Explaining the traditional project phases

If you are new to the field of project management, you may look for an easy way to structure your project management process. The traditional project phases shall help you to complete all tasks in the right sequence and at the right time.

Traditional project management can be described in terms of five key phases:
1. Initiating
2. Planning
3. Executing
4. Monitoring and Controlling
5. Closing

Each of these phases differs in specific ways from the corresponding agile phase. We will explain them in this article.

Traditional project management phases

1. Initiating
The initiating phase of traditional project management involves defining the business objectives for a project and incorporating these in a clear vision statement. It also creates a detailed description of the project’s scope and obtaining a project sponsor’s approval to go ahead with the project.

The counterpart in lean project management is the envisioning phase, which involves determining a project’s vision and relevant objectives and constraints. Nevertheless, it doesn’t involve defining a fixed project scope. Instead, the details of a project are expected to become clear only as the project progresses.

2. Planning
During a traditional project’s planning phase, every aspect of the project is planned.
The agile counterpart is the speculating phase, which also involves planning. The team creates a project or release plan based on required product features during this phase. However, this is a rough estimate and it’s assumed that this plan will be adjusted as work proceeds.

3. Executing
During the traditional executing phase, teams carry out project work in accordance with the project plan’s specifications. Project managers track the actual work completed against the work that’s been planned.

The counterpart in lean project management is the exploring phase. This involves completing the actual project work. However, it’s not expected that a development team will adhere strictly to the initial project plan. Instead, the process includes ongoing reviews and testing, with adjustments made to the plans for subsequent iterations based on the results.

4. Monitoring & Controlling
The traditional monitoring and controlling phase occurs throughout a project. This phase involves comparing the actual and the originally planned results. It takes steps as necessary to bring these in line.

The counterpart in lean project management is the adapting phase. The focus here is on adapting and incorporating change to develop the most value for the customer within acceptable constraints.

5. Closing
In a traditional project, the closing phase involves completing relevant documentation and handing deliverables over to the customer.
The counterpart in lean project management is also called the closing phase. It begins only after several iterations, each of which creates one or more deliverables that are handed to the customer.

If you want to learn the agile project management model instead, you should enroll in the Certified Lean Project Manager®

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