Whether it’s a home or a business project, simple or complex by nature, the secret sauce to delivering successful projects is starting strong with the right strategy and execution plan.
You can do this (and do it well) with a go-getter mindset, proper project management approaches, and the right tools.
In this article, you’ll learn about the building blocks of project management, including the key success factors and phases, as well as how project management tools can keep them together. Then we’ll show you how it all works in practice with five real project management examples! 👌
The 4 Phases of the Project Management Life Cycle
The project life cycle, or project management process, consists of four phases: initiating, planning, executing, and closing. It’s a structured path your projects go through to help move them from conception to completion and ensure project objectives are delivered in each phase.
Let’s take a look at what the project manager is responsible for in each phase:
1. The initiation phase
Get everyone onboard. The project manager defines the organization, client, or customer’s goal, identifies key stakeholders, the project team, and the scope of work of the project, and determines measurable objectives for the team.
2. The planning phase
Strategically prepare and map out the project. The project manager is responsible for creating a detailed project plan and outlining the project schedule that includes the major project milestones and describes what tasks or deliverables make up each milestone. This is important because the project plan provides a strategy and project checklist to help properly manage resources, budget, and timeline along the project life cycle.
3. The execution phase
It’s go time. In this phase, the project manager’s main job is to oversee the team’s efforts and ensure everyone understands what’s expected of them, what tasks need to be done, and how and when to complete those tasks to ensure everything is done within the project schedule.
4. The closing phase
Time to wrap up the project. The project manager must identify that their team has completed all of the requested outcomes, then present the final product to the stakeholders to sign off and officially close the project.
📌 Key takeaway:
By following the project life cycle, you’re ensuring that you are:
- Capturing the expectations of your customer
- Setting your project up for success with a plan
- Executing project tasks and addressing any issues or project risks that arise
- Closing out your project to capture any lessons learned and improve the next projects
Key Factors for Successful Project Management
Critical factors for successful project management can vary from one project to another, but here are a few factors that should remain constant no matter the type of project or what industry you’re in:
✅ Set SMART goals
✅ Understand the project scope and prevent scope creep
✅ Identify project risks and create a risk management plan
✅ Clearly defined roles and responsibilities
✅ Effective team communication
✅ Maintain a high level of project visibility
How project management software gives teams flexibility
With so many factors that can impact project success, using project management software can help to keep everyone and everything on track and ahead of curveballs.
A good project management app can take so much of the burden of managing projects off your shoulders by providing teams with the tools they need to get a high-level overview of their work, streamline business processes, create efficient workflows, communicate more effectively, and make collaboration seamless and more enjoyable.
ClickUp, for one, helps project managers and teams plan, manage, track projects, and collaborate with each other—all in one place. Its fully customizable platform gives teams the flexibility and the advanced tools they need to create the most efficient workflow that best suits their project needs and preferences.
And because the platform is fully customizable, teams in ClickUp are fully equipped to handle any type of project and support any type of project management methodology, including the most common approaches such as Waterfall, Agile (Scrum and Kanban), Lean, Six Sigma, and more.
Key ClickUp features for effective project management include:
- Customizable views: View your projects your way; choose from 15+ views, including Gantt Chart, Timeline, and Workload view
- Custom automation: Save time, keep your processes consistent, and streamline your workflow
- Custom task statuses: Add and assign different stages to your tasks to improve project visibility
- Custom Fields: Add more context to your tasks and display important information
- Goals: Stay on track to hit your SMART goals with clear timelines, measurable targets, and automatic progress tracking
- Project milestones: Easily set milestones to help you stay on top of important deadlines and track your team’s progress against major checkpoints
- Dependencies: Add “blocking” or “waiting on” dependencies between tasks to set a clear order of operations, so your team always knows what to work on first
- Task checklist: Create a to-do list within each task to ensure all steps are completed before moving the task forward
- Dashboards: Build a mission control center for each project, team member, and more to ensure every project stakeholder has the information they need to control any project risk and keep the project delivery within its timeline
- Global time tracking: Track time spent on tasks, set estimates, add notes, and view reports of your time from anywhere
- Assigned comments: Create and assign action items directly within a comment
- Mobile app: Keep your projects accessible wherever you go with the ClickUp mobile app
- Integration: Connect ClickUp to over 1,000 of your favorite work tools to streamline your workflow
Now, let’s take a look at a few real-life project management examples and learn how other industry experts have successfully delivered projects using the right methodology and tools!
