The project life cycle

Most people appreciate that a project should have a clear start and end, but it also requires structure around what happens between these points. Figure 8.1 shows the life cycle used throughout this book to describe the key deliverables and approval points.

There is an important point to make before considering this life cycle in more detail. Figure 8.1 shows the progression of an idea (described in the project outline) to the realisation of the forecast benefits (described in the benefits realisation report). However, only the initiation, delivery and completion stages fall within the life of the project. It is during these stages that the portfolio management team (or, in their absence, the company's senior management team) have delegated project ownership to the project steering group. They are responsible for steering the project to a successful conclusion so that the benefits will be realised when the main deliverable is used in earnest. During identification and benefits realisation, the project should be firmly in the hands of the wider business. In practice, initiation sees the project handed over from the portfolio management team to the project steering group, so it is normal for a period of transition to exist while the management environment emerges.

Once the project outline has been approved, the idea of a project is now on the roster and a budget has been set aside for its initiation. Ideally, a strict order should be imposed on the activities taking place during initiation; however, most organisations have their own approach to handling budgets, committing resources and decision-making, so it is more useful to consider the outcomes expected from initiation.

A common claim during the initiation stage is that there are too many unknowns to enable the business case and a project governance report to be created. This is a strange argument since the purpose of the initiation stage is to resolve the unknowns. The planning process must resolve as many unknowns as is possible so that the project steering group is clear about the risks. So although it is a difficult stage, it is the only opportunity to develop effectively the project's management environment.

The success of this stage can be judged against the following criteria:

e Is there a well-balanced project steering group? e Has a project manager been identified and recruited? e Does the business case propose an acceptable margin between costs and benefits? e Have the customer's requirements been clearly and fully articulated? e Does the solution design document address the customer's requirements?

e Does the project governance report, including the project plan, show how it will meet the targets set out in the business case? e Have all products from this stage been approved by the appropriate authorities?

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.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment