Once a Project begins, it has sequential stages to go through. The simplest stages could be: Start - Middle - End. More strategic could be: Concept, Proposal, Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring & Control, Closure.

My last blog talked to Knowledge Areas (KAs) which are more detailed and help define what areas of work need to be addressed in a project (can can be considered the headings for a Project Management Plan - template).  KAs overlap with project Stages and both work together. The stages provide a higher level focus of how to flow through the project as work is applied, and what each stage should try to focus on.

Examples of focus for each Stage includes:
1) Concept - formulate an idea that could bring value
2) Proposal - test the idea to see if there is possible value
3) Initiation - confirm that the idea can be a project and at a high level what is it about, confirm why it should be done, who would lead the work, and how it aligns with the company
4) Planning - confirm who will work on the project and in detail, what work will be done & how it will be done, then confirm the quality requirements, timing when will it be done and budget how much it will cost
5) Execution - confirm that the plan gets carried out and actions are taken against the planned activities and tasks (this is the easiest Stage of a project, just follow the plan)
5) Monitoring & Control - confirm an approach that ensures work aligns with the plan as it is carried out, ensure adequate checks & measures and corrective actions as required (get back in alignment with the plan if needed)
6) Closure - conduct formal acceptance and hand off the project to an operational environment
 The most common methodology (www.pmi.org) uses Initiation, Planning, Monitoring & Control, Closure. These stages are called "Process Groups".  The 6 stages listed above come from the NexLev methodology which focuses additional time and energy in the early stages. This helps to ensure proper strategy is reviewed in a formal manner and as early as possible in the project (spend more time identifying the value and alignment). All project output must be aligned with the company vision, mission, mandate and operations.

As one flows through the project (from start to end) a diagram that illustrates the level of effort for each Stage is attached below (note the levels of overlap as work transitions between stages):