The Project Life Cycle

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Projects of any size, large or small, can be managed using the project management methodology. Because all projects are unique in some way, it might be helpful to look at the life cycle or phases of projects and note the many similarities between projects and that all projects go through similar phases. The project life cycle defines the beginning and the end of a project and various phases within it. At various points in the project life cycle the project is reevaluated and a decision is made whether to go forward with the project or to stop work on it. The points between the beginning and the end of the project vary considerably depending on the type of business and the specific project being done. The definition of specific phases will differ greatly from organization to organization with most organizations defining their own phases. Most often a phase's completion is marked by some sort of management review and a decision to move into the next phase. This is not always the case since phases will overlap especially when ''fast tracking'' a project.

During the life cycle of a project there will be accomplishments made at each phase. The completion of these accomplishments results in the creation of a ''deliverable,'' a tangible verifiable product of the work being done on the project. These may be products that are delivered external to the project or something needed for other project work to take place, which are considered to be ''internal deliverables.''

If we consider the project life cycle as having at least three phases—an initial phase, a final phase, and one or more intermediate phases—we see that projects share many characteristics.

PMI describes the project management processes as the initiating processes, planning processes, executing processes, controlling processes, and closing processes. These processes are repeated over and over in each phase of the project life cycle.

As can be seen in Figure I-2, in a project's initial phase, cost and staffing levels are low. There are only a few key people who spend their time on the project at this point. Few if any materials have been purchased, and the company's financial commitment is not great. At this phase there is the greatest chance that the project will never be completed. Many projects reach this phase only to be discontinued when it is determined that the cost of doing the project meets or exceeds the benefits received from doing the project. At this phase of the project there is little known about the project.

As the project moves into the second phase the rate of spending increases for the project. This is a result of having more people working a greater amount of time on the project. At this time the cost of changes and the impact of the risks increases as well, since it will take more effort and time to make corrections.

At some point the project's rate of spending begins to decrease. This is because some of the people on the project team have completed their work and are moving on to other projects. Much of the material and equipment has been purchased. From this point on the project will spend less and less.

Figure I-2.Typical daily cost of projects during project phases.


Production and Controlling

Development and Planning





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0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Duration of the Project

At the final phase of the project it is important that the project manager make a transition of the stakeholders, changing from the project team to an ongoing maintenance and support group. If this is not done the good relationship that the project team has with the stakeholders will come back to haunt the team members. Stakeholders have enjoyed working with the project team and are familiar with the members of the team and what they do. The team members have not moved to other projects and will spend much of their time working with previous project stakeholders. This can be difficult if the stakeholders are major customers or our own upper management.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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