Concept of the Project Lifecycle
The project lifecycle is a sequence of stages that a project goes through from inception to completion. It’s a framework that guides the project management process, providing structure and a roadmap for project execution. The project lifecycle typically consists of five phases: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closure. Each phase or stage has its own distinct set of activities and deliverables that contribute to the overall progress and achievement of the project’s objectives. Understanding the project lifecycle is crucial for project managers, as it helps them manage the project effectively, anticipate challenges, and ensure the project is completed on time and within budget.
5 Project Management Phases:
The PMBOK Guide’s traditional project management methodology, often referred to as Waterfall, outlines five distinct project management phases. Each of the project management steps is distinct and must be executed for the project to succeed.
- Initiation: The formation of the project itself, this is where the project management steps are put into place.
- Planning: The creation of the plan based on the activities started during the initiation phase.
- Execution: All resources are allocated, personnel put into place, and the plan is put into motion.
- Control & Monitoring: While similar to execution, this is the phase that keeps the project moving forward despite potential obstacles.
- Closure: Here, the project closes with all the pieces of the plan fully completed.
The project lifecycle provides a structured process, ensuring that the project is well-planned, executed effectively, monitored constantly, and closed appropriately, thereby maximizing the chances of meeting the project’s goals. Below is the series of project management phases, a project undergoes from the initiation phase of the project till its completion.
Two major activities take place during this step, the creation of the business case document to justify the project and a feasibility study to ensure that the timeline, costs, and goals are set. If the project is deemed unjustifiable, too expensive, or too time-consuming, it can be abandoned with little cost at this point.
Here, the team puts together a plan that will guide them to financing, obtaining resources, getting the right materials, cost management of a project, planning the project quality, and allocating human resources to the completion of the project. The creation of the plan will also anticipate potential risks and communicate to stakeholders the benefits of completing the project.
This is the phase in which most people can see business project management at work. The activities start with completing each step of the plan in order. Team leaders will guide the employees in the execution of the plan and start the next step only when ready.
Phase-4: Control & Monitoring:
Here, the activities are focused on preventing or at least limiting outside factors that may slow down a project. For example, when constructing a building factors such as weather, delays in getting supplies, or a slowing down of the work rate are addressed as quickly as possible.
At this step, the activities focus on completing each step of the plan. This means evaluating the current state of the project, addressing any concerns, and bringing it to a close. Evaluation and documentation are critical.
Project Management Phases in Agile and Prince 2
Let’s now delve into the project management phases within Agile and PRINCE2 methodologies.
4 Project Management Phases in Agile:
In Agile methodology, project management is broken down into four essential phases:
- Envision Phase: In this initial phase, the project vision is established, and initial user stories are identified.
- Speculate Phase: Next, the project team speculates, or plans the release and iteration based on the project vision and user stories.
- Explore Phase: During this phase, the team develops and delivers the system features as per the user stories.
- Adapt Phase: Finally, the team reviews and adjusts the project plan and practices based on the results of the exploration phase.
7 Project Management Phases in Prince 2:
On the other hand, the PRINCE2 methodology comprises seven phases:
- Starting up a Project: This is the pre-project stage where the project’s viability is checked.
- Initiating a Project: Here, the project approach is defined, and a detailed project plan is developed.
- Directing a Project: This phase involves the project board overseeing the project.
- Controlling a Stage: During this phase, project managers oversee individual project stages.
- Managing Product Delivery: This phase focuses on managing the creation and delivery of project products.
- Managing a Stage Boundary: Here, the project board reviews and approves the completion of a project stage.
- Closing a Project: Finally, the project is formally closed, and a review is conducted to identify lessons learned.
Understanding these phases in both Prince 2 and Agile methodology enables project managers to select and apply the most suitable approach based on the project’s unique needs and constraints.
Examples of Project Management Steps
Various project management methodologies use different names for the phases in a project’s lifecycle. It’s important to note that regardless of the methodology used, all projects go through similar stages, as these are essential for their smooth execution.
1st EXAMPLE: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY
In the realm of Information Technology (IT), let’s consider the development of a new software application.
