Your Advanced Project Management Toolkit

7 minutes   |  CAREER ADVICE, PROJECT MANAGEMENT

If you want to consider yourself an advanced project management expert, you’ll need to ensure your toolkit is jam-packed with the project management necessities.

Whether you learn project management online to break into the industry, or you hope you to top up your existing project management qualifications, understanding the essential tools will be vital to the success of your career.

Here are 3 tools and concepts necessary for advanced project management:
1. The project management life cycle

What is the project management life cycle?

The project management life cycle, otherwise referred to as the PLC, refers to the phases that a project passes through from its inception until its conclusion. Each phase of the project is made up of related activities that, when completed, result in a project deliverable. Project management life cycle phases should be sequential and should have clarity in terms of their own beginning and end dates. It’s one of the basic principles of the discipline and is central to online project management courses.

Hint: Start and end dates are one of the defining features of all projects and should be major considerations in every project you tackle.

What are the stages of a project management life cycle?

  1. The initiation and planning phase: this element of project management refers to the start of a new project as it makes considerations about the objectives, scope, purpose and deliverables that need to be achieved in order for the project manager to consider the project a success.
  2. The intermediate phase: this phase contains the bulk of the work for a project and involves the development, design and execution of the planned deliverables. During the intermediate phase actual work is created and often presented to stakeholders to get signoff. In order for this phase to be a success, you need a range of project management processes. You’ll learn about these management processes in detail in the UCT Advanced Project Management online short course.
  3. Final phase: this phase is the ultimate closure of a project. During this phase, the project manager is required to report on the overall performance of a project to the stakeholders, determining whether it was a success or not.

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2. The project charter

What is the purpose of a project charter?

The project charter is a formal document in which the project’s existence and the project manager’s authority is recognised. It defines the scope of the project as well as its official start date, and serves as a formal record of the project. The project charter will be established during the initiation phase of the project management life cycle.

The project charter includes everything from key project stakeholders, business problems or opportunities, and key performance indicators, to the principles of the “Iron Triangle”. You’ll explore the concept of the Iron Triangle in project planning and project management courses.

Hint: The Iron Triangle of project management is made up of the three defining features of any project. They are; scope – how big is this project and how many stakeholders need to be involved? Timeframe – how long is this project going to take from the initiation phase to the final phase? Cost – how much does the business need to spend in terms of capital and resources?

What influences the project charter?

  • Enterprise environmental factors: These are conditions the project team cannot control but that still affect the project, such as marketplace conditions, organisational culture, standards and structure, government standards and regulations, and industry standards
  • The business case: this is a document that details the business need or reasoning for initiating a project. Find out more about the business case in the next section.

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3. The business case

What is a business case document?

This is a detailed document that compares the costs, benefits and risks of alternative approaches that could address the business need, and provides a business justification for why a certain project is best suited to this task. A business case document would need to be created in the initiation phase of the project management life cycle and would then be used to inform the project charter.

Hint: Not all organisations refer to this as a “business case” but the terminology is not important. The business case can be any document that includes some or all of the aspects covered below.


What are some basic project management principles?

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What makes a good business case document for project management?

  • Consistent: you need to ensure that all issues addressed in proposals pertaining to your project are aligned and that all stakeholders are interested in achieving the same outcomes
  • Measurable: when documenting factors like estimated cost and the number of resources required, you need to ensure that it is quantifiable
  • Accountable: no project can be successful without a responsible executive or project manager. This person will be accountable for all short and long-term benefits
  • Suitable: you need to ensure that your business case is written to suit both the size and scope of the project
  • Focused: your business case needs to be focused on proposed solutions that will have a business or organisation-wide impact and not on the technicalities of the project itself
  • Comprehensive: when writing the business case you need to ensure it can be communicated to a variety of stakeholders, avoiding using overly technical language
  • Honest: you need to ensure your business case is transparent, and that the elements and assertions made can be justified. If they can’t, there should be no business need for your project

Want to find out about more of the tools central to project management?

Back your abilities with the UCT Advanced Project Management Course.

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