The Project Life Cycle

Since a project has a beginning and an end, it goes through what is called a life cycle.
The project life cycle has four phases. The amount of effort that each phase requires varies per project. However the sequence of the four phases is holy.

Initiation Phase

During the project initiation phase the decision is to do the project is made. It starts with someone identifying the need for a product or service. Once the decision to do the project is made, you go to the next step

Planning Phase

The planning phase is the most important phase of any project. Well all phases are important. What I mean is that the planning phase is where you set the basis for the outcome of the rest of the project. Here is where you determine your project schedule and budget and write your project plan. Anything you forget in the planning phase, will show up in the execution phase as an annoying and often costly problem. When tempted, never give in to cutting corners in the planning phase of a project.

Execution Phase

Once the project plan is completed and approved, it is time to get cracking and start to execute the project. This is the phase where you use performance measurement tools to manage the scope schedule and budget of the project.

Closing Phase

The most exciting part of the closing phase is verifying that the created product or service meets the requirements set forth in the beginning of the project.
Once these requirements are met and accepted by the client, you have to close all activities such as contracts and financial reports and prepare the final documentation of the project.
Note that the project life cycle is actually a process and not a cycle.
 This process also makes it clear why the sequence of the phases is holy: imagine executing a project before properly planning it.
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8 thoughts on “The Project Life Cycle”

  1. Hello Sergio. Long time. Thank you for your interesting comment. Yes indeed, there is always some iteration between project phases. That is why I mentioned under planning phase, that anything you forget in the planning phase will show up in the execution phase. Then you have to go back to planning. Nevertheless each project phase is a distinct phase and is sometimes closed off with a phase exit/gate. Have a look a chapter 2.1 in your PMBOK 4th edition.
    You are also correct about project controlling , it is a process group and not a project phase.

  2. Thanks Mr. Victor for your content.  I do agree with Dr. Paul that the above process groups will be performed in iteration during different stages or phases of a project.  In fact, I believe it would be very uncommon to find a project that does not require a large amount of time cycling between planning and executing in order to "control" the outcome and the scope of the project, which is another of the 5 process groups per the PMBOK.

  3. Thank you Mohammed.  That is the power of  a blog, you can discuss issues back and forth. By discussing we learn from each other.

    Thank you again for your supportive comment.

  4. Thanks Mr. Victor for raising the issue over here.  And moreover, thanks to Dr. Paul for elaborating the discussion and providing the valuable comments.

  5. Dr. Paul, thank you very much for your educative and constructive comment. I really appreciate it.
    The illustration above indeed resembles the process groups. PMI's PMBOK descibes five process groups (initiation, planning, exection. monitoring and control and the closing group). However, I am refering here to the Project Life Cycle. The time line of the project, the Life Span as you call it (I use  PMI terminology).
    The process groups contains the processes, which are the building blocks of a project, but they are not the same as the natural life cycle of the project. I admit that the process groups and the life cycle are often confused with each other. They are not the same however.
    If I remember good, the Project Life Cycle is discussed in chapter 2 of the 4th edition of PMI's PMBOK.

  6. Sorry, Victor, but it appears to me you are confusing the PROCESS GROUPINGS with the PROJECT LIFE SPAN. 
    The illustration you showed above looks to me like the PROCESS GROUPINGS, which repeat during each of the project phase, while the life SPAN (I don't like the work "CYCLE" as it denotes something that repeats) occurs once and only once for a given project.
    If you can locate an older PMBOK Guide, the difference was more clear.  Or even better yet, if you check the names of the project life span from the oil and gas sector, the terminology is much less confusing.
    Bottom line, the mistake I believe you are making is not an uncommon one, but it is something that you need to clarify if you are going to hold yourself out as a consultant.
    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia 

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