The 4 Phases of Project Management – and How Process Automation Can Help

Managing a project can involve multiple moving parts – budgets, timelines, resources, targets and measures are all like spinning plates, constantly demanding time and attention. 

Regardless of the desired outcome, projects will require planning, organizing, lateral thinking, team collaboration, and much more. Managing the demands of a project can require a great deal of administrative work and creates a heavy workload that can be a challenge.

To optimize their time, project managers are frequently looking for ways to improve the procedures they follow.

Between mapping and managing workflows, improving worker efficiencies, and tracking budgets, resources, and timelines, project managers must juggle more processes than ever to keep their teams working optimally and projects moving smoothly forward.

Thankfully, instead of manually mapping and performing processes, project managers are able to capture the processes involved in their projects and get a visual of what the processes look like, end-to-end. Over time they can also build automated tasks within their workflows to reduce repetitive administrative work and reduce the potential for errors.

No-code workflow tools remove the headache from the project management process, from initiation to project closure. Here’s how process management and automation can support PMs through all the phases of project management.

1.   Initiation and planning

To begin outlining a project, the scope, deliverables, and stakeholders must be identified. When the project is approved, a thorough plan is then created to fully visualize how the process will run, with associated goals and jobs.

Project plans require a great deal of organization. Some of the processes include:

  • Establishing a timeframe and a budget
  • Identifying costs, materials and people resources
  • Providing training
  • Identifying risks, roadblocks and potential bottlenecks

The effective management of processes can help project managers get organized in five ways:

  • By visually capturing their processes and attaching supporting documentation, project managers can make the most accurate recent information available in one place for everyone to access.
  • Project managers and their resources can get a visual of existing processes related to the new project, thereby getting an overview of who and what will be impacted by any changes.
  • By capturing new processes related to the project, everyone in the organization will be kept in the loop, with notifications on their dashboard alerting them of any action they need to take.
  • Risks related to the project can be managed and monitored in the process management platform, giving execs the confidence that potential threats are being tracked.
  • Those team members who are new to the organization or aren’t sure about what is expected of them can refer to the relevant processes for step-by-step information that they can access in as much detail as they require.

Automation goals: When processes are automated, they can then be easily tracked, further minimizing risk. And instead of approval processes slowing down your workflow, simultaneous digital approvals can be requested within a process to save time and avoid bottlenecking.

2.  Execution

Once the project has begun, it’s the project manager’s job to oversee everything. Execution processes for a project manager will typically include:

  • Organizing workflows and tasks
  • Tracking resources
  • Communicating progress to stakeholders
  • Arranging regular meetings with stakeholders and workers
  • Problem solving if any budgetary or resource issues are encountered

To make sure that all aspects of the project are visible, project managers can share their data-driven projections about how the project is progressing, within the relevant process maps.

Real-time reporting and automatically generated reports can also be stored within the tool, giving project managers the assurance that teams are viewing the most recent version of the relevant reports.

Automation goals: When creating contracts or invoices, document generation will allow project managers to quickly generate consistently compliant documents and records. To ensure that communications and data reporting don’t slow down when a team member is in the field or working remotely, automated forms will allow workers to quickly and accurately submit information.

3.  Monitoring and control

This stage runs alongside execution and oversees the performance of the project.

To ensure that a project is running smoothly, project managers will:

  • Track the project budget, KPIs and SLAs
  • Reallocate resources
  • Monitor tasks to prevent downtime
  • Track high-quality deliverables
  • Monitor project performance

During this phase of the project, the project manager may need to make changes in order to adapt to new developments as they happen.

When processes are updated and corresponding documents are centrally stored within a process management platform, execs have the confidence that everyone in the organization is being kept up-to-date during this time of transition.

Project managers can also stay current with change suggestions from people as teams review existing process and recommend improvements.

This way, everyone across the organization is an active participant in ensuring the success of the project.

Automation goals: By integrating automatic reporting in the monitoring and control phase, project managers can be alerted to any fluctuations in performance quickly enough to reallocate resources in good time. Tracking the performance of both the project and the individual resources makes benchmarking project progress simpler, eliminating the need to repeatedly enter data into spreadsheets so project managers can put more of their time into project oversight.

4.  Project closure

When a project comes to an end, the project manager and their team will typically assess whether it was a success. Did it achieve the goals agreed upon? Were the deliverables of a high standard? Can the project be considered finished?

But project management should also be about enduring value – leading organizations to better outcomes that continue to deliver value, years after project completion.

It is true that analytics are key for project managers to present to stakeholders and indicate overall success post-project.

To close a project, the project manager will:

  • Follow steps like communicating with stakeholders about the closing status of the project
  • Examine the success of the project in relation to the scope that was agreed
  • Analyze team performance
  • Evaluate how effectively resources were used
  • Reallocate any unused budget or resources
  • Providing data and insights about the project to relevant parties

Analytics are key for managers to present to stakeholders and indicate overall success post-project. Operational metrics will give a thorough overview of how successful the project was in terms of productivity, budget, and efficiency—and these insights can be used to improve and optimize future projects.

However, truly successful projects should effect lasting, positive change, instead of letting teams slowly but surely revert back to the old way of doing things. By creating a culture of continuous improvement and using an intuitive process management tool, teams can digest the new way of operating in a format that is easy to use, review and edit.

Automation goals: Operational metrics will give a thorough overview of how successful the project was in terms of productivity, budget and efficiency—and these insights can be used to improve and optimize future projects. Project managers can easily create reports and close workflows before going on to their next project, knowing decisions are informed by quality data.

Nintex helps manage, automate, and optimize your processes

Today, project managers have options available to them if they want to improve every stage of their project management process, while reducing the administrative burden that comes with it.

Process mapping can help get teams on the same page while providing a blueprint for the way forward. And with process automation, project managers can accurately and efficiently execute on tasks that tend to be menial, repetitive, and time-consuming.

Projects are implemented to improve organizations and position them for increased success. When businesses engage their people in their improvement efforts and include them on the journey, the change can be rewarding, and result in long-lasting benefits.

 

Find out more about how Nintex Promapp, as an integral part of the Nintex Platform, can help take the headache out of managing your projects. Visit https://www.promapp.com/, or contact us today. 

 

Laetitia Smith

Laetitia Smith is part of the corporate marketing team at Nintex. In her role as Content Marketing Manager for Nintex Promapp, she manages and writes website, blog, and social media content. She loves collaborating with customers to share their success stories as they manage, automate, and optimize their business with their technology.