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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Chapter 6: The Project Lifecycle

In the previous chapter, we learnt what a process is and the fact that, they are used widely in the project management lifecycle. In this chapter, we are going to understand the project lifecycle.

So, lets get started!!!

Project Lifecycle:

From initiation/authorization to completion/closure, a project goes through a whole lifecycle that includes defining the project objectives, planning the work to achieve those objectives, performing the actual work, monitoring and controlling the progress, and closing the project after receiving the product acceptance or after cancellation of the project.
The below picture depicts the relation between the various stages in a projects lifecycle. Each of these stages is a process group and there are a variety of processes involved in each of these stages.

Let us now take a detailed look at these stages, one by one:

Initiating a Project:

This stage defines and authorizes the project. The project manager is named, and the project is officially launched through a signed document called the project charter, which contains items such as the purpose of the project, a high-level product description, a summary of the milestone schedule, and a business case for the project. Another outcome of this stage is a document called the stakeholder register, which identifies the project stakeholders and important information about them. The processes used to perform this stage fall into a group called the initiating process group.

The term high-level means lacking details or not including the details. This term will be used frequently and its good to know what it means. A high level activity would usually involved a detailed activity usually worked out through a process called progressive elaboration which we covered a couple of chapters back.

Planning a Project:

In this stage, you as the project manager, along with the project management team, refine the project objectives and requirements and develop the project management plan, which is a collection of several plans that constitute a course of actions required to achieve the objectives and meet the requirements of the project. The project scope is finalized with the project scope statement. The project management plan, the outcome of this stage, contains subsidiary plans, such as a project scope management plan, a schedule management plan, and a quality management plan. The processes used to perform this stage fall into a group called the planning process group.

Executing a Project:

In this stage, you as the project manager, implement the project management plan, and the project team performs the work scheduled in the planning stage. You coordinate all the activities being performed to achieve the project objectives and meet the project requirements. Of course, the main output of any project is the project deliverables. Approved changes, recommendations, and defect repairs are also implemented in this stage. But where do these changes and recommendations come from? They arise from monitoring and controlling the project. The stakeholders can also suggest changes, which must go through an approval process before implementation. The project execution is performed using the processes that fall into a group called the executing process group.

Monitoring and controlling:

You monitor and control the project through its lifecycle, including the execution stage. Monitoring and controlling includes defending the project against scope creep (unapproved changes to the project scope), monitoring the project progress and performance to identify variance from the plan, and recommending preventive and corrective actions to bring the project in line with the planned expectations in the approved project management plan. Requests for changes, such as change to the project scope, are also included in this stage; they can come from you or from any other project stakeholder. The changes must go through an approval process, and only the approved changes are implemented. The processes used in this stage fall into a group called the monitoring and controlling process group.

Closing a Project:

In this stage, you manage the formal acceptance of the project product, close any contracts involved, and bring the project to an end by disbanding the project team. Closing the project includes conducting a project review for lessons learned and possibly turning over the outcome of the project to another group, such as the maintenance or operations group.
This stage is applicable even for Terminated/Cancelled Projects. Terminated projects (that is, projects cancelled before completion) should also go through the closing stage. The processes used to perform the closing stage fall into the group called the closing process group.
Don’t forget the last, but not the least, task of the closing stage: Project Closure Party!!!

What we refer to as project stages here are not actually the project phases. A project phase is part of the whole project in which certain milestones or project deliverables are completed. All these stages, technically called process groups, can be applied to any phase of a project that is divided into multiple phases.

Project Lifecycle Summary:

Let us wrap up this chapter, by summarizing the project lifecycle and the activities involved in it.

Process Group Project Stage Goal Outcome
Initiating Starting the project Authorize the project Project charter
Planning Organizing and preparing Plan and schedule the work to perform the project Project management plan
Executing Carrying out the work Perform the project work Project deliverables: product, service, results
Monitoring and controlling Spans the project lifecycle Monitor the progress of the project to identify the variance from the plan and to correct it Change requests and recommendations for preventive and corrective actions
Closing Closing the project formally Close the project Product acceptance, contract closure, and archiving
The initiating stage authorizes a project by naming the project manager, the planning stage further defines the project objectives and plans the work to meet those objectives, the execution stage executes the work, the monitoring and controlling stage monitors the progress of the project and controls it to keep it in line with the plan, and the closing stage formally closes the project by obtaining the product acceptance. Each of these stages is performed by using a group of processes. Thereby, these stages are called process groups.

The stages of a project or process groups determine when a process is executed, whereas the processes themselves belong to certain knowledge areas of project management. In the next chapter, we will be looking at the project management knowledge areas.

Previous: Understanding a Process

Next: Project Management Knowledge Areas


  1. what different and similarities RIBA ang project life cycle?

    1. What is this RIBA? I found a RIBA related to construction management and if that is what you are asking about, unfortunately I am not aware of the same

    2. RIBA is Royal Institute of British Architects. i just want know a different and similarities of project life cycle.

    3. Sorry man. I have 0 idea about RIBA so can't comment on this.



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