Arguably the most crucial phase in any project cycle, the presentation often determines whether or not a project will reach its eventual conclusion. Depending on the nature of the project, decision makers could include board members, supervisors, investors, creditors, community members, customers, or other stakeholders. By the presentation phase, project managers and planners should be able to communicate:
- project need
- goals and expected outcomes
Although many project managers prepare for the presentation phase of the project cycle by building Gantt charts and PowerPoint decks, most veteran planners recommend that presenters prepare to debate and to defend the merits of their proposals. It’s not uncommon for projects to move between the first three phases numerous times before receiving approval.
While implementation represents just one phase of a seven-step project cycle, it frequently takes the longest amount of time. During this phase a project manager actually takes the steps to lead a team through the process developed during the previous four stages.
While some project management professionals prefer to view monitoring as a task that happens throughout the project cycle, many business schools now teach students to treat this important task as its own dedicated stage. Building a monitoring stage into a project cycle can involve measuring independent benchmarks or scheduling formal progress meetings. Unlike the evaluation stage of the project cycle, monitoring focuses more on individual tasks or personnel in order to make adjustments. Projects often shift between implementation and monitoring phases multiple times during a project cycle.
Highly functional organizations use the evaluation phase of the project cycle to answer three important questions:
- What went well during the project?
- What didn’t go so well?
- What would project leaders and team members do differently during future projects?
A successful evaluation phase requires effective planning during the preparation phase. If project members succumb to office politics or fail to document the shifting scope of a project, the evaluation phase of a project cycle can easily shift to “blaming and shaming.” However, when measurable goals are set and stakeholders agree on desired outcomes, all parties can make honest, insightful evaluations.