A step-by-step guide to the project life cycle

A step-by-step guide to the project life cycle
Photo by Mason Kimbarovsky / Unsplash

All project begins with a vision and form that vision into a project which is an idea or concept; then for the idea to be developed into a project there must be a Project Sponsor who justifies that the project will contribute to the organisations' strategic goals. A Project Sponsor explains how the project will contribute to the organisation’s strategic purposes. With the proper support of the Project Sponsor, the Project Manager fulfils the project’s goals, where the Project Manager must have the Project Sponsor's formal support in achieving the project's goals.

A project deliverable is any measurable, accurate, checkable outcome result delivered to complete a project.

A project generally has four stages, in which the project manager holds specific duties and responsibilities. At each stage, develop a detailed life cycle list of tasks and responsibilities applied equally to all classifications of the project/s to keep the expectations of clients and stakeholders, to manage the complexity of the project, risk profile, and required financial controls.

The project lifecycle is a collection of sequential project stages whose name and number are defined by the authority requirements in an institution involved in a project.

The project lifecycle is a series of stages that a project goes through from start to finish. It typically includes the following phases:

  • Initiation: This is the first phase, where the project is defined and approved. The project manager is typically appointed in this phase.
  • Planning: This is where the project is planned in detail, including the tasks, schedule, budget, and resources.
  • Execution: This is where the project is actually done. The project manager oversees the work of the team and ensures that the project stays on track.
  • Monitoring and control: This is where the project is monitored to ensure that it is meeting its objectives. Any deviations from the plan are identified and corrective action is taken as needed.
  • Closing: This is the final phase, where the project is completed and the team is disbanded. Any lessons learned are documented so that they can be applied to future projects.

The exact number of phases in a project lifecycle can vary depending on the project and the methodology used. However, these phases listed above are the most common.

Let me explain it simply;

1. Concept & Initiation Phase Processes

The Concept & Initiation Phase Processes are crucial for any project's success. They involve two key deliverables: the Project Proposal and the Project Charter. The Project Proposal addresses various issues, such as project objectives, alignment with corporate strategy, estimated time and cost, and potential risks. The Project Sponsor takes responsibility for preparing the Proposal, and the Executive Management team signs off on it.

The Project Charter is derived from the Project Proposal and serves as a framework for the Project Plan. Its purpose is to define the scope of work to be performed, establish objectives and deliverables, and align the project with the business needs outlined in the Proposal. The Project Manager drafts the Charter in consultation with the Sponsor, and it is signed off on by the Sponsor. The Charter includes information on business benefits, scope, schedule, resource requirements, budget estimates, and risk assessment. Once the draft is circulated for comment and approved, it is submitted for inclusion in the Capital Works Program.

2. DESIGN & DEVELOPMENT PHASE

The success of any project heavily relies on the planning and development phase. It is crucial to continuously update the project plans during this phase, as these serve as the main reference for the project's execution or delivery phase. The Project Charter is the primary input document used for developing the project plan and ensuring its comprehensiveness, regardless of the project's size.

For larger projects, additional supporting documents may be necessary, such as a Risk Management Plan with a Risk Register, Risk Issue Report, Key Deliverables and Milestones, Issues Register, Communication Management Plan, Quality Management Plan, and Procurement/Contract Management Plan. These documents help in effectively monitoring and controlling the project, ensuring its success.

The responsibility of project organization lies with the Project Manager, in consultation with the Client/Sponsor and Project Team. This involves appointing a project manager, establishing a project team, administrative support, governance, structures, and procedures, and setting up a financial management structure.

The Project Plan Formation, on the other hand, involves reviewing project documentation, developing management plans, confirming and refining scope definition, allocating resources, producing a schedule, a detailed budget, and a risk analysis, planning communications and reporting requirements, determining quality requirements and work specifications, developing an HR Management Plan, and a Procurement Management Plan. The finalization strategy is developed, and the Project Plan and budget are submitted for approval.

The Pre-Implementation Review is a crucial step in ensuring the project's success. Validating the Project Charter and Project Plan, reviewing project team capabilities, chartering stakeholders and the project team, and obtaining approval to proceed are essential in ensuring everything is in line with the project's goals. Contract Formation is also key and involves validating Procurement Requirements and Purchasing Policy, initiating the Supplier Selection Process, conducting evaluations, developing a Procurement Management Plan, conducting contract negotiations, formalizing agreements, developing contracts, signing contracts, and commencing Contract Management.

With these steps in place, any project can be completed successfully. By continuously updating the project plans, ensuring all stakeholders are in agreement, and following the necessary procedures, any project can be executed with precision and excellence.

3. Implementation Or Construction Phase

During the Implementation or Construction Phase of the project, it's up to the Project Manager to ensure that every aspect of the project is integrated seamlessly and aligned with the latest agreed project plan, resulting in a deliverable that meets the Client/Sponsor's expectations. It's a critical responsibility that places a great deal of emphasis on managing contracts, monitoring risks, controlling budgets, and managing resources effectively. The Project Manager must also make sure that the project team is led and managed expertly to deliver results on time and on budget.

