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A project can be broken down into four different stages. Each stage is crucial and should be treated as just as important as the other stages. The four stages are:

Defining the Project

This is the first step of project management, incredibly crucial, and frequently skipped. Defining a project means sitting down and really thinking about and determining what you want the outcome to be. You need to decide who is in charge (for personal projects or if you’re self-employed, this will frequently be you), what the budget is, and if the project is really as worthwhile as you think it is.

Planning the Project

Now that you have defined the project, know what you want to achieve, and the potential obstacles, it’s time to plan the actual project. Once again, this is a crucial, but frequently skipped step.

This is where you decide what tasks need to be done to complete the project, decide on the timeline and develop the schedule. This is also where you sit down, think about what problems might crop up, and create a game plan on what you’ll do if those problems arise.

Executing the Project

This is where most people tend to start off – the execution phase. The execution phase takes up the bulk of the time and consists of accomplishing tasks, communication with team members. However there are other significant, but often overlooked, parts of this phase, such as running into and solving problems, adjusting for changes, staying on top of budget, and smoothing out any inter-team problems.

The Close-Out Phase

Just because all the tasks are accomplished, doesn’t mean the project is done. The close-out phase is where you make sure the product is ready for launch and complete all relevant administrative tasks. That’s not all thought-the close-out phase is also where you take a look back at your project and evaluate-what went wrong, what went right, and what could have be done better. Even if you’re never working with that particular set of people again, you should still do this. You can take the information, learn from it, and ensure that you’re next project goes even better!

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