which framework will work best for your project. There’s no one-size-fits-all option.
Choose the project management methodology that best lines up with the scope and goals of your project.
If you’re developing a new product and need to establish a team, hire new staff, and spend a large amount of money, following the PMBOK model might make sense.
If you’re working closely with customers to improve an existing product with a single team, you want something faster and more dynamic.
After all, you don’t want to meticulously plan process group by process group for a few bug fixes.
#4. Create your project plan
Once you’ve decided how to plan and execute the project, it’s time to start planning.
If you’ve chosen a traditional method, you need to develop a step-by-step work plan.
- Define deliverables
- Divide each deliverable into the necessary tasks
- Estimate a timeline
- Figure out dependencies and assign priorities accordingly
- Assign responsibilities and task ownership to boost productivity
Monday’s work plan template can help you out here:
With an Agile methodology, your plan may only extend to immediate goals and features listed in a specific Sprint backlog.
Other tasks are typically relegated to the general product backlog. You then use the general backlog to plan other Sprints, continuing the project lifecycle.
Laying the foundations for project management process success
Jumping into project management without due process can easily backfire. You might create a roadmap that actually slows your team down, rather than guides it forward.
Even if you do it right, following through is the real challenge. Our smart features make it easy to stay on track. You can easily assign ownership, set and adjust deadlines, and create unique color codes for task priority.
We help you get more done. It’s that simple. And regardless of which PM framework you choose, we’ve got a template for that. For example, the high-level project plan works perfectly with a traditional waterfall approach.