Planning a project
Planning a project

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Planning a project

2.2 The classic six-stage project management model

This model also consists of stages, but, unlike the sequential flow of the project life-cycle, the six-stage model assumes that some stages are carried out simultaneously. In particular, the model (Figure 3) assumes that communications will take place throughout the project. It also assumes that team building, leading and motivation will take place once the project has been defined and continue until it ends.

Figure 3 Classic six-phase project management model (Elbeik and Thomas, 1998, p. 14)

The six phases are:

Define: The project is discussed fully with all the stakeholders and the key objectives are identified. The costs and timescales are also established at this stage and there is often a feasibility study as well. This stage is complete when the project brief has been written and agreed.

Plan: An initial plan is developed. Planning is an ongoing activity because the plan is the basis for reviews and revision when necessary, depending on how the project progresses.

Team: The team members are usually involved in developing the plan and are often able to contribute specialist knowledge and expertise. The building of this team and its motivation and leadership also continue until the project is finished.

Communications: should take place continuously, both within the project team and between the project team and stakeholders in the project, including anyone who contributes to achievement of the outcomes. Some communications will be through formal reporting procedures but many will be informal.

Control: Implementation takes place during the control stage (stage 4 in the model). During this stage, the tasks and activities of the team will be monitored against the plan to assess the actual progress of the project against the planned progress. Control is essential to ensure that the objectives are met within the scheduled timescales, budgeted costs and quality. Regular reviews are usually held to enable the plan to be revised and for any difficulties that emerge to be resolved.

Review and exit: The review is held to evaluate whether all the intended outcomes of the project have been met. It is also important because it enables information to be gathered about the processes used in carrying out the project from which lessons can be learned for the future. The exit from the project has to be managed to ensure that:

  • any outstanding tasks are completed;

  • all activities that were associated with the project are discontinued;

  • all resources are accounted for, including any that remain at the end and have to be transferred or sold to someone else.

Many projects evolve through a series of loops of planning, acting, reviewing and replanning. It is important to think of planning as a continuous activity rather than something that can be completed once and used without change for the duration of the project. Expect change and allow scope to change or modify the plan.

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