5 Phases of Project Management (PMP)

5 project management phases

Table of contents

Project phases: How many are there?

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Different schools of thought exist about the number of phases a project goes through. Some groups have identified four, such as the HBR, while others like the APM have mentioned six. The PMI, which is the publisher of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), explains that project phases make up a project lifecycle and the phases should fit a project’s needs. Determining the elements of a project lifecycle will help take a project from start to finish. The PMI developed five phases of project management that can provide a high-level view of the project and serves as the roadmap to accomplishing the project.

5 Phases of Project Management

According to project management concepts, a project goes through the different phases characterized by a distinct set of activities or tasks that take the project from conception to conclusion. There are big projects and there are small projects, but all of them have constraints like cost, time, and resources.

Managing project phases with PM tools

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As important as analyzing a project lifecycle, managing a project effectively means implementing an overall solution. Project management software assists teams in successfully initiating a project, planning that project, and then executing it through a series of clearly-mapped expectations and goals. This makes it easier for teams to access every step of the project and enable the project manager to monitor and provide controls during execution. This overall solution helps decrease information silos and increase work productivity. Below are the top project management software to help businesses properly phase and finish projects.


What are the 5 phases of a project?

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As projects become more complex, it’s important to structure and define the project elements throughout the entire lifecycle to avoid getting lost in the hustle and bustle. One way to organize a project is to sort it into the five phases of project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure.

Phase 1: Project Initiation

At the project initiation phase, a project formally starts and gets a name. The project manager defines it at a broad level. Project sponsors and other important stakeholders make a due diligence and decide whether or not to commit to a project. Depending on the nature of the project, stakeholders conduct a feasibility study. For an IT project, the project team performs requirement gathering and analysis in this phase. In most industries, such as in the construction industry, it is the phase where the team completes a project charter.

Phase 2: Project Planning

At the planning phase, the project team collates and combines individual plans for cost, scope, duration, quality, communication, risk, and resources to create a comprehensive project plan. Some of the important activities that mark this phase are creating the work breakdown structure, schedule, milestone charts, Gantt charts, and resource estimates and allotment. Teams also identify modes of communication with stakeholders based on milestones, deadlines, and important deliveries. The project team allocates time to build a plan for managing identified and unidentified risks as this may affect aspects of the project later on. Risk management planning includes risk identification and analysis, risk mitigation approaches, and risk response planning.

Read also: Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), the Basic Building Block for a Project Plan

Phase 3: Project Execution 

At the project execution phase, the team works on and completes the project deliverable according to the project plan. During this phase, the project manager and other stakeholders capture metrics through status meetings, project status updates, workload reports, and performance reports. This critical phase provides the project team and all involved a clearer indication if the project will succeed or fail.

Phase 4: Project Monitoring and Control

The project monitoring and control phase occurs at the same time as the execution phase. This phase focuses on measuring project performance and progression in accordance to the project plan. Scope verification and control occurs to check and monitor for scope creep, and change of control occurs to track and manage changes to project requirement. The project manager performs calculations of key performance indicators for cost and time to measure the degree of variation, if any, and in which case the team determines the corrective measures and course of action to keep the project on track. To prevent project failure, consider why projects are likely to fail and the ways to prevent failure.

Phase 5: Project Closure 

At the closure phase , the project team and stakeholders formally closes the project. This phase includes performing a series of important tasks such as delivering the product, freeing up resources, rewarding team members, and formally ending the employment or services of contractors. The project manager calls a post mortem meeting to evaluate what went well in the project and what did not for lessons learned. The project team can also go through a punch list to make sure they complete all deliverables, however minor. At this time, the PM prepares the final budget report and project report. The whole project team will also finalize, organize, and store all project documentation.

Read also: Using Digital to Deliver a Knock Out in Your Project’s Closure Phase

Book suggestion

5-Phase Project Management book

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Five-phase Project Management: A Practical Planning And Implementation Guide is a classic book by Robert Wysocki and James Lewis. Published in 1992, the paperback edition includes 144 pages divided into 10 chapters of practical best practices in simple-to-use format. The book walks readers through each phase of project definition, planning, implementation, management, and maintenance and helps them avoid confusion, conflicts, and bottlenecks during project management. Read our review of this book.

Project Management Phases Video

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This 5-minute video introduces the 5 phases of project management lifecycle. The host Adriana Girdler takes the viewer through the different project lifecycle phases and gives additional information and tips about going through each phase towards running a successful project.


Roli Pathak

Over the last 7 years, I have worked on a variety of tasks and projects assisting in many roles from Technical Writing to Business Analysis, from receiving instructions and executing to making work packages and distributing among team members.

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