Thoughts on Technical Project Management in the Freelance Economy and the Future of Work

Here Are My Dead Simple Project Phases

dead simple project phases

Only four dead simple project phases? What are we going to do with all these people then?

Project management should be simple. There's no reason for project management to become a complex monster that feeds on precious project resources. Project management should maximize the effectiveness of resources. It shouldn't consume them.

Here are four dead simple project phases I use to manage projects. I break projects into these four high-level phases. Doing this provides a simple and consistent frame of reference for everyone involved in the project.  I've also listed the major activities that happen during each phase.

Project Phase 1 -Planning/Initiation

  • Develop client requirements
  • Present/align/iterate/confirm client requirements and expectations
  • Determine/assign required resources
  • Develop plan
  • Confirm plan with client
  • Agree to a process to introduce and implement changes to the original plan, as required

Project Phase 2 - Execution

  • Track progress to plan
  • Manage and maintain the right resource levels to maintain consistency with the timeline and budget
  • Report on adherence and deviations to plan to internal and client stakeholders
  • Realign plan and expectations as required, identifying any potential reasons for realignment as far in advance as possible
  • Remove roadblocks preventing the team from making progress and hitting their goals
  • Maintain positive team morale and motivation
  • Recognize and celebrate the successes as they happen, not just at the end of the project
  • Try and have some fun along the way 😉

Project Phase 3 - Delivery

  • Baseline product being delivered against requirements
  • Present product to client and collect feedback
  • Address client feedback, balancing requests against original requirements vs. additional work, e.g. scope increase
  • Determine next steps, if any

Phase 4 - Ongoing Support

  • Similar steps to 1-3 above, done on a recurring basis, on a schedule agreed to with the client
  • Additional emphasis on reporting can be helpful during this stage, so clients consistently remember the work that’s being done, not just when they receive an invoice 🙂

You can also learn about my dead simple project management principles in this post.