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Projects are often organized into phases. Phases provide structure and logic to the project and aid the project team and management to track progress.
When to use
Project phases are normally used in one of these three situations:
- The organization has a Stage-Gate project management methodology that separates project into phases. In this case the phases are the standard way to do projects.
- Projects that have a great deal of complexity and risk are often separated into phases in order for the project team and management to focus on appropriate aspects of the project at the right time.
- A project that is funded incrementally by the organization or a customer will often be managed in phases based upon the deliverable that supports the funding pattern.
- This phase is normally focused on a set of deliveables or a major category of project risks.
- Each phase can be managed like a mini-project.
- Activities are normally cross-fucntional.
- Closure of a phase includes acceptance of the phase deliverables.
- Phases are normally sequential but can overlap.
Phase gate decisions:
- Go - phase is complete, the team starts the next phase.
- Conditional Go - phase is not complete, but the progress is sufficient that the team can start the next phase while finishing this phase.
- Resubmit - phase is not complete. Complete the work and conduct a new phase gate review.
- Hold - phase is complete. But the team is not authrorized to proceed at this time due to other business constraints.
- Cancel - regardless of phase progress, stop all work and disband the project.
Commonly-used phase methodologies:
- Lean six sigma
- Software Development Life Cycle
- New Product Development
- Construction six-phase Methodology
Project Phase: “A collection of logically related project activities that culminates in the completion of one or more deliverables.” PMBOK® Guide.
Phase Gate: “A review at the end of a phase in which a decision is made to continue to the next phase, or to end a project or program.” PMBOK® Guide.
These definitions are taken from the Glossary of the Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc., 2017.
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PMI, PMP and PMBOK are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.