Project Management Phases

Project Lifecycle

Project Initiation

Project Initiation


Once the idea is created via a Mission Statement and it passes an evaluation phase, the project is formally defined allowing the project boundaries to be created within which the different operators will perform and be measured by. It is the ultimate vision from which the rest of the project is delivered.


The boundaries are defined as the Project Scope or the Project Charter which is simply the construct of the idea which is then taken to the next level of detail by becoming the Business Requirements. You, as the Project Manager, want to be able to estimate the cost of the project based on the high level assumptions and is generally used in a Business Case to derive if the idea is worth going ahead with.


The project manager works with the people who came up with the idea to put together the business case which provides in detail what the idea is about, what market it is tapping, how much revenue will it generate, how much the deliverable will cost to implement and operate, and what the Return on Investment will be.


As a project manager you will also look at resourcing, i.e. hiring the people who will be part of your project team.


Project Planning



Once the project is defined and we understand our objectives, it is important to determine if the project needs to be divided into smaller sub-projects or multiple phases. This allows the project to be streamlined or to be moved in a linear fashion like a production factory. Imagine embarking on building a house, which is one big project, but with multiple different tasks which you could kick off in parallel. So dividing the plan to build the house into different components could allow a quicker start without having to wait for one whole task to finish before starting another. So while you are waiting for the development approval from council you could start on some of the pre-construction activities with your architects. A good project manager knows how to pull an efficient schedule together by linking the predecessors and successor activities. For example the many methods used in IT industry projects by the project managers such as Agile, Waterfall, Prince2 and PMBOK all call out the need to break the project into a logical sequencing to get the best results.

Planning is an important technique in project management, for it allows project managers to lay out a plan that suits the needs of its stakeholders by delivering the best outcome within the given limits of cost, time and quality. Plan poorly to begin with and the project is doomed, planning efficiently to take into account the three constraints and the project will run smoothly. A good planner consults, takes into account every step in the process, provides enough contingency for tasks that are dependent on external factors and then reviews and re-reviews the plan for any adjustments. It requires good organisation skills to plan the project from start to finish. Good planning allows for all contingencies in the event of any unforeseeable issues. For example, imagine what happens when you can’t plan properly for your retirement, you are unfortunately left living on the government pension. Project managers who do not plan properly are left with the project going out of their control for they have not set the boundaries in the first place.

Project Execution



Project execution is all about applying discipline, ensuring the plan prepared is managed effectively and efficiently. Many projects often do not reach their initial targets because the project manager or the sponsors are detracting from the original scope or plan by not applying the right controls during execution to gauge the progress or the outcomes on a regular basis. Imagine you embarked upon renovating your house, you have a plan but do not have the discipline to stick to the plan or put controls in place leaving you halfway into the project realising that you have almost spent all the money and still have not accomplished everything you had put in the plan. Understanding your critical path elements is the key to knowing what is going to be a showstopper. Proper governance during execution also is important as it allows regular evaluation and sanity checks. It is easier to control a project when you identify it has moved 5% away from plan than waiting for it to be 100% off the plan.

Project Closure



Purely from a project management perspective, success is measured by how effectively one managed the project from a time, budget and quality point of view. This is conducted during project closure phase by conducting post implementation reviews. Some would argue that success cannot be measured by these three alone as personal satisfaction can be enough merely by completing the project as you had planned with quality alone. So a couple embarking on a project to build their dream home may actually be fully satisfied just by completing it even though the project cost them a lot more and the time it took to complete the project doubled (we have seen that so often in building projects as seen on the Grand Designs TV show.


So measuring success is relative to one's interpretation of what adds to success in true project management discipline. Unfortunately a project has to be deemed based on the above three factors alone unless you are blessed with stakeholders allowing you to continue by providing more time and money.