Phase 1 & 2 of a successful project

Introduction to project management: What are the phases of a successful project and how do you proceed in each phase? In this chapter we deal with the phases of goal definition as a basis and the planning for the realization of these goals. We give concrete examples for a target-oriented introduction to project management and help you not to get bogged down in details.

In the first part of our Project Management 101 project management 101 we could see that every project has a beginning and an end. But let's start at the beginning. That's what this is about!

Phase 1: The good old beginning - goal, time frame, budget & structure as a basis

At the beginning of every project there is already the end. It is about defining the goal of the project roughly, but still resiliently, so that it can motivate all the steps in the further course of the project. "What should happen, how long do we have to do it, what will it cost us and what will it bring us", are typical key questions in this phase.

An example:

  • More sales as a goal is as bad as:
  • 103,45 € more turnover
  • Better: 10% more turnover

So the goal is broad enough to understand, but accurate enough to be roughly verifiable. That's enough.

And another example:

  • We need to grow in order to keep up in a competitive environment is better than
  • Growing is good but definitely not as good as:
  • In the next 8 months we need 10% more sales - because this will result in 2% liquidity growth. This would finally enable us to buy machine ABC.

Why is that? Every project participant has to understand what the goal is and why there is a special project for it. Nothing is more deadly than a lack of understanding the goal - only then can project participants act independently. If there is no uniform understanding of objectives, work is often done for nothing and nothing again. There are countless variants to define and determine a goal. More about this in another post.

Goals have to:
• be broad enough for everyone involved in the project to understand them
• be accurate enough to be verifiable
• have a time frame

Once the goal has been defined, the motto "Divide and Conquer" applies. The best way to do this is to have a rough project structure: What needs to be done when and who is responsible for it?

To stay with the example: For 10% more turnover, we want to quickly improve product quality (Susanne), eliminate traffic jams in logistics in the next six months (Michael), implement an online shop this year (Gabi) and create a new marketing concept (Jochen). In Falcon we call this level the packages of measures. It is important that Susanne, Michael, Gabi and Jochen get together at the latest now to coordinate their own understanding with the main responsible persons.

Also the budget that is approximately available or needed for the project must now be determined. This is the so-called Ballpark-Estimate. Because anyone who can say at this point: "We need 123,467.37 €" is either damn well prepared or underestimates how quickly things change.

At this point you also notice how big the project is. If only one person is busy for a few days, it might be more of a task. If there are several people who should work together more or less independently over a longer period (e.g. a few weeks or sometimes even months to years), then it is certainly a project.

Phase 2: A bit of planning is rarely wrong

If there is an initial structure of project areas, it is necessary to plan more precisely what is to happen when and who does the whole thing. But how annoying is planning? And in the end the plan doesn't matter anyway. But we think: planning replaces ignorance with fallacy. A small plan helps to uncover assumptions in the implementation that were not correct and to correct them. It then becomes easier to identify what is wrong and what can be done better.

For example: A new online shop is needed to increase turnover. We call this level of the project in Falcon a measure. The measure itself is described in more detail in individual steps (the so-called activities). Here it is recorded who does what and when.

Important: Do not get bogged down in detail! Usually five to ten activities or partial steps per measure are perfectly sufficient to record what should happen. The measures can then be continuously detailed over the course of the project. This is also where methods such as Scrum and Agile come into play. More on this later.

In addition to the time structure, it should also be noted here which financial or other resources are required over the course of the project - but also what this should result in and when. The catalogue of activities can be used to determine which personnel resources are tied up for how long, which external service providers may have to be hired, which equipment or locations are to be used, which purchases are necessary at what price and what the result of using these resources should be.

By the way: most people forget that there are central key people and functions. If, for example, the IT department is scheduled for 39 activities in March and Nik from IT is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, it might make sense to check beforehand what exactly who has to do and whether this is feasible in addition to day-to-day business.

If all project participants have recorded what is to happen when by whom and what costs how much and when and what are the returns, it goes back to the beginning. The now detailed structure must be aligned with the goal, time frame and budget. At this point there are usually a few loops, which are turned until a uniform understanding is found.

In the next part of the next part of the series Projectmanagement 101 series, you will learn what is particularly important in the implementation phases and at the end of the project.