What is a project anyway?
A project is something that needs to be done, whether its building an aircraft, a software application or moving offices, these jobs can vary in size dramatically but the one thing that is consistent for projects is that they all have a defined start, middle and end.
Typically a project contains a set of interrelated activities usually involving a number of teams all working together to produce the outcome.
Irrespective of what you’re in charge of delivering you will go through the same phases in the lifecycle of a project, which are (if you are using the Project Management Institute’s lifecycle – remember IPECC!):
Each of these stages has its own set of activities, tools and objectives. The project manager will aim to meet and utilise these in each stage to ensure the successful completion of the phases.
Even though the phases are distinct there are activities and tasks that overlap and are repeated iteratively in order to further refine the output. For example, ballpark costs and schedules may be estimated in the initiate phase but will continue to be further iterated through the phases i.e +/- 50%, +/- 30% until a solid estimate is achieved at the end of the planning phase. These estimates will may then be locked into a business case which once approved allows the project to move into the execution (i.e. delivery phase).
A further point to note is that Communications, Quality and Risk activities also occur throughout the phases of the project.