About this lesson
Understand the phases of a project lifecycle and know how to approach a predictive project versus an adaptive project.
Download this lesson’s exercise file.Project Lifecycle.docx
Project Lifecycle Reference Guide
The Project Lifecycle is the set of phases that a project goes through – it is a high-level outline of the project activities.
When to Use a Project Lifecycle
All projects go through a project lifecycle. An understanding of the lifecycle is beneficial during the planning phase of the project. If the project is well-defined, conducting familiar types of effort, and using a stable resource pool; the project can use a predictive lifecycle that allows the entire project to be planned in detail at the beginning of the project. Each phase and the activities within that phase are understood and therefore can be “predicted.” If the project is uncertain or unstable; an adaptive lifecycle is more appropriate. In an adaptive lifecycle, the instability and uncertainty prevents the project team from planning the project in detail at the beginning of the project. In this case, the team must plan portions of the project at a time, “adapting” the plan to the current situation. An adaptive lifecycle identifies the major phases and planning points.
Project Lifecycle Steps
- When a project is approved, the Project Leader, stakeholders and project teams determine the required project phases (lifecycle).
- If the project lifecycle is predictive, the project team plans the entire project and identifies the phase completion criteria.
- If the project lifecycle is adaptive, the project team creates a high-level plan for the project based upon the expected levels of risk and uncertainty.
- For adaptive projects, the project team then plans the details of each phase and the phase exit criteria one phase at a time.
Hints and Tips
- Most organizations have created a procedure or template for categories of projects that outline the project lifecycle and phase exit criteria.
- The phase entry and exit points are typically reviewed with the stakeholders to demonstrate progress and obtain stakeholder buy-in.
- Ideally, phases represent completing and retiring a major amount of project risk.
- Phases can overlap, but keep the deliverables separate so that you know what progress you have made within each phase.
- Project Lifecycle Definition: “The project life cycle is the series of phases that a project passes through from its initiation to its closure.” PMBOK® Guide
This definition is taken from the Glossary of the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK®Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2013.
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