Phase 3 & 4 in target-oriented project management

Introduction to project management: How do you proceed when planning is completed and implementation is underway? How important is the project cycle and why is a good debriefing important? When is a project finished at all? In this chapter we look at what is important in the implementation phase and how important it is to complete a project correctly.

In the second part of our project management 101 we talked about the first two phases of each project, the meaningful objective and a target-oriented planning. Once these phases have been completed, a catalogue of measures is available and the implementation of the defined measures should begin. But what do we have to pay attention to? And when is the time reached when a project is finished?

Phase 3: Implementation

Once the plan is fixed, it is finally time for implementation. At last, you can rush in - roll up your sleeves and get started. But the whole thing only makes sense if you can keep track of how well it works. Therefore, the good old plan is needed again. As a benchmark, so to speak. There are countless variants for comparing the implementation with the plan. For example, the PDCA cycle, or the DMAIC methodology. It's easy to google what exactly is hidden behind these methods of process management - that's easy to read.

PDCA Cycle

Consists of four phases:

• Plan
• Do
• Check
• Act

The steps are to be seen as an iterative circle that represents a continuous improvement process.

DMAIC methodology

Consists of five phases:

• Define
• Measure
• Analysis
• Improve
• Control

The aim of this method is to support an improvement cycle with data.

Ultimately, it doesn't matter how you do benchmarking. The only important thing is that the project should have a certain cycle during the year. For example, monthly: Three weeks working on the project progress and then in the fourth week everything on hold and check how plan and reality relate to each other. Where are time variances and why? What about the budget? Are there any structural problems? Have we perhaps forgotten that the summer holidays are coming up in July and that Nik from IT has paternity leave? Whatever. Now it can be decided what will be done.

Often new things are added here and old ones are thrown out. Sometimes the plan is also adapted - but you should be reasonably sure that the plan is "wrong" and not the implementation. Implementing a new plan every month is annoying and usually counterproductive. One or the other project might fly into phase 1 again and get a new objective. No problem. The main thing is to notice that something has to be done. Because nothing is less effective than making things more efficient that are not needed.

In bigger projects, this time can also be used to inform any financing institutions or shareholders centrally and in a structured manner about the progress of the project. The whole thing usually happens very often, because this beautiful key phase usually covers more than 90 percent of the project period.
In later articles, we will discuss many aspects of project implementation and show you resources that can help you optimize your project. Soon you will find here the pros and cons of a project management office - also called PMO - and tips on how to check measures and their implementation in Falcon. You will also find exciting postings on the measurability of effects and the Top 7 free tools for project managers, which will do justice to this important phase and the mastering of its challenges.

Phase 4: Closing & debriefing and good coffee

As already described in the first part, a project inevitably comes to an end. At some point you have to draw a line. Either because the project has led to success or has come to a standstill due to definite failure, or because it simply does not continue. Every project can fall asleep or sink into the turmoil of day-to-day business. That's anything but good, but it happens - and it happens frighteningly often. McKinsey, for example, shows in a large study that only just under a third of the planned initiatives come to fruition.

However, it is important that the project is then actively shelved. This can then be called a "pause". But to learn from the project death, a debriefing must follow. What worked, what didn't? Why? What was good, what was bad? This is the only way to achieve collective learning success. That's why everyone involved in the project should be involved. A well-structured debriefing is sometimes more important than the project. But ending a bad project with an unprepared debriefing can make it even worse.

After we have dealt in more detail with the phases of each project, in the next chapter we look at the advantages of a degree of implementation system and different project management methods. Because there are circumstances under which it makes sense for you to deviate from classical project management.