The 5 Stages of Project Management as Phases of the Moon

The 5 Stages of Project Management as Phases of the Moon

What a coincidence! Just as there are five stages of project management, there are five phases of the full moon — each of which can dictate how, when, and why we make certain decisions. (Yes, technically, there are eight phases of the moon, but we’re stopping at the fifth stage — the full moon — for the purpose of this piece. Also, it’s better than the five stages of grief, which was our next option.)

Basically, the five stages of project management can help provide much-needed structure for PMs, who often juggle many different tasks at once. By planning projects based on these stages, PMs can build more efficient processes, allocate resources, and optimize results.

So, are you looking for better ways to bring your projects full-circle? Then you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a quick breakdown of PM stages according to phases of the moon:

1. New moon: Initiation

A new moon occurs every 29.5 days, or about once a month. This is when the moon is positioned directly between the Earth and the sun, and we can’t actually see it. At this time, the forces of the universe are regrouping and preparing to make the moon visible to us again.

For project managers, this is the initiation phase — that time of raw potential, when things aren’t quite set in motion yet. This is when you start developing the idea for a new project based on a specific problem or need.

You might also use this phase to develop documentation like a project charter, which could include:

  • Project name
  • Project manager
  • Project goals
  • Project milestones
  • Project risks

Provided the project is authorized, you can move onto the second stage…

2. Waxing crescent: Planning

Now, we’re gaining some momentum. The moon continues to orbit the Earth each day, slowly revealing more of its surface to us. 

In the PM world, managers can start planning their projects and hammering out key details like:

  • Timeline
  • Tasks
  • Communications plan
  • Workflow
  • Team members and collaborators
  • Budget and costs
  • Resource allocation
  • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

3. First quarter: Execution

The third phase is the quarter moon phase, when — somewhat confusingly — half of the moon’s face is illuminated. The moon is easier to see than ever and well on its way to being full.

For project managers, this is when the actual execution happens. Tasks are being completed, collaborators are communicating, stakeholders are being updated, and teams are moving full speed ahead on their workflows.

4. Waxing gibbous: Monitoring and control

At this point, more than half of the moon is visible — and project managers are more than halfway towards reaching their business goals. The moon is almost fully illuminated, but just needs a bit more momentum to reach that final stage.

Technically, for PMs, this monitoring and control period occurs simultaneously with execution. As the project evolves, PMs need to be tracking progress in real time and adapting to unexpected changes. This stage is often overlooked but is crucial to success.

Timelines shift. Budgets fluctuate. Priorities vary. Risks emerge. With an adaptive project management tool, PMs can expertly navigate these changing tides and stay on track towards their goals.

5. Full moon: Closure

Finally! That big, beautiful moon is fully visible in the night sky. And PMs can close out their projects, having achieved a final outcome. Ideally, that outcome includes a completed deliverable. However, projects can close for many different reasons. They can be canceled, transferred to a different department, or paused and reworked.

Either way, there needs to be some sort of project closure and post-mortem. This usually involves:

  • Completing contracts and releasing resources
  • Analyzing results for lessons and best practices
  • Storing documentation for future reference 
  • Conducting performance evaluations 
  • Identifying ways to test and optimize project processes going forward

Of course, once the project closes, you can always regroup and start preparing for the next initiation stage — when the new moon rises again and a fresh project idea emerges, ready to take shape.

Ready to streamline the five stages of your project management operation? Book a demo with Proggio.

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