5 Project Management Examples and Tips for Successful Project Delivery
1. Marketing project example: Creating a cross-functional workflow
Jakub Grajcar, a Marketing Manager at STX Next, leads a team of content and social media specialists, spearheads the Marketing department’s lead generation and brand recognition strategy and works with multiple departments to deliver projects. A typical day for the team includes executing upwards of five content deliverables, with Jakub often reviewing 10+ different projects at a time.
To help improve global collaboration across departments, and content marketing processes, speed up project completion and delivery, and keep the teams aligned on goals, project timelines, and so on by creating a cross-functional workflow and standardizing processes in ClickUp.
Here’s how Jakub and his team carried out this initiative:
- Identify the project: To create Marketing Sprints templates and team Dashboards
- Define the desired outcome: Manage multiple projects, streamline partner outreach, and speed up the content production process
- Project management methodology: Agile
- Set up a Hierarchy in ClickUp
- Create Folders for each department and set up Lists within each Folder
- Within each List, create tasks and subtasks to breakdown the work even further
- Save tasks as a template that can be reused as many times as needed
- Set up Custom Task Statuses to give each stage of the project a designated name
- Add Custom Fields to each List to display and keep key information easily accessible
- Added custom automation to automatically trigger an action and push the project to the next step
- Save the Folder as a template to be reused for the next Sprint and to keep processes consistent
- Build a custom Dashboard with real-time reporting to display key data and improve task visibility
- At the end of the project, Jakub and the teams within STX Next tested the new Marketing Sprints template and Dashboard to ensure the process was smooth for everyone involved in the project and all of the custom automation in ClickUp was set up properly.
📌 Use this Marketing Sprint Folder template to help with project planning, keep project activities visible and organized, and streamline your processes. Hit the ground running with pre-set Board and List views, task estimation capabilities, and customizable automation!
2. SEO project example: Scaling content production
Adele Payant, ClickUp’s SEO Specialist, is responsible for researching opportunities and creating content briefs for the writers to use as a guide when drafting articles for the blog page. And to write compelling content briefs, she has to perform keyword research, competitive analysis, and other important related tasks, and ensure the content brief is detailed and easy to follow for the writers.
To create a clear and repeatable system to help our SEO team ramp up the volume of briefs without compromising the quality of the brief and reduce unnecessary back-and-forth communication.
Here’s how Adele executed this project:
- Identify the project: Create a detailed and structured SEO content brief template
- Define the desired outcome: Create a structured and consistent workflow for researching and creating content briefs, and speed up the approval process
- Project management methodology: Agile
- Connect with the writing team to capture feedback about the current process
- Create an SEO blog checklist in ClickUp Docs
- Start a new Doc and use the rich-editing tools to structure your page
- Add headers to define the sections in your Doc clearly
- Embed links to example articles and other key data from keyword research
- Add nested pages to capture notes for the assigned writer to review before drafting the article
- Save the Doc as a template
- To ensure the content blog brief is up to par, the Sr. SEO Manager, Sr. SEO Specialist, and Sr. Content Managers reviewed the Doc and presented the template to the content writers to review for readability and to gather feedback. The project is officially closed after all stakeholders have approved it.
📌 Use this SEO Content Brief template to clearly state your goals and objectives, and share it with your writers to improve content delivery.
For more SEO project management tips, check out ClickUp’s Sr. SEO Manager’s article: Tips to Optimize Your Workflow.
3. Customer enablement project: Launching a new program
Robin Wisner, ClickUp’s LMS Administrator, is responsible for delivering a new initiative to give ClickUp customers a fun and interactive way to learn how to use ClickUp and maximize the features within the platform.
The Customer Enablement team, of which Robin is a member, launched ClickUp University (CUU) in November 2021. The new program received an overwhelmingly positive response from ClickUp users and ultimately gave the team the green light to launch another option to help further enhance user experience.
To accomplish this, she led the initiative to launch CUU Certificates—a program intended to recognize the ClickUp users’ product knowledge and reward them for completing the course exams.
To delegate work effectively and launch the new certification program on time to provide a measurable process for customers to successfully onboard and enhance their experience as a ClickUp user.
Here’s how Robin and the project team members made it happen:
- Identify the project: Launch and promote the new certification program
- Define the desired outcome: To collaborate with different teams to design and launch the new certification program.
