Project Life Cycle
Projects are temporary endeavours, therefore they have a lifecycle.
When to use
The project life cycle provides a general overview of the phases that a project goes through. An understanding of the project life cycle aids in planning the timing and resources required to complete the project. In addition to planning, the project life cycle can assist a project leader at major milestones of a project to ensure that appropriate progress has been made on the project.
Project Life Cycle: “The project life cycle is the series of phases that a project passes through from its initiation to its closure.” PMBOK® Guide
Most organizations have a project management methodology which will define the phases of a project life cycle. Obviously, if your organization has one, follow it.
Project Life Cycle Characteristics
“The generic lifecycle structure generally displays the following characteristics:
- Cost and staffing levels are low at the start, peak as the work is carried out, and drop rapidly as the project draws to a close. The figure above illustrates this pattern.
- The typical cost and staffing curve above may not apply to all projects. A project may require significant expenditures to secure needed resources early in its life cycle, for instance, or be fully staffed from a point very early in its life cycle.
- Risk and uncertainty are greatest at the start of the project. These factors decrease over the life of the project as decisions are reached and deliverables are accepted.
- The ability to influence the final characteristics of the project’s product, without significantly impacting cost, is highest at the start of the project and decreases as the project progresses towards completion. The figure below illustrates the idea that the cost of making changes and correcting errors typically increases substantially as the project approaches completion.
While these characteristics remain present to some extent in almost all project life cycles, they are not always present to the same degree.” PMBOK® Guide
Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013, Glossary definition from Page 554. Quotation from Page 40. Figure 2-8, Page 39.
Project Management Process Group Interactions
The activities and processes of project management interact with each other throughout the project life cycle. The interactions of the project management process groups, Initiating, Planning, Executing, Closing, and Monitoring and Controlling varies over the life of the project. The figure below shows how the level of interactions typically changes for each process group.
Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013, Figure 2-9, Page 40 and Figure 3-2, Page 51. PMBOK is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.
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