What is Project Execution? Steps, Strategies, and Tips

Updated Aug 3, 2022.
project-execution

Your project team does everything possible to get your project to start the right way, thoroughly implementing every possible item at the project initiation phase. You hold project kick-off meetings to ensure the project stakeholders are on the same page, map out the project scope, timeline, and milestones, and collaborate with the project on the project plan.

With every document and mechanism in place to run a successful project, suddenly everything seems to fall apart during the project execution phase. You start having to adjust project deadlines due to the frequent changes you are making to the project. Frustration and confusion set in as you spend more time and money than originally budgeted. What’s the problem?

Although your project planning is excellent, your project execution is poor. Your team can easily lose track of the project goals, develop communication problems, and stop implementing procedures outlined in the project execution plan. 

After investing resources into creating your project execution plan, you have to ensure you can effectively deliver on the contents of the document.

In this article, you will learn how to make the execution phase of your project management life cycle a success.

Let’s get started.

What is Project Execution?

Project execution is one of the crucial phases of the project management life cycle. It involves thoroughly carrying out the details of the project plan and objectives to deliver the desired service and product to the project sponsor.

The project execution phase is the most complex and longest phase of the project management life cycle. This phase entails the implementation of all pre-planned strategies and plans. 

4 Stages of the Project Life Cycle
Source: Venngage

The focus of the project manager naturally changes to the immediate implementation and supervising of the project execution processes at this phase. 

Continuous tracking of the project progress while ensuring set milestones and deliverables meet the project schedule is fundamental to the successful execution of the project.

The project manager is instrumental to the successful implementation of the project execution plan. He or she plays roles such as managing the project team, processes, and communication. A well-executed project plan results in efficient and timely completion of the project.

What Happens During the Project Execution Phase?

The order of events or activities during the execution phase is dependent on a variety of factors. They include the nature of the project, the project plan, and the project sponsor preferences. 

  • The execution of the project scope and objectives.
  • Management of the project team affairs and tasks to ascertain discipline and control.
  • Recommendation of changes and corrections where necessary during any stage of the project life cycle.
  • Effective communication between the various project stakeholders and the project manager.
  • Regular and timely conduct of team-building and bonding activities to foster togetherness and increase the morale of the team.
  • Celebration of project milestones reached to motivate project team members.
  • Regular meetings to discuss the status and progress of the project process to ensure you meet the project schedule and timeline.
  • Proper documentation of all changes made during the implementation of the project to ensure accountability.

Biggest Challenges During Project Execution

To ensure the successful execution of the project plan, you need to adequately deal with challenges to ensure they do not affect the project schedule or timeline. 

1. Lack of Common Understanding

You can attribute this to a lack of effective and proper communication between stakeholders involved in executing the project. Ensure you correct this urgently as it is detrimental to the project. If there is no understanding among various stakeholders, the project execution phase will suffer a massive setback and ultimately fail.

2. Disinterest Shown by Project Sponsors 

This is one of the major setbacks project managers face. Often, project sponsors show an absolute lack of interest until the latter stages. Project managers have to make lots of changes to accommodate the ideas of the project sponsors. This eventually leads to setbacks and directly affects the project timeline.

3. Poor Change of Management Process

During the execution of the project, the need might surface for a change or the addition of fresh minds. This move aims at introducing a more innovative touch to the project process. If the sudden change in the management process is poorly managed, it would hurt the project.

4. Poor Leadership 

Leadership is one of the essential skills in project management. Project managers with poor leadership skills will struggle to successfully execute projects. 

What are the largest Project Management Challenges in your Organisation
Source: Workamajig

Project Execution Strategies That Work

A visibly huge gap exists between the project plan and its day-to-day implementation. Choosing the right project execution strategies is crucial to the success of the project. 

1. Leverage Project Management Software

Properly and efficiently using the right project management tool is an added factor to the success of the project. The best project management tools offer deep visibility into the project status in a bid to reduce to the barest minimum, the need for manual tracking of the execution phase. 

In addition, they also provide easy access to periodic reports in a manner that boosts efficiency. Some of the essential project management reports you can generate with project management software tools include project status reports, project health reports, team availability reports, project risk reports, variance reports, and time tracking reports. 

