A Complete Guide to Project Management LifeCycle


Be it working on large projects with difficult goals or initiating a small project with modest goals; it is important to understand the whole project management lifecycle.

As every project includes a certain set of milestones at the beginning, in the mid, and at the end, wherein the path is followed from initiation to completion to evaluation.

We’ll give you a complete guide on the project management lifecycle that will help you manage your projects from start to finish.  

The whole process of project management might seem daunting to some of you, but with a few basic project management steps, you’ll finish all the tasks in the right manner and at the right time.

You always have to keep in mind that you need to follow the series of logical phases to finish the project as per the guidelines series and quality standards.

The overview of Project Management Lifecycle

The project management lifecycle is essentially a high-level way of delivering project targets or objectives — no matter whatever the dimensions or difficulty level of the project is, the mapping of every project must be done as per the given project lifecycle structure.

The lifecycle of the project from start to end is similar to an individual life process- which involves the birth, maturity, and death. So, it’s a defacto standard of project management delivery.

Different agencies may use different terms to define the phases of project management lifecycle, but practically they all are pretty similar.

According to PMI- the Project Management Institute, for every $1 invested by companies in projects in the United States, $122 million was wasted because of the lack in project performance. So, as 47% of the projects become unsuccessful due to communication breakdown, effective project management is always necessary to prevent the wastage of money and resources.

This is where the role of five project management phases by Project Management Institute comes into play. Started in 1969, PMI is a world’s largest non-profit membership association for the project program and portfolio management of project management profession.

The Project Management Professional (PMP) ® certification is the gold standard of accreditation from the association.

This article will cover each of the five phases in detail with some bonus tips to boost the rate of success at each step.

project management lifecycle


The five project management process groups, which combines to form the project management lifecycle is as follows:

The Concept of Project Lifecycle Management

When it comes to the discussion of project management phases, it is inevitable to mention the project lifecycle. The project phases come together to make up a project lifecycle, and these phases are customized according to the needs of the project. The project lifecycle should define the following elements:

  • The work targets required to be achieved
  • The deliverables to be generated & reviewed
  • The person to be involved
  • The controlling and approval of each phase

It is important to determine all these elements to take a project from start to finish. This helps in a timely, systematic, and controlled process that provides benefits to stakeholders of the project. It is of great help to project managers in defining what targets are needed to achieve before moving onto the next project phase.

That said, below are the five project management phases and processes that’ll simplify and speed up your efforts.

Five stages of project management lifecycle

Phase 1: Conception and Initiation

The conception and initiation is the first phase of project management lifecycle, which defines the project at a broad level. It helps to identify the client’s business need, opportunity and brainstorming ways to start the project. The ultimate purpose of this project is to identify what the project should accomplish in order to be successful.

That generally necessitates identifying the project stakeholders and ensuring they will have due diligence to decide if the project is good to go. They need to agree on the business case and the problem that the project will solve. During this step, you decide whether it’s feasible to deliver the business case.

Here are the critical project management steps for the project initiation phase:

  • Developing a project charter- Creating a project charter involves defining the elements like projects goal, vision, objectives, high-level schedule, and budget, assigning a project manager, project problems, stakeholders list, milestones, and approvals.
  • However, the inputs for creating a project will comprise the business case, enterprise environment factor, agreements, business case, organizational process assets and project statement of work. The project charter allows a project manager to make use of organizational resources for the sake of the project completion.
  • Undertaking a feasibility study- It first identifies the fundamental problem your project will solve and see whether your project solution is capable of solving that problem.
  • Identifying scope and deliverables- It defines the product and service on a broader level, along with the illustration of depth and breadth of the project.
  • Indicating the high-level cost and developing the business case- Based on the above criterions, it requires you to compare the potential costs and see whether there is a benefit in moving the project forward.
  • Identifying the project stakeholders- As stakeholder has the influential power to dive the success and failure of the project. A stakeholder register is used to include all the details of stakeholder, including the type of stakeholder, the expectation of stakeholder, the role of business analyst, tech architect, client PM, and others, kind of communication(weekly or monthly) and influence of the project (partial, supportive or influensive).

You’ll also develop a PID (project initiation document), which may include the flowcharts of the basic project lifecycle.

Each and every detail regarding the project works as an input in the Project Charter and Stakeholder Register, and after the approval of the project charter, the project receives the official authorization.

