Project Management Articles
Coordinating people and other resources to carry
out the plan.
The execution phase is the primary process for
carrying out the Project Plan; the
vast majority of the project budget
will be expended in performing this
In this phase the project
management team uses the Integrated
Project Plan to coordinate and direct
the various technical and organizational
aspects of the project. It is this
phase that is most directly affected
by Product Oriented Processes in that the
product of the project is actually
are concerned with specifying and
creating the project product. In the IT industry they are referred to as
the Development Lifecycle Processes
(see Executing section, PMO Templates). The lifecycle processes define the work activity
to build the product or service.
It is important to note that
the processes, objectives, lessons
defined here describe the executing
work activities of the project manager,
and or project’s administrative
personnel (procurement coordinator,
communications analyst, scheduler,
QA analyst) in coordinating the
people and other resources to carry
out the plan.
They are not the processes,
objectives, lessons of the product
in this phase that the project manager
actually coordinates the staged
work activities previously defined
in the planning process. The planning process tailored and incorporated
the appropriate lifecycle model
(based on type of product) into
the integrated project plan’s work
The project management team, to ensure the carrying
out of the project plan, uses execution
processes. These processes include plan execution and
work activities to evaluate project
performance, develop team skills,
provide adequate project communications,
and if necessary solicit, select,
and manage contracts.
The key general management skills needed for
successful project execution are
- leading, communicating, negotiating,
problem solving, and influencing.
ensure that the project’s products
are created as agreed.
use the integrated project plan
to coordinate the work activities
and planned agreements represented
provide confidence to the key stakeholders
that the project’s product and process
meet the various agreed quality
To improve project performance by
enhancing the ability of stakeholders
to contribute as individuals and
enhancing the ability of the group
of individuals to function as a
To provide needed information to
project stakeholders in a timely manner – including
responding to unexpected requests
To obtain vendor solicitations,
manage the source selection, and
administer the contract and relationship
with the vendor.
Common lessons learned from skipping
or poorly performing the executing
- Agreements and commitments
in the integrated plan are not
held or not followed through causing
frustration, accusations, distrust,
varying results, poor quality,
work slippage, and sporadic work
- Quality in process
or product is not taken seriously
by all or is sacrificed for any
number of reasons, i.e. removing
test work to stay on schedule.
- Team Moral is low
– distrust of team members and
managers’ skills, finger pointing
and blaming, predominately negative
and sarcastic. Decisions being made based on whose side
is taken, versus facts, logic,
- Work performance
is low or insufficient due to
lack of needed skills on the project.
- Stakeholders lose interest or stakeholders unknowingly sabotage
the project due to lack of information.
- Vendor deliverables
are late or don’t meet contract
expectations. The project or vendors are not performing
their roles/tasks as agreed in
- The project is unsure
what vendor services it paid for
and which it has not. The project and the vendor are knowingly
or unknowingly - not adhering
to the contract.
Input to Executing
Integrated Project Plan.
The integrated project plan
is described in section 2.0 Planning. The integrated project plan may reference
subsidiary plans (requirements management,
change management, risk management,
procurement management, etc) and
the performance measurement baselines
are key inputs to project plan execution.
- Outputs from other
planning processes that are not
included or referenced in the
integrated project plan.
- Additional information
or documentation generated during
development of the project plan
(e.g. constraints and assumptions
that were not previously known).
- Technical documentation;
such as, a history of all research,
assessments, requirements, designs.
- Documentation of
Organizational Policies. Any
and all of the organizations involved
in the project may have formal and
informal policies that may affect
project plan execution.
Preventive action is anything
that reduces the probability of
potential consequences of project
Corrective action is anything
done to bring expected future project
performance in line with the project
Corrective action is an output
of the various control processes-
as an input here it completes the
Executing -Process Activities
process is a course of proven actions
used to guide the organization through
project plan execution.
Performing these activities
has been proven to reduce the amount
of risk and rework in the project.
Remember - The
executing process overlaps with
Typically during the initial stage
of execution the amount of work
activity and staff is low. Generally the project is working from a preliminary
plan to execute some initial work
activities such as research, assessment,
requirements, etc., to obtain more
information about the project and
to complete additional planning.
Remember the execution process
overlaps the other processes (primarily
planning and control) as depicted
Many times it is necessary
to do some of the execution work,
(i.e. research, assessment, requirements,
analysis) before a more definitive
plan can be put in place for work
As a more definitive plan
is completed the momentum and amount
of resources and work activities
This approach of working from a preliminary
plan to do the initial and less
risky work execution tasks is highly
recommended when working with staff
and customers who have low tolerance
levels in seeing work begin on the
Executing Process Activities Diagram
The project management process activities
are diagramed then followed by brief
description of each activity. The diagram is numbered to correspond to the
“Project Management – Overview Reference”
located in the Introduction of this
The overview represents execution
as a single project management step
(#16) because most of the project
management execution work is not
serial. However, for reading purposes we have broken
this single step into a number of
A description of the project management
sub steps follows the diagram.