In both the Internal and External Environments, the Project Manager must balance the needs of all stakeholders, liaising closely with the project Sponsor/Client to ensure that everyone stays informed of progress and any changes to the project. The Project Manager must monitor the project schedule, assess and monitor risk, report on risk status changes and project issues, and provide regular updates to key stakeholders.

The activities involved in both the Internal and External Environments require a high level of communication, negotiation, and collaboration, all of which are essential skills for an effective Project Manager. With these skills, a Project Manager can inspire and motivate their team to achieve great things, delivering a project that exceeds all expectations and makes a real difference to the lives of the people it serves.

4. Commissioning & Handover Phase

During the Commissioning & Handover Phase, the Project Manager plays a crucial role in delivering the project to its operating organization. The focus is on completing all aspects of the project and achieving practical completion. The Post Implementation Review Report is an essential deliverable of this phase.

The Project Manager is responsible for ensuring that all project specifications are met, and all necessary documentation is completed and archived according to corporate policy. This includes finalizing contracts, completing operating manuals and commissioning certificates, paying accounts, and preparing project completion and finalization reports.

To successfully complete the project, the Project Manager must also ensure that the product/asset meets the client's requirements, transfer ownership formally, enter the asset into the appropriate register, obtain sign-off from the Client/Sponsor, and de-charter the project team.

The final activities of the Project Completion phase include conducting administrative close out, budgeting and scheduling against baseline, reporting to stakeholders, and archiving mandated documentation. The Project Manager must also conduct a post-implementation review, record lessons learned, review success criteria, facilitate a project audit, draft a project completion report, and submit the report for endorsement by the Sponsor/Client.

The Commissioning & Handover Phase marks the culmination of dedicated efforts to deliver a successful project. The Project Manager's leadership and attention to detail ensure that the project is completed to the highest standards, and all stakeholders are satisfied with the final outcome.

Values

The project lifecycle is a valuable tool for project managers. It provides a framework for planning, managing, and delivering projects effectively. By following the project lifecycle, project managers can increase the chances of project success.

Benefits of using the project lifecycle:

  • It provides a structured approach to project management.
  • It helps to ensure that all of the important steps in the project are taken.
  • It helps to identify and manage risks.
  • It helps to track progress and ensure that the project stays on schedule and within budget.
  • It helps to ensure that the project meets its objectives.

If you are involved in a project, it is important to understand the project lifecycle. This will help you to better understand your role in the project and how you can contribute to its success.

Tips for using the project lifecycle effectively:

  • Involve all stakeholders in the project lifecycle. This will help to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the project meets the needs of all stakeholders.
  • Be flexible and adaptable. The project lifecycle is not a rigid process. It is important to be flexible and adaptable to changes that may occur during the project.
  • Communicate effectively throughout the project lifecycle. This will help to keep everyone informed and avoid surprises.
  • Document the project lifecycle. This will help to capture the lessons learned and improve the way that future projects are managed.

Project managers need to understand the project lifecycle thoroughly because it is the framework for planning, managing, and delivering projects effectively. By understanding the different phases of the project lifecycle, project managers can identify and manage risks, track progress, and ensure that the project meets its objectives.

Specific reasons why project managers need to understand the project lifecycle:

  • To identify and manage risks: Each phase of the project lifecycle has its own unique risks. By understanding the risks associated with each phase, project managers can develop plans to mitigate those risks.
  • To track progress: The project lifecycle provides a framework for tracking progress against the project plan. This helps to ensure that the project stays on track and within budget.
  • To ensure that the project meets its objectives: The project lifecycle defines the objectives of the project. By understanding these objectives, project managers can ensure that the project is delivered successfully.
  • To communicate effectively: The project lifecycle provides a common language for communicating about the project. This helps to ensure that everyone involved in the project is on the same page.
  • To learn from past projects: By understanding the project lifecycle, project managers can learn from past projects and improve their chances of success in future projects.

In short, project managers need to understand the project lifecycle thoroughly in order to effectively plan, manage, and deliver projects.

The project lifecycle is a framework for planning, managing, and delivering projects effectively. By following the project lifecycle, project managers can increase the chances of project success.

Where the project lifecycle is not a rigid process, it is important to be flexible and adaptable to changes that may occur during the project. It is also important to communicate effectively throughout the project lifecycle. This will help to keep everyone informed and avoid surprises.

Adding some additional thoughts on the conclusion of the project lifecycle:

  • The project closure phase is an important opportunity to celebrate the project's successes and learn from its failures.
  • It is also a time to thank the project team for their hard work and dedication.
  • The lessons learned from the project can be used to improve future projects.
  • The project lifecycle is a continuous process. As soon as one project is completed, another one begins.

By understanding and following the project lifecycle, project managers can improve their chances of success in delivering projects on time, within budget, and to the satisfaction of all stakeholders.