Takeaway: Don’t get too much into the technical requirements when creating a PID, because that will be clearly defined and clarified

Phase 2: Planning

The project management is a key to successful project management, which focuses on creating a roadmap that everyone will follow. It determines both the scope and objective of the project while covering almost 50 percent of the entire process.

Getting this process wrong will make scupper your chances of delivering the project on time and budget. The process begins with defining all the work required to complete your project and get you there.

This is the phase wherein you’ll figure out how you’ll perform and execute the project and what you and your team is going to do, how you are going to achieve it, how soon it will be done and how you’ll when you’re done.

During this point, you break down the large project into the smaller task and then decide the goals, while evaluating them as per three P’s criteria’s: Possible, Passionate and Persistent.

  • Possible is something that is achievable. You should see if the solution fits your budget and will your team have the ability to handle this. Also, make sure you have enough time to finish the project. Do not set unrealistic goals, because if you do this, you’re preparing yourself up for failure.
  • As often projects are tough, you should have a team that stays engaged while working on the project. So, always check if it is a project you and your team are passionate about. The project should be like that is able to bring everyone together to collaborate so as to achieve the same goal. Or else, nobody would love to work or invest in something that’s totally worthless.
  • Make sure the project and the solution you have has the potential to create a groundbreaking success. The solution of the problem should be complete and must solve it permanently not impartially. Or see whether the problem holds the potential for improvement.

CLEAR goals are better than SMART goals. Because setting CLEAR goals has the power to lead you towards real success and achieving what you and your team are aiming for. Let’s explain how it works or helps:

It’s a new and helpful framework that takes into consideration your goals are collaborative (encouraging or fostering the environment to work together), limited (limiting in scope and time to manage it efficiently), emotional (optimizing the quality of work by tapping into the passion of employees), appreciable (breakdown of larger goals into smaller ones) and refinable (being flexible). The CLEAR goals are somewhat similar to three P’s criteria described above.

A typical project management plan will outline all the roles and responsibilities so that the team can work depending on a series of timelines and resources. Additionally, it’s good to develop a plan for quality, resources, risk, acceptance criteria and procurement.

Here are the critical project management steps for planning phase:

  • Creating a general project plan- It involves defining the project planning process, including the stages, activities and possible constraints.
  • Project planning also includes scheduling and creating a project timeline with a Work Breakdown Schedule and Gantt chart. The work Breakdown Schedule is a visual representation, which breaks down the project scope into manageable sections for the team, while Gantt chart is a visual timeline that can help carry out tasks planning to visualize the timeline of your project.
  • Estimating budget and developing a financial plan- Create cost estimates and a project budget to determine to determine a plan that helps you get maximum return on investment.
  • Collecting resources- It includes building your great team with the help of internal and external talent pools. This step also ensures that everyone has the required tools to complete their tasks and deliver the project.
  • Anticipating potential quality roadblocks and risks involved- Identify the possible issues, assumptions, and dependencies that may put a halt to your project and create a mitigation plan to overcome those risks and maintain timeline and quality of the project.
  • Creating a procurement plan- You should find any third party suppliers that agree to the terms. This will come together into a project statement of work, which defines the parameters for project approval.

Takeaway:

When creating any document in the planning phase, avoid taking time consuming work packages and make sure to bring the team on board for a kickoff meeting regarding the project. Then get the input and team member’s perspectives about their assigned tasks.

Phase 3: Execution

This is the most crucial phase of your whole project management lifecycle. You may envisage this step as a result of the planning stage, as it relies mostly on what you pick to do when working on the project’s development. It typically begins, when you receive the business approval and have built your team.

Execution phase is about turning your plan into action. The job of PM in this project phase of project management lifecycle is organizing team members, keeping work on the track, managing project timelines and ensuring the work is complete as per the original plan.

During this phase, there may be a need of re-baselining and updating the existing requirements. It is during this point that you need to avoid making mistakes and begin implementing the decisions that were taken previously. This is why this stage is also called the project implementation stage.

The fundamental goal of this phase is to prepare deliverables and motivate your team to finish the assigned activities on time for delivering the final project.

Here are some vital project management steps for project execution phase:

  • Defining tasks and organizing workflows- The execution phase requires you to assign team members with the granular aspects of the projects, ensuring that the team members are not overburdened.
  • Explaining the team members about the tasks- This step is to brief the team members on the tasks, along with the necessary guidance about organizing and completing the process. Make sure the team is clear about the tasks requirements and the given timeline.
  • Communicating and managing clients- You need to work with the client and stakeholders to ensure they receive regular updates and resulting deliverables are accepted. Update the right people at the right using the right channel is crucial.
  • Monitoring the work quality- This requires you to see whether the team members are on track of meeting quality goals and deadlines.
  • Managing the budget- You need to monitor about where the spending’s going for making sure that the project is on track in terms of resources and assets.