A sub step title is indicated
in bold in the left-hand column.
The actual work activity to be executed
by the technical team is defined
in the integrated project plan’s
work breakdown structure (WBS).
The standard development
lifecycle models for WBS’s can be
found in the executing templates
section of this guide.
16. Execute Project
This process step has several sub steps
that are worked together to continuously
manage and coordinate the work activities,
resources, information needs, contracts,
quality, and team development. Keep in mind that the project execution process
does overlap project planning and
control processes – meaning that
during the period of time on the
project that the plan is being executed,
the project management team is also
performing more or reiterative project
planning and control activities.
So at the same time that
the products of the project are
being built and implemented – many
project management process activities
are occurring to ensure the project’s
16.1 Administer the plan, resources and work activities
The project manager must ensure that
the project achieves the agreed
results, outcomes and deliverables
as defined in the project’s integrated
project plan. To administer the plan, resources and work
activities the project manager must
lead, communicate, negotiate, problem
solve and influence everyday.
Working from the project plan the
project manager keeps the work moving
forward by focusing the team on
the near term work assignments and
Some project managers have
Monday morning meetings, others
meet daily to ensure that everyone
knows the current work assignments,
to resolve minor issues, to ensure
coordinated work efforts, and determine
how to clear the way of current
In addition the project manager may
have one-on-one meetings with various
project team members or other stakeholders to confirm assignments,
resolve problems, negotiate solutions.
The primary goal is to facilitate
the project’s processes as defined
in the Integrated Project Plan. Often it is easy for the project to stray
from the plan based on the issue
of the day, unsettling news, procrastination,
relationship conflicts, pointless
dialogues, or preference to get
to a specific piece of work.
The project manager must
effectively build and nurture team
values to stay on schedule.
The team must understand
the importance of staying on and
managing to the schedule because
of its importance to the customer
and the organization. However, this is not an excuse for the project
manager to micro-manage or use other
types of harassing tactics to stay
Following written processes
and using soft skills to influence
outcomes has proven to get better
Authority tactics should
be used with caution and in extreme
cases, not as an everyday occurrence.
To be developed - See Planning
and Conducting Meetings in the Tools
and Techniques Section.
the Project Team/Project Performance
development includes both enhancing
the ability of the stakeholders to contribute as individuals as well as enhancing the
ability of the team to function
as a team. Individual development (managerial and technical)
is the foundation necessary to develop
the team. Development as a team is critical to the project’s
ability to meet it objectives.
Team development comes throughout
the life of a project. Tools and Techniques that can assist include
formal and informal team building
activities, team training, reward
and recognition, and collocating
before applying any team building
techniques it is critical to understand
“what “ stage of development the
team is at to determine “what” team
development is needed to increase
the team performance. Applying team development tools without a
purpose or goal and without understanding
of team development stages is often
counter-productive and frustrating
for the whole team.
To be developed - See (Team
Development Stages and Guidelines)
in the Tools and Techniques Section.
performance improvements can come
from many sources and can affect
many areas of project performance;
Improvements in an individual’s
skills (gained through training
or mentoring) may allow a specific
person to perform assigned activities
Improvements in team behaviors (e.g.
surfacing and dealing with conflict)
may allow project team members to
devote a greater percentage of their
efforts to technical activities.
Improvements in either individual
or team competencies may facilitate
identifying and developing better
ways of doing project work.
and Ensure Project Performance
(QA Status and Improvement Report)
quality assurance activities to
be performed on a project are identified
and agreed to during Quality Planning.
These planned activities
are conducted during project execution
to provide confidence to the project
management team, organizational
management, customer and others
that the project is satisfying the
planned process and product quality
A person or group outside of the project
typically performs quality assurance
activities. Formally this may be a contracted QA specialist,
or an internal QA specialist.
Informally this may be another
project manager or technical expert
who is outside the project and that
have been asked to perform some
quality assurance activities.
The Quality Assurance role should
provide overall quality consultation,
periodically examine Quality Control
Reviews results, checklists, change
requests and tracking and summarize
the results for executive review
and oversight throughout the life
of the project.
This summary, whether produced
by a Quality Assurance Reviewer
internal or external to the organization,
must be created using the “QA Status
The summary report includes information
such as overall project risk rank,
definition of high risks uncovered,
and recommendations for resolution
and/or quality improvements.
improvement includes taking action
to increase the effectiveness and
efficiency of the project to provide
added benefits to the project stakeholders – in most cases implementing
quality improvements should be carried
out through change control.
the Stakeholders Informed
Some experts have rated communications to be, as high
as, 70-90% of the project managers
job during project execution. The project manager, throughout the day,
is making needed information available
to project stakeholders in a timely
manner. This takes a considerable amount of the project’s
time and skill sets because
stakeholders may include end
users, business partners, customers,
regulatory groups, suppliers, technology
support, policy developers, technical
developers, producers, testers,
maintainers, and external parties.