- The Initiation Phase commences when the need for a new application is identified, and preliminary objectives are defined.
- Moving onto the Planning Phase, a detailed roadmap is created, encompassing design specifications, resource allocation, and a timeline.
- Next, during the Execution Phase, the actual coding and testing of the application take place, following the roadmap outlined earlier.
- Concurrently, in the Monitoring and Controlling Phase, project managers supervise the development process, ensuring adherence to the plan and making necessary adjustments.
- Finally, the Closure Phase is ushered in once the application is successfully developed and deployed, during which feedback is sought, the project’s success is assessed, and the team’s efforts are recognized.
2nd EXAMPLE: CONSTRUCTION
In a contrasting industry, Construction, let’s illustrate these phases with a building project.
- Initially, in the Initiation Phase, the need for a new building is recognized, and fundamental plans like location and purpose are determined.
- With the commencement of the Planning Phase, detailed blueprints are developed, resources are allocated, and a construction timeline is established.
- Then, in the Execution Phase, actual construction activities begin, following the plans created earlier.
- Meanwhile, the Monitoring and Controlling Phase runs parallel, where project managers track progress, ensure compliance with the blueprint and schedule, and make any required adjustments.
- Finally, the project culminates with the Closure Phase, where the completed building is evaluated, feedback is gathered, learned lessons are recorded, and the project team’s work is acknowledged.
Why Are Project Phases Important?
Project phases are integral to effective project management for several reasons:
1. CLARITY AND DIRECTION
They provide a clear roadmap, outlining the path from project initiation to closure. This enables all stakeholders to understand what needs to be done, when, and by whom, thereby ensuring everyone is on the same page.
2. CONTROLLED PROGRESS
Project management steps allow for controlled progression. Each phase serves as a checkpoint ensuring that everything is going as planned before progressing to the next stage. This reduces the risk of project failure and helps maintain the project’s scope, budget, and timeline.
3. EFFICEINT RESOURCE MANAGEMENT
They facilitate better allocation and management of resources. By clearly defining tasks and deliverables for each phase, project managers can allocate resources more effectively, preventing waste and improving productivity.
4. IMPROVED RISK MANAGEMENT
Project phases assist in identifying and managing potential risks. With each stage of completion, the project’s risk profile changes, allowing for proactive risk management and mitigation.
5. LEARNING AND IMPROVEMENT
The structured approach provided by project phases allows for continuous learning and improvement. Lessons learned in one phase can be applied to subsequent phases, increasing the chances of project success.
Diverse Learning Opportunities in Project Management
The project management academy offers a comprehensive array of programs for learning and advancement in this field. Opportunities range from a project management degree for those seeking a foundational understanding, and a PhD in project management online for individuals aiming for in-depth mastery and research. They also offer a diploma in project management online designed for those looking for a flexible learning experience. Additionally, they provide a project management certificate for professionals looking to enhance their skills or validate their knowledge in the industry. Lastly, the Academy offers a CPM (Certified Project Manager) certificate program, a credential that adds significant value to a project manager’s profile.
In closing, the pivotal role the five phases of project management play in the success of a project cannot be overstated.
- Commencing with the project initiation phase, the groundwork is laid for the entire project. It’s here that the project charter is drawn up, setting the tone for the entire journey. During this phase, the project team is assembled and key stakeholders define the project in detail.
- Next, the planning phase management plan comes into play, where meticulous strategies for executing, monitoring, and controlling the project are established. This phase ensures that the project management process aligns with the management body of knowledge, setting the project up for success.
- The project then progresses into the executing phase, where the plans are put into action using project management software.
- This is followed by the monitoring and controlling phase, ensuring the project remains within the budget, timeline, and scope defined during the initiation and planning stages.
- The culmination of the phases initiating, planning, and executing is the project closure phase. It is here that the project team evaluates the overall project, learning valuable lessons that can be applied to future projects.
In essence, each step in the project management body plays a distinctive role in guiding the project from conception to completion, ensuring the utmost efficiency and effectiveness in meeting project objectives. This cyclical process allows for continuous improvement, enhancing the overall practice of project management.