And if the proper documentation is already in place, the execution of the project will become much more accessible.

Takeaway:

Try to use the cloud-based management software that allows team members to update their task status in real time.

Phase 4: Monitoring and controlling

The project monitoring and controlling is all about measuring the progression and performance of the project to ensure everything is in alignment with the project management plan. And if not so, you need to frame out the solutions to make it get back on track.

This step goes in parallel with the project execution and your role as a project manager will include reporting the performance, and monitoring and controlling the project.

A project manager will perhaps choose two to five of these KPIs for measuring the project performance.

  • Objectives of the project- Measure your project objectives to check if the project is going as per schedule and budget. This is an indication if the project is capable enough to meet the objectives of stakeholders.
  • Quality deliverables- It helps in identifying if the project is meeting the specific task deliverables.
  • Effort and cost tracking- The project manager will calculate the effort and cost of resources to analyze if the project is going according to budget.
  • Performance of the project- Project performance takes into consideration the type of issues that may happen due to unexpected hurdles and the change of scope. This step particularly monitors the project changes and addressing them quickly.

At this stage, project managers may need to vary the schedule and resources for ensuring the project remains on the track.

Here are the vital project management steps for monitoring and controlling phase:

  • Managing costs and timeThis comprises of reviewing expenses and timesheets for the purpose of recording, controlling and tracking against the budget, task, and timeline of the project.
  • Reviewing the quality- You need to manage the deliverables of the project to make sure they are up to the defined criteria of acceptance.
  • Managing the acceptance- In this step, try to undergo a user acceptance testing to create a review system that helps you to meet need and deliverables of the client.
  • Managing the change- If the project is not going according to plan, you have to manage the process of acceptable changes in synchronization with the client to check whether or not they are satisfied with the necessary changes.

Takeaway:

Do not forget to review the business case at the end of each phase so that you can make any adjustments on time if needed.

Phase 5: Project closure

Project closure represents the completion of the project. In the closure phase, the project is essentially over. At this point, the role of a project manager is to release project resources, provide final deliverables and determine the project success.

The completion of the project doesn’t mean that your job as a PM is over yet, there are still so many things to do like evaluating what is accomplished and what are the failures in the project. Also, PM often needs to hold a meeting post project to discuss how to improve in the future.

It gives an excellent opportunity to acknowledge the valuable team members who worked really hard to finish the project successfully.  Basically, there are three closure activities in a project, which are as follows:

  • Product closure- If the product is external, there is a need to have the customer accept the final deliverables.
  • Project closure- It includes formal closing with the closure of administrative procedures, project documents update and database and documents archival.
  • Resource closure behind the project- Every resource assigned during the project should be returned during the final closure.

Here are the critical project management steps for project closure phase:

  • Analyzing the performance of project- You need to take an overall look at whether the goals of the project were met and if the initial costs and estimates are accurate. Plus, make a checklist to see if the initial problem is solved. Were there any unforeseen risks or issues? Does the project saw any changes? If yes, then how?
  • Analyzing the performance of the team- You have to evaluate the performance of your team members on the basis of these questions like did your team do what it was assigned to? Was your time passionate and motivated in doing their task? Was their healthy and constructive communication within the organization?
  • Closing the Project- To give the project life an official end, there is a need to document all the tasks, including the signing of contracts, closure of supplier agreements and dealing with the necessary project documentation.
  • Conducting the post-implementation- Make a punch list to pen down the analysis of success and failure, and the consequent lessons you and your team learned. As you know, with every successful project, there always remains a room for improvement.
  • Procuring the closure- The conception and initiation, planning, executing, performance monitoring, and controlling & closing, there is always one process of procurement. The final closing procurement is achieved on the basis of the contract between the seller and the buyer.
  • Accounting for used and unused budget- If some resources were left unused in the project, you could allocate those resources for the future projects.

If you remain on the task even after the completion of the project, you’ll be able to take everything you have learned and can implement that in your future projects.

Takeaway:

Once again, cloud-based software solution comes as a great rescue. It is a simple way to save and collect all the project documents in one place throughout the life of the project.


















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