Chapter 5 – Project Life Cycle, Scope, Charters, Proposals

5.4. Execution or Implementation Phase

Phase 3: Execution or Implementation Phase

During the third phase, the implementation phase or execution phase, the project plan is put into motion and the work of the project is performed. It is important to maintain control and communicate as needed during implementation. Progress is continuously monitored in order to make appropriate adjustments as required, which are then recorded as variances from the original plan. In any project, a project manager spends most of the time in this step. During project implementation, people are carrying out the tasks, and progress information is being reported through regular team meetings.

The project manager uses this information to maintain control over the direction of the project by comparing the progress reports with the project plan to measure the performance of the project activities and take corrective action as needed. The first course of action should always be to bring the project back on course (i.e., to return it to the original plan). If that cannot happen, the team should record variations from the original plan and record and publish modifications to the plan. Throughout this step, project sponsors and other key stakeholders should be kept informed of the project’s status according to the agreed-on frequency and format of communication. HR would support the team is designing a Communication Plan, and help to monitor the plan to ensure success. The plan should be updated and published on a regular basis for all stakeholders.

Status reports should always emphasize the anticipated end point in terms of cost, schedule, and quality of deliverables. Each project deliverable produced should be reviewed for quality and measured against the acceptance criteria. Once all of the deliverables have been produced and the customer has accepted the final solution, the project is ready for closure.

After you have carefully planned your project, you will be ready to start the project implementation phase, the third phase of the project management life cycle. The implementation phase involves putting the project plan into action. It’s here that the project manager will coordinate and direct project resources to meet the objectives of the project plan. Human Resources could play a role in helping to coordinate the resources based on team competencies. As the project unfolds, it’s the project manager’s job to direct and manage each activity, every step of the way. That’s what happens in the implementation phase of the project life cycle: you follow the plan you’ve put together and handle any problems that come up.

The implementation phase is where you and your project team actually do the project work to produce the deliverables. The word “deliverable” means anything your project delivers. The deliverables for your project include all of the products or services that you and your team are performing for the client, customer, or sponsor, including all the project management documents that you put together.

The steps undertaken to build each deliverable will vary depending on the type of project you are undertaking, and cannot therefore be described here in any real detail. For instance, engineering and telecommunications projects will focus on using equipment, resources, and materials to construct each project deliverable, whereas computer software projects may require the development and implementation of software code routines to produce each project deliverable. The activities required to build each deliverable will be clearly specified within the project requirements document and project plan.

The job of project manager is to direct the work, but you need to do more than deliver the results. You also need to keep track of how well your team performs. HR would actively support the Project Manager with Performance Plans, and help monitor them. The implementation phase keeps the project plan on track with careful monitoring and control processes to ensure the final deliverable meets the acceptance criteria set by the customer. This phase is typically where approved changes are implemented.

Most often, changes are identified by looking at performance and quality control data. Routine performance and quality control measurements should be evaluated on a regular basis throughout the implementation phase. HR would support the performance measurement process in an indirect way with the Project Manager. Gathering reports on those measurements will help you determine where the problem is and recommend changes to fix it.

HR in Focus: Human Resources and Execution or the Implementation Phase

During this phase, Human Resources may play a less active role as the project activities are completed by the team. However, they may be involved in monitoring the communication plan, report distribution, and performance of the team.

Communication Plan

Human Resources would assist in setting up the Communication Plan and on a regular basis “check in” with the team on how communication between the team, and the Project Manager, and between the Project Team and external stakeholders is developing. If there are issues, they may act as a support to help get communication channels back on track.

Report Distribution

Human Resources may play a role in monitoring report distribution, and ensuring that reports are flowing where they need to be. For example, who needs the reports, and what time do they need them by? If there are issues, Human Resources may intervene to figure out the issues, and help the team solve the problems.

Performance Plans

Human Resources would have established performance plans with the team and Project Manager at the beginning of the project. They would regularly “check in” and perhaps have mini-performance reviews with the team (individually, or team) to ensure the goals are being met, that deadlines are being met, and the team dynamic is strong. If there are issues, HR may support the team in developing strategies to improve performance through training, individual or team motivational speeches, and through workshops on team building (refreshers.) If there are issues the Project Manager is having difficulty with, the same would apply. If the Project Manager was having difficulty with the team, or an individual, HR could provide support and guidance on how to deal with the issues.