- Project management methodology: Waterfall
- Outline objectives for each certification level and course in ClickUp Docs
- Develop beta test group and SOP for testing in ClickUp Docs
- Outline the diagram taxonomy and customer journey in ClickUp Whiteboards
- Create ClickUp Tasks for content development and assign them to the designated team members
- Use the ClickUp Form to submit a design request for the certificates
- Submit a request to create a new help center overview article
- Collaborate with the Dev Ops team to code and manage website design
- Run tests with the beta test group and collect feedback
- Create internal and external enablement materials
- Submit a request for marketing promotional materials
- To finalize and close this project, the project stakeholders reviewed the creative designs and tested the website’s performance and user experience. The approval was given once project requirements are met.
📌 Use this Feedback Form template to customize your feedback collection, view all your feedback in one place, and improve your products and services.
4. Education project example: Building company-wide data reporting dashboards
Morey Graham, the Director of Alumni and Donor Services (ADS) at Wake Forest University, leads and manages fundraising campaigns, alumni relationships, brand identity, and publications within the Wake Forest community.
To find a new project management tool that is user-friendly for all the departments and to create a business dashboard that displays and updates data in real-time to help improve project visibility across the organization.
Here’s how Morey and the ADS department delivered this project:
- Identify the project: Create an accurate and reliable project dashboard for leadership and team members
- Define the desired outcome: Improve data reporting and task visibility across departments, and align team goals
- Project management methodology: Agile
- Consolidate work tools and integrate apps together to streamline the data reporting process
- Set an all-hands meeting with the department to collect feedback about the current process and document meetings notes in a Doc or Notepad
- Set up your Workspace and establish a dedicated home for each department
- Create a Space for each department to organize work by departments
- Within each Space, create a Folder for each project
- Within each Folder, create a List for each team member
- Customize your project views and add key information to each task
- Create Custom Statuses for every stage of the project
- Set up and add tags to tasks to categorize and link related tasks together
- Establish goals and document targets for each in ClickUp Goals
- Build a custom Dashboard for the entire organization, and each department and project
- Define your Dashboard audience and data story
- Choose the right KPIs to support the data story
- Select the widget that matches your reporting requirements
- Present the project to the department head and key stakeholders for review and approval to close the project.
📌 Create custom Dashboards in ClickUp to get a high-level overview of all your initiatives, highlight KPIs, project status, and progress, to keep everyone on track and aligned at all times.
5. Product launch project example: Launching a new product feature
To further expand ClickUp’s list of features for project management, the company set out a huge initiative to build and successfully launch a new product feature, ClickUp Whiteboards. Spearheading the project is ClickUp’s Group Product Manager, Zach Blodgett.
The company’s vision was to create a powerful yet easy-to-use digital collaboration tool that project managers, executives, and team members could use to level up their brainstorming, planning, and execution processes.
To use a project management tool to help manage tasks, communicate with stakeholders across the globe, and minimize risks and bottlenecks to deliver the new and highly-anticipated product feature within the agreed-upon timeline.
Here’s how Zach and the company launched a successful project launch:
- Identify the project: New feature rollout
- Define the desired outcome: To successfully deliver a responsive and functional new feature and create GTM campaigns for launch day
- Project management methodology: Lean
- Delegate tasks to the respective team members within the Product and Engineering team
- Use the ClickUp-Github integration to preview branches populated in the tasks
- Create Clip videos to report bugs in development and to easily relay complex issues to other teams
- Connect with the Creative team to shoot promotional videos and ads
- Connect with the entire company to run beta testing and collect feedback
- Run tests with the Security team
- Collaborate with Sales to determine the pricing model
- Work with the Product Marketing GTM team to create a marketing campaign plan for the launch
- Set important milestones and schedule for beta release
- The CEO, Sr. VP of Engineering, and other key project stakeholders reviewed the product feature, and approved the final product before launch day.
Here’s the final look—check it out!
📌 Create a step-by-step approach to how your organization will bring a product to the market, and use this Go to Market Strategy template to help you ship faster!
Handle Any Project With Confidence By Using ClickUp
Successful project management starts with understanding what the ultimate goal of the project is, understanding the key elements that go into an intelligent project plan, and creating a smooth and actionable strategy to get there—refer to the project management examples above to help spark ideas.
You’ll also need to ensure to implement the appropriate methodology to guide you through the entire process and utilize the project lifecycle to keep you on track.
And to make your life as a project manager as easy as humanly possible, you need to use a project management tool like ClickUp to help keep everything in order and bring all your work to one centralized place. Use it to track project progress, manage project risks and resources effectively, collaborate with your entire organization, and so much more.
With its extensive list of customizable and functional features, you’ll be fully equipped to handle any type of project management approach, manage multiple complex projects at once, set up the most streamlined workflow, support your remote and hybrid teams, and confidently deliver quality projects on time, every time.
(cue “That was easy” sound effect 😉)