A Short Guide to Understanding Project Execution

Learn about what project execution is, the benefits of streamlining this phase, its process, the challenges associated with it, and how an operations platform can help you execute projects effectively.

a construction project manager overseeing the project e

What is Project Execution?

Project execution is the third step in the holistic project management system. This is where the project is broken down into smaller, more manageable milestones, tasks, and activities that are then assigned to team members, who will accomplish such jobs and work together to reach the project’s end goals. In simple terms, this stage is where the actual work gets done. After the execution phase, monitoring and control and closure come next.

In construction, for example, a Project Execution Plan (PEP) serves as the foundational document that outlines the ways and strategies of executing and monitoring a project, according to the US Department of Energy. Hence, contractors, project managers, and construction workers find this document crucial to keep them guided during the execution phase of a project and for the successful implementation of the guidelines stated therein.

Benefits of Streamlining Your Project Execution Phase

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), a project management system consists of 5 main stages: project initiation, project planning, project execution, project monitoring and control, and project closure. As the execution of the project sits at the heart of the process, the presence of an effective project execution strategy is key to allowing project teams to accomplish their tasks according to plan and within the set timeline.

Hence, an improved system in place throughout the project execution stage helps your team achieve the following benefits and more:

  • Improved team productivity, which can lead to the project being completed on time and according to budget
  • Team-oriented culture, which helps boost overall productivity and work efficiency
  • Maximized resources, which is key to following the project’s estimated budget and timeline
  • Enhanced customer satisfaction, which helps achieve one of the project’s end goals

Moreover, using a project execution checklist also allows you to streamline the process of delegating, implementing, and monitoring tasks and timelines so that everyone stays informed and on board with the project.

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7 Steps of the Project Execution Process

7 Steps of Project Execution

7 Steps of Project Execution

Basically, the expected outputs of this stage include these items:

  • Project scope execution
  • Effective team management
  • Changes, corrective actions, and continuous improvement recommendations
  • Regular communication with stakeholders
  • Project milestones documentation
  • Scheduled and conducted status reviews and progress meetings
  • Project plan changes documentation

In order for the project team to deliver these outputs, the following project execution steps must guide the proper implementation of this project phase:

1. Create tasks.

Based on your project plan, specific tasks must now be created. These must be smaller, actionable ones that are clearly defined. As needed, you can also break your project tasks into sub-tasks to help further streamline the deliverables and how they will be assigned to each respective task owner.

2. Set timelines.

Each task must have set start and finish dates, realistic enough to be achievable. This also helps each task owner be guided on when they must complete their tasks to avoid delays or blockers to the entire project. It also helps to set priorities and establish task dependencies so that everyone is aligned.

3. Assign tasks.

Now that the tasks are well-defined and prioritized, respective team members must now take ownership of their responsibilities. As planned, make sure that key stakeholders and project owners are briefed about the tasks expected to be completed. Necessary resources must also be provided for the team members to execute their tasks effectively.

4. Track and measure progress.

Depending on the nature of the project and the tasks involved in it, progress must be checked regularly—which may mean on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Generating progress reports can help visualize and track progress across the project and spot any concerns needing to be addressed.

Apart from that, encouraging (or even requiring) regular check-ins for updates is also a must to ensure everyone is informed of the project execution status.

5. Communicate.

It’s important to identify the most appropriate communication channels and/or approaches to help keep everyone in the loop. For any type of communication, specific channels must be assigned for proper dissemination.

Also, having regular meetings and real-time updates is crucial, most especially to the project manager as the one who oversees the overall implementation of day-to-day tasks.

6. Engage with stakeholders.

The project’s stakeholders must have visibility into relevant data, updates, and other forms of information critical to project execution. This should be seen as a way to let everyone involved stay engaged and feel that their contributions are impactful to the success of the project.

7. Schedule changes.

To better accommodate the project plan, changes may be inevitable during the execution stage. Whether the stakeholders will have additional requirements, the team members will identify additional tasks to be completed, and so on, it’s important to put some flexibility into this stage to effectively schedule and account for such changes.

For these, the project manager must ensure everyone understands the necessary changes and oversee how they will be assigned to team members. Following these, realistic timelines must be set, and everyone must be kept updated along the way.


Here are some examples of challenges that project teams can encounter in each aspect of the project execution phase:

  • Strategy – when there are execution gaps, wherein the vision or plan for the project doesn’t exactly meet or align with the reality of the project’s day-to-day implementation
  • People – when there’s a lack of leadership and accountability, which can jeopardize the project’s timeline and/or project quality
  • Communication – when the people involved aren’t engaged and empowered enough to give progress updates and communicate concerns or blockers
Patricia Guevara
Article by
Patricia Guevara
Patricia Guevara is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture. With her extensive content writing and copywriting experience, she creates high-quality content across a variety of relevant topics. She aims to promote workplace safety, operational excellence, and continuous improvement in her articles. She is passionate about communicating how technology can be used to streamline work processes, empowering companies to realize their business goals.