Inexperienced project managers often make the mistake
of shying away from the communications
role, and focus on the technical
skill of project management or the
During project execution the project manager formally
manages the communication plan,
which indicates who the stakeholders
are, what type of information is
needed for the project, in what
formats, at what frequency, and
who is responsible for delivering
Ideally the communication plan identifies the need for
both informal and formal communication.
Unfortunately the normal
situation is a communication plan
that focuses on formal communications
for customer stakeholders only. In this case, the informal communications
are dealt with daily on a case-by-case
basis – responding and reacting
to unexpected requests for information.
This often eats up a great
deal of the project manager’s time,
as well as, many other project staff.
Lack of an informal communication
plan leads to complaints about the
project not communicating internally
with the various impacted groups.
The typical written communications that occur during
project execution and are distributed
to differing stakeholders are:
records, deliverable documents,
internal and external correspondence
and memos, email, procurement documents
and records, accounting records,
personnel records, roles and responsibilities,
time tracking records, change and
issues decisions records, presentations,
publications, status reports.
This information should,
to the extent possible and appropriate,
be maintained in an organized fashion.
typical verbal communication that
occur during project execution are:
direction, negotiation, clarifications,
conflict resolution, encouragement,
answering questions, advice, opinion,
decisions, progress or status, and
relaying communication from others.
The successes of these types
of communications are highly dependent
on the project manager’s personal
verbal and behavioral communication
skills. Often these types of soft skills are more
critical than the technical skills
of project management, yet they
are often over looked in project
management training, and the project
manager does not take the time to
improve these skill sets.
is, the project’s written and verbal
communications internally and externally
with all stakeholders often makes
the critical difference between
a successful and non-successful
Select Vendors and Administer Contracts
mistake made on projects is the
idea that solicitation and vendor
selection is part of project planning
or worse yet done before a project
Part of the confusion lies
in the fact that project planning
is intended to overlap the early
project execution work activities,
therefore it seems unclear whether
solicitation and selection are planning
or executing activities.
project execution the project obtains
solicitations from prospective sellers,
i.e. quotations, bids, offers, or
proposals, as appropriate. The project evaluates the proposals based
on the defined evaluation criteria
given in the Request for Proposal
The result of the evaluation
process is the selection of a seller.
Then the project will work
with the contracts unit to negotiate
and sign a contract.
Once a contract is in place
the project begins the execution
of contract administration.
administration focuses on managing
the relationship with the seller. Contract administration is the work activities
that ensure the seller’s performance
meets contractual requirements. On larger projects with multiple products
and service providers, a key aspect
of contract administration is managing
the interfaces among the various
The legal nature of the contractual
relationship makes it imperative
that the project team be acutely
aware of the legal implications
of actions taken when administering
with a single simple contract may
not need a formal Contract and Procurement
Plan. The Contract and Procurement
Management Plan defines the procurement
processes, responsibilities, and
how contracts are to be administered
for project execution.
with contracts must make sure that
they are formally documenting and
filing the outcomes of all the contract
and procurement process activities.
Many organizations require the use of the standard
directory structure for filing electronic
records and recommends a similar
format for hardcopy record.
Output from Executing
Work Results – Work results
are the outcomes of the activities
performed to accomplish the project.
Information on work results
– which deliverables have been completed
and which have not, to what extent
quality standards are being met,
what costs have been incurred or
committed, etc. – is collected as
part of project plan execution and
fed into the performance reporting
It should be noted that although
outcomes are frequently tangible
deliverables such as buildings,
roads, etc., they are also often
intangibles such as people trained
that can effectively apply that
Change Requests – Change
requests (e.g. to expand or contract
project scope, to modify cost (budgets),
or schedule estimates (dates, etc.)
are often identified while the work
of the project is being done.
Tools and Techniques
General Management Skills
– such as leadership, communicating,
and negotiating are essential to
effect project plan execution.
Product Skills and Knowledge.
The project team must have
access to an appropriate set of
skills and knowledge about the project’s
The necessary skills are
defined as part of planning - see
either the Integrated Project Plan
Template or the Training Plan Template,.
Work authorization system.
A formal procedure for
sanctioning project work to ensure
that work is done at the right time
and in the proper sequence.
The primary mechanism is
typically a written authorization
to begin work on a specific activity
or work package.
The design of a work authorization
system should balance the value
of the control provided with the
cost of that control. For example,
on many smaller projects, verbal
authorizations will be adequate.
Status Review Meetings.
Status review meetings are
regularly scheduled meetings held
to exchange information about the
On most projects, status
review meetings will be held at
various frequencies and on different
levels (e.g. the project management
team may meet weekly by itself and
monthly with the customer or other
Project Management Information
A PMIS is used to gather,
integrate, and disseminate the outputs
of the project management processes.
It is used to support all
aspects of the project from initiating
through closing, and can include
both manual and automated systems.
Organization Procedures. Any
and all of the organizations involved
in the project may have formal and
informal procedures that are useful
and/or required during project execution.