In my last post, I discussed the difference between operational functions and projects. If you haven’t read that post yet, please do before continuing on here where I will be discussing project methodology.

Once something is defined as a project, you must recognize and understand the most effective approach you should take before you can move forward with the task itself. A defined methodology helps to keep the project on track (schedule, budget, scope, and quality). It also provides a structure to follow throughout the life of the project, and can be applied to future projects. In this post we will look at the basics of a traditional approach to managing a project.

The Project Management Institute (PMI®), a globally recognized leader in project management, identifies five essential process groups for every project:[1]

1.       Initiating
Initiating is the process of identifying the purpose, establishing objectives, identifying the stakeholders and receiving authorization to proceed with the project or phase.

2.       Planning
Planning contains the most components of all the processes and is a critical step in the overall success of the project or phase. The scope needs to be defined in detail. Once the scope has been defined, the list of tasks needs to be created and resources need to be identified. Budget and costs then need to be determined and planned for all project activities. An effective communication plan needs to be established during this phase. Throughout the planning process, risks should be identified and analyzed. In addition, it is important to develop a plan to effectively manage stakeholder needs and expectations.

3.       Executing
Executing is the process of taking action on the planned activities. This involves the coordination of people and resources to complete defined tasks. Managing communications, procurement, and stakeholder engagement are all part of the executing process group.

4.       Monitoring & Controlling
Monitoring & Controlling is the process of making sure that the project is staying on schedule, within scope, within budget and meeting defined quality levels. Throughout this process it is important to make sure communication is occurring as planned, risks are being tracked and addressed, and procurement of resources is staying within planned constraints. If adjustments need to be made for any activity, then those would go back to the Executing process to complete and repeat the process between Monitoring & Controlling and Executing as needed.

5.       Closing
Closing is the final step of any project or phase, which includes conducting “lessons learned” in order to improve project performance in the future. Concluding all closing activities for procurements and any other outstanding tasks is also part of this process.

These processes apply to the project as a whole as well as the different phases of the project. How much time and effort is spent in each process will depend on the scale and scope of the project or phase, however each is an important part to the overall management of any project.

Demands on school districts continue to increase and change is inevitable. Recognizing the difference between what is a project and what is not helps us understand what approach to take to manage the related activities. Using recognized and proven methods for projects creates a standard which everyone can follow and measure their work against. Managing the project using that standard is the key to project success.

For more information regarding project management and project related articles, check out the Project Management Institute’s (PMI®) website at


[1]Project management body of knowledge (5th Ed.). (2013). Newtown, PA: Project Management Institute [PMI].

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s