Now that we know about the roles of a project manager, it’s time to set up the major phases of any project. There are four basic stages and different agendas to be accomplished within each.

If you have been called to manage a project, there are four stages that you need to know:

  • Define the project
  • Plan the project
  • Run the project
  • Complete the project


Let’s elaborate on each one for a better understanding.

Define the Project

The majority of your time will be spent in the first two stages. Taking the time to hash out the details that could cause issues later can help prevent them. Some project managers fly “by the seat of their pants”. They face problems when they arise. This method of managing doesn’t work because it fails to take into account how the project will be affected as a whole by unplanned circumstances. While every situation can’t be predicted, they can be anticipated depending on previous experience, similar client projects and planning know-how.

Two steps to accurately define your project include:

  • Creating a vision – Encompasses what you want to see as the end result
  • Setting Objectives – Use STAR (Specific, Tangible, Attainable, Relevant)


Plan the Project

This is the stage where you can write down everything that needs to be accomplished in light of the overall vision and the objectives that you created. Once you have decided what steps need to be taken to complete the project, assign to each:

  • A milestone (timeframe for completion)
  • Resources (how many people are needed to accomplish each objective for the project)
  • Performance (what tasks specifically need to accomplished by each person)


During the planning phase, it is a good best practice to build in extra time for each milestone. That time is your built-in safety net in case anything goes wrong that might lead to delays.

Run the Project

It may sound like the time to put things on autopilot but that is the furthest thing from the truth. Now is the time to keep your team motivated. Working with others can be stressful – different personalities and work styles. Staying available and in close contact with your team allows you to notice teammates who are veering off course as well as those that could pose potential conflict. Monitor client needs, client changes, team work quality and quantity, as well as adjustments that need to be made.

Complete the Project

When a project is done, that is not the end. Provide your clients with the necessary resources to implement what you have delivered. Ask for evaluation of the project by the client, as well as taking stock of your team and their performance.

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