Five stage project approach

What is it?

The five-stage project approach is a step-by-step process for managing improvement projects.

When to use it

It is used to manage all quality improvement projects and can usefully be applied to all other types of projects.

What does it achieve?

When quality improvement projects are run in accordance with this approach, it:

  • Provides a common set of concepts and terminology
  • Links in with training and support material
  • Builds on business quality processes
  • Incorporates lessons from experiences
  • Provides an approach designed to maximize the scope for innovation and creativity of solution, hence the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Key steps

Stage 1 –Improvement proposal


  • Clear ownership
  • Succinct and clear statement of problem
  • Succinct and clear statement of requirements and objective(s)
  • Measurements
  • Targets/milestones
  • Plan of communication and training needs
  • Seek approval

Stage 2 – Problem analysis and planning


  • Root causes
  • Possible solutions
  • Selected solution(s)
  • Sub projects
  • Costs and benefits
  • Resource requirements
  • Planned actions and stages
  • Measurements
  • Report progress

Stage 3 – Education and communication


  • Understanding and involvement of all those affected
  • Identify who, what, why, where, when, and how.

Stage 4 – Detailed implementation plans

  • Action plans
  • Commitment and involvement
  • Report progress

Stage 5 – Implementation

  • Do
  • Measure
  • Assess
  • Report progress