The 5 Stages of Project Management

Stage 1: Initiation

The initiation stage of a project involves everything that needs to happen to get a project started—from deciding if the project is the right fit, to signing the contracts necessary to get going.

In a construction project, the initiation stage is part of pre-construction. And in a typical design-bid-build delivery model, the first step in initiating a project is responding to a request for proposal, or RFP.

But before you spend the time, energy, and money it takes to respond to an RFP, you need to evaluate whether or not the project makes sense for your company.

Here are some questions you and other company stakeholders should ask before placing a bid:

  • Is the value of the project worth our time?
  • Are our services a fit for the client’s needs?
  • Do our other jobs leave room for us to take this project?
  • Do we have the resources we need to do a good job?


If the answer to any of these questions is no, then don’t proceed. But if you can answer yes to all of them, you should start drafting a proposal.

And if you want to create a winning bid, you’ll need to do quite a bit of pre-planning.

Your proposal should include an overview of how you’ll manage the project. It should include a list of the project’s stakeholders as well as the project’s scope and deliverables. You’ll also want to include a risk assessment, a list of estimated costs, and a start and end date.

Then, when you’ve won the bid, you can negotiate a contract. And once it’s signed, the initiation process is over.

But it isn’t time to jump straight into the construction phase of your project just yet.

Instead, you’ll need to move to stage two of project management, which is creating an even more detailed plan.

But before we move on, let’s review the steps to take during initiation.


Checklist for Initiating a Construction Project


  • Evaluate RFP’s 
    • Is the value of the project worth our time?
    • Are our services a fit for the client’s needs?
    • Do our other jobs leave room for us to take this project?
    • Do we have the resources we need to do a good job?


  • Draft a proposal
    • Define scope of work
    • Define project deliverables
    • List all stakeholders
    • Define start date
    • Define delivery date
    • Include a risk assessment
    • Outline a risk mitigation plan
    • Estimate fees and costs
    • Place competitive bid


  • Negotiate the contract 
    • Define payment terms
    • Double-check that proposal and contract terms correspond
    • Re-negotiate clauses that don’t split risks evenly
    • Include how to manage change orders


  • Sign the contract 


Stage 2: Planning

In construction project management, the initiation and planning stages often overlap because planning starts when a proposal is being drafted.

But planning doesn’t stop after the proposal is accepted.

While the scope of the project, proposed budget, quality control plans, and risk assessments are included in the bid, more detailed plans should be completed once the project is won.

And you will use the bid proposal and contract agreement to inform these plans.

These plans will be the roadmap that guides all the action during the construction phase of a project. They will break down work structures, nail down schedules, and outline procurement plans.

Checklist for Detailed Planning of Construction Project:


  • Define what success looks like 
    • Profitability
    • Customer satisfaction
    • Employee/Sub satisfaction
  • Detail budget 
    • Include contingency allowances
    • Include hard costs
    • Include soft costs
    • Create cash flow chart
    • Create cost control plan
  • Breakdown work structure 
    • Detail project scope
    • List deliverables
    • Break work into small chunks
    • Lay out on-site logistics
  • Create schedules 
    • Outline critical path
    • Decide how to stack trades
  • Create communication plans 
    • Compile a personnel list with names, jobs, and contact information
    • Set preferred communication method(s)
    • Establish frequency of stakeholder meetings
    • Establish frequency of on-site meetings
  • Create procurement plans 
    • Vet and choose vendors and subs
    • Source equipment
    • List items to order early because of backlogs, etc
    • Create inventory management plans
  • Create a site safety plan

    • Assess hazards
    • Create site specific safety program
    • Define safety rules and disciplinary actions

Stage 3: Execution

The execution stage is where the work gets done, aka the construction phase of a project.

During the construction phase, you’ll spend less time planning and more time making sure plans are carried out. So the execution stage goes hand in hand with the controlling stage of construction management.

Stage 4: Controlling

During the controlling stage, you’ll be monitoring the project’s progress.

If the project starts going off course, take corrective action to keep the project within scope, costs within budget, and schedules on time.


Checklist for Executing and Controlling the Construction Project:


  • Keep daily activity, work, and safety logs 
  • Monitor and manage change orders
  • Monitor materials use 
  • Monitor who comes on and off the site 
  • Monitor equipment 
  • Monitor costs vs. cash flow 
    • Make sure client payments are on time
    • Make sure subs are paid on time
    • Track all expenses


Stage 5: Closing

The closing stage of a construction project involves everything that needs to happen to finish work and deliver the project.

This stage usually starts when a project has reached substantial completion. And it isn’t officially finished until the client has paid and an end-of-project review has been done.


Checklist for Closing Out the Project:


  • Finish Punch List 
  • Get final inspections 
  • Double-check your work represents what was agreed to in the contract 
  • Meet with owner to review satisfaction 
  • Obtain a certificate of completion 
  • Hand over schematics, operation manuals, utilities instructions, and keys 
  • Invoice owner for remainder of fees 
  • Make sure all subs and vendors are paid in full 
  • Make sure all rented equipment is returned in good condition 
  • Make final budget report 
  • Make sure all documentation is filed properly for future review 
  • Do an end-of-project review to assess the project’s successes/failures 

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It takes a great deal of forethought to plan and run an efficient project. Hopefully, this construction project checklist will help you consistently deliver high quality work—on time and under budget.