Most used project management software features
Source: Clockify

2. Delegating Tasks to Increase Efficiency

Delegation of tasks is the ability of project managers to build the confidence of team members by placing the responsibilities for tasks on them to ensure a smooth and successful project. 

Task delegation ensures every member of the team plays a significant role, no matter how small, to achieve the project set goals and objectives. 

3. Empowering Team Members with the Ability to Make Decisions

The need to empower members of a project team with the ability to think and make independent decisions is crucial to the success of a project. It breeds innovative ideas. 

This also acts as a motivation to the empowered members of the project. They are tasked with the ability to go far and beyond in meeting the project goals and objectives. The onus is now upon the empowered members to make smart and innovative decisions to fulfill the set plans.

4. Openness to Innovative Ideas

Involving all project team members in all stages of the project is always a plus to the project process. This is because lots of innovative and smart efficient ideas are produced during these interactions. 

The openness of the project manager to welcome and accept better suggestions when put forward is one of the strategies needed to ensure the successful execution of the project plan. This serves as a point of motivation to team members as they feel valued to be included in the decision-making process.

5. Effective Management of Team Communication

The project manager is responsible for ensuring efficient and open communication exists between all members of the project team. Regular and periodic sharing of the project progress is necessary throughout the entirety of the execution phase. 

Schedule regular meetings to review the progress of the project. Focus discussion on the next plans and steps to take to ensure the success of the project.

6. Regular Tracking of Progress

Regularly tracking the progress of your project helps you know how close you are to completing it, what you have achieved so far, and what areas are left. 

Certain risks often present themselves during the project execution phase. Only through regular progress tracking can these risks be discovered and adequately dealt with. You can use project tracking software to track the progress of your project in real-time.

7. Controlling the Menace of Scope Creep

All projects are at risk of the menace of scope creep. This usually occurs when the project skids out of control of the project manager and the initial project scope. 

Although not all change requests need to be adhered to, the project manager must show considerable willingness to be able to adapt to certain changes. They include market conditions, sponsors’ needs, and the priorities of the organization.

8. Ensuring Quality of Output and Deliverables

All successful project plans are not devoid of issues, no matter how flawless the plan is. Your best bet is to ensure that at all stages of the project, you are successfully able to transform the project sponsor expectations to deliverables. This is the major goal of every successful project. 

You need to conduct periodic tests of the deliverables. This ensures they meet the project sponsor’s acceptance level. Once you have successfully achieved the project deliverables, you need to review them in a bid to gain acceptance and approval. 

After the acceptance and approval of the project deliverable, the project can proceed to the next phase of completion.

How Project Management Software Supports the Project Execution Phase

Project management software is an effective platform that avails project managers unique opportunities for planning, monitoring and reporting on various project processes while also ensuring collaboration. 

1. Helps Manage Project Details

Effective online project management software provides project teams with the ability to manage details crucial to the project. Various project management tools and features are utilized in different project management software. This helps in ensuring ease of use and implementation of specific project management strategies.

2. Reduces Constraints in the Project Execution Process

The importance of using web-based project management software especially during the execution stage of a project process cannot be overemphasized. 

Using manual spreadsheet-based software is not a reliable system for handling complex and multiple projects successfully. It is one of the major bottlenecks in the bid to execute a project successfully. 

Thanks to the advent of project management software tools, the constraint in the project execution process has been reduced significantly. These software tools help bring large-scale collaboration as well as smart intuition to the project execution phase.

3. Keeps Project Team on Track

The project execution phase is the longest and most tasking stage in the project life cycle due to the complexities that tend to arise. Handle this stage with every bit of care to ensure the project team remains on track at all points to deliver on the project objectives. 

4. Aids the Successful Implementation of the Project Plan

With the pressure that comes with investing time and resources in the successful implementation of a project plan, there is a need for proper and thorough skills and procedures.

This is what project management software tends to offer. Project management applications, with a keen eye for details and effectiveness, aim to provide several advantages to project managers to ensure they successfully implement the project plan.

Anastasia Belyh

Editor at FounderJar

Anastasia has been a professional blogger and researcher since 2014. She loves to perform in-depth software reviews to help software buyers make informed decisions when choosing project management software, CRM tools, website builders, and everything around growing a startup business.

Anastasia worked in management consulting and tech startups, so she has lots of experience in helping professionals choosing the right business software.