A Complete Guide to Handling a Project

Handling a project from start to finish can be a cumbersome task for someone new to the field. The project manager has to be on a constant lookout to ensure that every task under the project is running smoothly. The time-tested project management processes help the manager break down the project into phases and tasks and manage it effectively and efficiently.

Project Management Processes to Handle a Project

Project Management essentially involves 5 phases −

Project Initiation

This is the first stage where you define the purpose of starting the new project and a broad-level view of the business value the project is going to deliver. A detailed analysis is carried out to check for the feasibility of the project. Finally, the project idea is presented to the stakeholders for their approval.

An important feature of this phase is the creation of a short, formal document called a project charter.

A project charter typically answers the following questions about a new project −

  • What is the goal of the project?

  • What is the scope of the project?

  • Who are the main stakeholders?

  • What are the major constraints and roadblocks?

  • What is the budget of the project?

  • Who are the team members of the project?

The importance of this phase lies in the fact that it helps onboard the stakeholders, secure key resources and avoid major roadblocks to the project.

Project Planning

It is one of the most crucial phases of project management as the success of the project boils down to how well you plan it. In this phase, the project managers decide how the project will be executed, monitored, and controlled. In other words, you finalize the What, Who, When, Where, and How’s of the project. It provides a clear roadmap to the stakeholders for successful project completion. Project managers are required to be as meticulous as they can in setting the project deliverables, allocating the resources, making project schedules, and creating any supporting plans.

Elements of Project Planning

  • Setting the scope of the plan

  • Breaking down the project into smaller components. ( Work breakdown structure)

  • Scheduling the project

  • Planning the resources required

  • Planning the budget for the project

  • Planning for the procurement of resources

  • Planning for project risk management

  • Planning for project quality management

  • Planning for effective communication between the team

Project planning is a dynamic process and needs constant tweaking until the completion of the project. The more detailed the project plan, the more it is close to reality.

Project Execution

Project execution is basically, putting your plan into action. You hold a kick-off meeting with all the key members to inform them about their roles and responsibilities and explain the timelines of the project. One might think of this phase as an easy phase, where you just have to execute whatever you planned. It is in this context that the term execution gap assumes importance.

Execution Gap

It is the mismatch between vision and reality. When the project is not going as per the plan, an execution gap arises. It can happen due to various reasons including, an over-ambitious resource allocation, setting objectives of the plan with just a surface-level thought, over-commitment by the stakeholders, unrealistic planning of the timelines, etc.

Key to Successful Project Execution

Clearly Defining Project Goals

It is important to clearly define the objectives of the project so that everyone is striving for a common goal. To ensure this, the project managers should not bank on the comprehensive project charter, for members to read it. Instead, the managers should leverage the kickoff meeting to proactively address all the concerns.

Do not be Unrealistic with the Timelines

In cross-functional projects, it is advisable to give a cushion time while handing over the project to the other department. Keeping the other departments updated about the status and changes in the project is equally important to ensure that they are not stepping in blind when they take over the baton.

Beware of the dependencies

Suppose there are a set of tasks, only after completing them, can you start another task. This is called task dependency. Similarly, there is a resource dependency, that is, any resource without which you cannot start the next step. These dependencies require special attention as they have the potential to halt your entire project.

Check the Progress Regularly

It is just not the kickoff and the wrap-up meeting. A project manager should frequently monitor progress, regularly ensure the check-ins and constantly nudge the project in the right direction. Asking your team members for feedback from time to time is also crucial.

Project Monitoring and Control

Project monitoring refers to the constant process of tracking the project metrics, ensuring everything is done according to the project requirements and standards, every cost incurred is within the budget and the project is meeting all the deadlines. Constant monitoring is crucial in gaining valuable insights about how a project is going on, what areas need attention and what decisions are to be made to ameliorate the pain points.

Steps for Monitoring and Controlling Project

Understanding the Project Baseline

It is imperative that the project manager understands the scope, budget, and timeline of the project as planned during the project planning phase.

This helps in benchmarking the success throughout the project.

Monitoring and Control

It involves regularly assessing the various metrics of the project and comparing them against the baseline goals. The project manager should keep informing the stakeholders about the same.

Making Necessary Tweaks

No project can be perfectly planned. Every project does require some tweaking in one or the other metrics in order to adjust it to reality. A proper document should be maintained which captures all the changes made in the project plan.

Keeping a check on the cost, Timeline, and Quality

The project manager has to be on a constant lookout to ensure that the deadlines are met, the project runs within the budget and the desired quality is achieved.


In order to gauge the performance of the project against the baseline goals, it is important to collate all the data together and prepare a kind of report card for the project after the completion of every step.

Project Closing

It is the stage when you wrap up your project either because you achieved your objectives or failed to achieve them. The project deliverables are evaluated against various KPIs like speed, accuracy, and quality. A project outcome meeting is held with the stakeholders where the project deliverables are reported.

Learning is an important outcome of this stage. The project manager learns about the competency of his team and is better placed at allocating tasks in the next project. In case of a failed project, the manager should reflect on the mistakes and try doing away with them in the next project.


Spearheading an entire project is not an easy task. Breaking down the project into small actionable tasks always helps. The project management process comes in handy here. The entire process is broken down into 5 phases, with each phase interdependent on the other. The better you perform in one phase, the smoother your next phase. Meticulous planning and constant monitoring go a long way in making a project successful.