Project Management Life Cycle | 5 Important Phases You Need To Know

As a project manager, it is important for you to understand the concept of the project management life cycle and how to harness this knowledge in managing your projects successfully.

Irrespective of the framework or methodology that you decide to use on a project, every project you manage inevitably follows the same life cycle.

The project life cycle is an essential guide to help project managers and their teams to get their projects from the initiation of the project, up to the closing of the project successfully.

Managing projects successfully, especially in complex environments involves a lot of heavy lifting and thinking as projects consist of various tasks and processes so as to meet the requirements of the stakeholders and end-users, and thus create anticipated value.

You also need to use available and relevant tools, software, techniques, and knowledge in order to get the job done and deliver the expected customer value and business value by extension.

Comprehensive knowledge of the project management life cycle, project phases, and process groups will help you to properly organize your projects and increase the viability of the project management from the project initiation to its completion.

Read Also: Decomposition in Project Management

What is the Project Management Life Cycle?

The project management life cycle is a step-by-step framework of best practices that helps you as a project manager to manage projects successfully by taking the projects from conception to completion.

As earlier iterated, no matter the scale or scope of a project, complexities are inherent, and being a proactive project manager will help you anticipate these issues that can arise from project planning to stakeholder requirements that may continuously change.

Knowledge of the project management life cycle and the associated phases will provide steps for the planning, organization, and execution of a hitch-free project.

The project management life cycle helps divide the project into distinct manageable stages or phases. With this done, it is easier for you as a project manager while managing the overall project to focus on the individual phases as each phase has its own goals and deliverables.

Based on the Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), the project management life cycle consists of 5 distinct project phases or stages.

They are the project initiating, planning, execution, monitoring and control, and closure phases. These 5 project phases should help to provide clarity to the following questions.

  • What work needs to be done?
  • Who will be involved in the team to do the work?
  • What are the deliverables of the project?
  • How do you monitor the progress of the project?
  • How do you complete the project and hand over deliverables to the stakeholders and end-users?

phases of the project management life cycle

5 Important Phases of Project Management Life Cycle

The project management life cycle has 5 basic albeit important phases. These are:

  1. Project initiation phase.
  2. Project planning phase.
  3. Project execution phase.
  4. Project monitoring and control phase.
  5. Project closing phase.

These phases encompass the entire life of the project from start to completion, and each phase has its goals, processes, associated deliverables, and tasks.

1. Project Initiating Phase

This is the first phase in the project management life cycle and it is also the beginning of the transformation of abstract ideas into relevant goals.

In this phase, the end goal of the project or the expected business value is fleshed out based on a business need. The feasibility of the project is also assessed during project initiation along with strategies and methodologies to get the desired results.

To officially start the project requires the formation and approval of the project charter. The project charter is a very important project document that makes a project official and gives the project manager authority to use resources for the project.

The project charter contains the following:

  • Business need.
  • High-level project goals and expected benefits.
  • High-level project constraints for the project scope, schedule, and cost.
  • High-level identified project risks.
  • Key shareholders list.
  • Project resources and budget.
  • Assigned Project manager.

During this phase, the following activities are to be done:

1. Perform a Project Feasibility Study

Before starting a project, it is important to check how feasibility and viability of this business endeavor. A project is feasible if it is possible for it to be executed within the project constraints.

Also, the viability is evaluated from different aspects which include economic, operational, legal, regulatory, and technical points of view. Some potential issues could come up, and it is possible to analyze for possible solutions ab initio.

2. Identify Project Scope

Every project has a scope. During project initiation, the high-level project scope is identified. This involves determining high-level project goals, tasks, milestones, and deliverables.

3. Identify Project Stakeholders

The project stakeholders are the people that have an interest, influence, and impact on the project and its outcome.

Early identification of the project stakeholders is key to the success of the project as it enables the gathering of project requirements and having a concise idea of expectations.

4. Develop the Business Case

The purpose of a business case is to justify the undertaking of the project. It evaluates the business opportunity or problem, and the potential benefits, costs, and risks of the project.

The business case is developed during the project initiation phase and reviewed by the project sponsor and stakeholders. A decision will be taken after the review on whether to proceed, revise, defer, or cancel.

Read Also: Kill Point in Project Management

2. Project Planning Phase

Project planning is the second phase of the project management life cycle and it happens to be the longest. Planning a project is akin to laying the roadmap of the project.

Haven defined what needs to be done during the project initiation phase and received approval to proceed, the next thing to do is to define how to do what needs to be done.

The entire work to be done throughout the project life cycle is defined, and the roadmap that the project will follow up to project completion and closing is created. In this phase, the following questions are to be answered:

  • What is to be done?
  • How is it going to be done?
  • When is it going to be done?
  • Who will do it?
  • How is the project completion ascertained and success measured?

