The project life cycle is a process used by project managers to successfully complete a project. This life cycle provides a project plan and structure for executing any project plan.
Project success is achieved by the standard four-phase process of the project life cycle. The goal of project managers and their teams is to complete the project’s objective.
Each project has a beginning, then several phases of development, and a successful or unsuccessful ending. We can also evaluate the project scope from this methodology.
Project activity is based on its kind i.e. a simple project has fewer activities and a complex project may have thousands of activities. This project life cycle model is applicable to many types of project schemes even if the projects have different characteristics.
Different projects have different costs and duration but all the projects will have a life cycle. A life cycle generally defines the phases of a project which are related to each other. The project life cycle also provides a structure for guiding the progression while working on a project.
Phases Project Management Life Cycle (PMBOK)
A standard project life cycle has four phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closure.
The Project Initiation Phase is the first phase in the project life cycle and it is the starting of a new project. First, you define the objectives of a project and what is the output you will produce.
The project initiation phase is the most necessary phase in the project management life cycle where you define the purpose and also hire your project team.
By defining the purpose, scope, and objective and a team of well-skilled members you can ensure to complete the project successfully. The project’s initial templates describe the steps to initiate a project and break them into multiple tasks.
This process makes it easier for every team member to check out and correct the course if required.
The objectives and challenges of every project are different. The initial phase defines the three main things of a project which are the project’s objectives, scope, and constraints. By knowing these things, you can answer these three questions:
- What problems you can face during the development of the project?
- What is the goal of this project?
- What will be the benefit of this project?
You prepare a project plan; the investors approve this plan before starting the initial phase. The project plan lays out the visual that is required for higher-level management and project managers.
A project plan should contain clear and complete detail. Checking every task in the project initiation phase helps you to represent the goals of your project to the investors.
All projects have a reason to create them. You identify a need and you create a project to complete this need. The success of completing a project depends on how well the project basically addresses the need.
The success also depends on the purity and efficiency and belief of team members working on the project.
Sometimes the pressure of getting results makes people work on any solution without identifying the need. This will increase the chances of mistakes and waste.
One can remove these mistakes by describing the objective and need clearly to provide a solution. However, the project portfolio dashboard helps to make a smart plan.
The second phase is the planning phase where the important steps to complete the project objectives are explained as much as possible. The project managers identify all the work to be done to meet the project’s objective.
The manager creates a set of plans and resources and tasks are described.
The planning phase commonly involves:
- Required equipment and resources capacity planning.
- Costs and schedule.
- The total project budget.
- Allocating tasks to staff.
The tasks are smaller and attainable. You can determine the efficiency by defining the process and tasks. The efficiency of planning can give more weight to the quality of the result.
The planning phase helps you to manage time, resources, cost, dependencies, risk assessment, and problems. This phase also ensures to complete the project is within the budget and deliver it on time.
Once the team members identify the work, planned employee schedule, and predicted the total cost, the 3 basic parts of the planning phase are complete. The project team can identify the threats that are hurdles for the successful completion of the project.
During this phase, you can find all the project stakeholders. You create a communication system to keep the stakeholders informed to describe every important information.
The steps of the project planning phase are:
- Generating a project plan.
- Creating a project road map.
- Organizing a financial plan.
- Building your functional team.
- Preparation for risks and possible roadblocks.
The planning phase is also where you gather your team through a meeting. It is important to define everything so the project team members can instantly get to work on the next (execution) phase. It also helps in setting project Milestones.
The execution phase is the third and longest phase of the project management lifecycle. The project team members develop the project and present it to the customer.
This phase is consisting of processes that are performed by the project team to complete a project with the required specifications.
The team members perform the work of the project and put it into motion. A better communication system is needed during the execution phase. During the execution phase, team members are performing the tasks, and the progress report is presented through daily team meetings.
The project managers compare the project status report with the project plan to know the performance of the project and take some important action if needed.
Tasks completed during the execution phase are:
- Implementation planning.
- Providing management if required.
- Status meetings.
- Updating the schedule of the project.
- Modifying project plans.
The project should always be according to the original plan. If that cannot happen, the team should record changes from the original plan and produce adjustments to make a corrective action plan.
The investors and stakeholders should be kept informed about the current condition of the project. The project is carried out as planned and the plan is revised regularly.
Steps of the project execution phase may include:
- Organize workflow.
- Briefing project team members on their work.
- Communication with team members, investors, and stakeholders.
- Observing the quality of work.
- Monitoring and Controlling.
If these steps are performed properly then the execution of the project is much easier. after producing all the deliverables and the investors have accepted the final result, the project is ready for closure.
This phase involved project plan monitoring & controlling. Basically, it’s an administrative phase in which project managers keep an eye on project plan execution methods, pathways, and strategies to make sure the project is going according to plan. This helps us to avoid uncertain situations and scenarios that lead a project toward failure.
As a project managers, we run project assessment analysis on the following factors:
- Project Goals and objective
- A Project must lie on project Scope and never be a scope creep
- A project must remain within budget limitations
It’s important to remember this tracking process is run along with the project execution process which gives us the extra advantage of handling a project from loss.
Below we discuss highly recommended project management monitoring & controlling templates:
Gantt Chart: This tool provides the best online and offline project tracking platform in the form of a project portfolio dashboard.
The last phase is the closure phase which represents the project after its completion. After successfully completing the project; project managers hold a meeting to discuss the project failures and what went well in the project.
This is helpful to make improvements for future projects. The project manager gathers all the documents and stores them in a place. The investors and stakeholders are informed about the outcome.
Steps for the project closure phase are:
- Analyzing the performance of a project.
- Analyze the performance of the project team.
- Documenting project closure.
- Computing used and unused budget.