What is Project Management and What Are the Five Phases in Project Management?

Introduction to Project Management

Project management is not a new phenomenon. It has been used for centuries wherever a group of people have a shared goal to achieve together - from strategy in wars to early civilisations planning giant historical constructions to the first time people came together to build organisations or collectives.

Here’s an infographic charting a brief history of project management!

In this post we’ll be taking you through the five phases in project management. If you are new to project management, don’t worry! We’ll start with the basics here.

What is project management?

Project management is a set of processes used with the shared aim to deliver a specific end-product or service. It includes the initiation, planning and control of these sets of processes to deliver the desired end result which could be a physical product, it could be a service, or it could be a new set of business processes.

"At its most fundamental, project management is about people getting things done."

- Dr Martin Barnes, Association of Project Management President 2003-2012

How does it differ from day-to-day management? What distinguishes project management from standard operations and management is that a project has an agreed clear, final deliverable and is completed within an agreed set timeline. A project is temporary. It has a defined scope, timeline and specified end date and time. A project is unique. It differs from any ongoing, existing operations but rather consists of specific operations that take place in a set timeframe to reach specific goals.

Day-to-day operations and traditional management, on the other hand, are both ongoing processes without any defined deliverables or set timeframes to be completed within.

What is needed to create a successful project?

Often project management involves multiple stakeholders, tasks and dependencies where a Project Manager is assigned to lead the project and to hold everyone accountable to deliver the tasks that will achieve the agreed project goals.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to a successful project:

- Good, clear and honest communication between all project team members, stakeholders, and anyone involved in the project including external or third-party members who are contributing to the same project.

- Strong people management of everyone who is involved is also key. The project manager is responsible for managing all individuals who are working on the project as well as the tasks and risks involved. This includes, but is not limited to, keeping everyone motivated, ensuring everyone is aligned, holding everyone accountable to their project responsibilities and delivering constructive feedback wherever is needed.

- Ongoing monitoring as the project starts and progresses to ensure the project is on track and achieving the desired agreed outcomes.

- Project control, because we should always expect the unexpected. All projects will encounter unexpected changes, hurdles and blocks along the way. It us up to the Project Manager to maintain control over projects when problems arise to manage the risks and adjust the plans as needed to keep the project heading towards the agreed end-goal.

The combination of all these above factors will contribute to successful project outcomes. This means project managers need a wide range of skills to meet and deliver these various project demands.

What are the five project management phases?

According to PMI’s A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), “Project management, then, is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements” where Project Management processes fall into five phases:

1. Initiating

2. Planning

3. Executing

4. Monitoring and Controlling

5. Closing

For those of you who new to the profession, we’ll now take a closer look at each of these Project Management phases.


Before you can start planning or executing a project you need to initiate the project by showing there is a need to execute the project by presenting a business case and a feasibility study. Both are used to present the need and to prove that there will be a return on investment for your organisation.


Your project is now approved! As the project manager, you can now begin planning out the project schedule, mapping out its required tasks and securing the resources and tools that are needed to deliver your project. A scope of work is usually produced together with any necessary project contracts to ensure everyone is clear on the agreed outcomes and to ensure there is no misalignment between any project stakeholders before the project begins.


With a project plan, team, resources and tools all in place, it is now time to implement your plans. Your project delivery should be based on the agreed scope of work to deliver the project. Everyone assigned to carry out project tasks will deliver their task based on information provided from the planning stage – this will include full details of what each task involves, what dependencies there are, what timescales to work within, what criteria will deem a task completed.


This phase happens during the Executing phase. As already mentioned, all projects can (and will!) face unexpected hurdles and issues as they progress. By monitoring the progress and keeping control when problems arise, it is up to the project manager to redirect the project and everyone involved if the project has gone off-course


At the end of the project there is one final phase even after the outcomes have been delivered. To wrap up the project in the Closing phase, the end-product is formally approved as completed. Only then can the project be formally closed. A final review is usually held to review all the successes and the mistakes of the project so that learnings are recorded to be taken forward to future projects. It is worthwhile to record specific project processes so that these plans can be repeated, rather than future teams having to start from scratch, if similar projects need to be executed again in future.

There is a variety of skills that a project manager needs to juggle the multiple moving parts of any project. A good project manager needs to be very organised, detail oriented, a strong communicator and able to manage several overlapping dependencies at the same time. We’ll dive more into what makes a good project manager and successful project management in future posts. Check back here at for future updates.

Do you need a project/ program manager to take care of the daily project management tasks instead of you and you could focus on your business?

Do you want to empower your team’s communication, self-organization and collaboration in order to deliver the best possible solution?

Do you want to understand how a great project manager can save time and budget for you?

Do you need help with program planning?

If you have at least one YES, book your free consultation today and let’s see how we can deliver better value together at a faster rate.


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