These when combined will help in developing a concise and detailed project plan. This plan should detail the essentials related to the project goals and objectives and how exactly these are to be achieved.

These goals should be CLEAR and SMART. CLEAR is an acronym for Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, and Reliable. This is a method of setting goals suited for dynamic and complex business needs that require adaptability and flexibility.

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

Activities in Project Planning Phase

In the project planning phase, there are key activities or steps that should be undertaken.

  • Create the project management plan. The project management plan is the blueprint for the entire project. The project tasks, activities, dependencies, constraints, and risks should be identified and documented. The project management plan is to guide you as a project manager along with your project team to successful achievement of the project objectives as well as organizational goals.
  • Create the resource management plan. This is a document that details the required resources needed to accomplish every aspect of the project. The resource management plan is to provide information on the labor, materials, equipment, personnel, and required skills to plan, manage, and execute the project successfully.
  • Create a cost management plan. The cost or budget for a project is one of the triple constraints in project management. The cost management plan details how the project is to be accomplished within the available project budget, and how the project costs are to be monitored and controlled throughout the project management life cycle.
  • Create a quality management plan. This details and documents the steps to be taken to properly manage the project quality from the planning of the project to its completion. It also documents the criteria, policies, procedures, roles, responsibilities, and authorities for the project quality.
  • Create a risk management plan. A project risk is anything that has the potential to impact the project performance or baseline. When managing projects, risks are inherent and unavoidable. The risk management plan documents how project risks are to be identified, analyzed, managed, and responded to throughout the project management life cycle to ensure the project stays on track and is successfully accomplished.
  • Create a communication management plan. When managing projects, you spend up to 80 percent of your time on communication. It is very important and key to the success of a project to communicate properly with the project stakeholders. The project communication management plan details how information about the project will be communicated to the stakeholders throughout the project life cycle.
  • Create a procurement management plan. This plan documents any project resources categorized into infrastructure, goods, and services that will be acquired. It also documents the processes that will be followed during procurement.
  • Create acceptance and success criteria. It is important to detail what constitutes success for the project and under which criteria the project deliverables will be accepted.

project execution phase

Read Also: Top 5 Ways to Avoid Gold Plating in Project Management

3. Project Execution Phase

This is the phase in which the various planned project tasks, activities, and processes are undertaken and implemented in order to get the desired project deliverables and satisfy stakeholders’ requirements.

The project execution phase entails activities designed to put the project management plan in motion to achieve the project goals and objectives.

People and resources are assigned to various tasks according to the project management plan, and the tasks are executed accordingly.

It is important for you as a project manager to maintain effective stakeholder collaboration while integrating the various parts of the project.

Also, you are expected to manage and organize the project team members, while constantly monitoring the progress of the work done to ensure conformance to the project performance baselines and requirements.

Typical activities during the project execution phase include:

  • Assigning project team and resources to project tasks.
  • Providing motivation and guidance to the project team while working on tasks.
  • Monitoring the progress of the project team and deliverables.
  • Extraction and collation of the project work performance data for performance analysis.
  • Consistent communication with the project stakeholders to ensure requirements are being met.
  • Monitoring for risk triggers and implementing planned risk responses.
  • Monitoring project work for variance and initiating and implementing change requests to keep the project on track.

4. Project Monitoring and Control Phase

This phase is designed to check and ensure that the project work is actually going as planned and it mainly is done simultaneously with the project execution.

It involves measuring the project performance and progress against the performance baselines, and checking that everything is in line with the project management plan.

Work performance data is analyzed to give work performance information. In case of deviations and variances from acceptable performance, corrective action should be initiated as soon as possible to get the project back on track.

5. Project Closing Phase

When every project deliverable has been produced and the project work has been done, it is time to formally close the project.

The project closing phase is the final phase of the project and symbolizes the end of the project and its activities.

Your focus as the project manager in this phase should be on the release and delivery of the project work to the stakeholders and end-users.

Whether the project is successful or not, the activities of this phase are to be done. Along with the project team, the lessons learned from the project are to be documented and archived for future projects.

When the documentation is finalized and the product is delivered to the relevant stakeholders, the project team can be released and the project is said to be officially closed.

David Usifo (PSM, MBCS, PMP®)
David Usifo (PSM, MBCS, PMP®)

David Usifo is a certified project manager professional, professional Scrum Master, and a BCS certified Business Analyst with a background in product development and database management.

He enjoys using his knowledge and skills to share with aspiring and experienced project managers and product developers the core concept of value-creation through adaptive solutions.

Articles: 334

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *