Part 12: Project Life Cycle

//Part 12: Project Life Cycle
Part 12: Project Life Cycle2022-08-21T03:59:05+00:00

Part 12: Project Life Cycle

The Project Management Life Cycle

  • The Project Management Life Cycle is a series of phases from initiation to closure
  • Phases are Sequential
  • The Project Management Life Cycle Phases are Starting the Project, Organizing and Preparing, Carrying Out the Work, and Ending the Project
  • The Process Groups are Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing
  • Can be predictive or adaptive/change-driven
  • Independent of the life cycle of the product that we are developing through the project
  • All projects go through the Project Management Life Cycle, regardless of industry or organization
  • A project may have one Project Phase or multiple Project Phases
  • A project with multiple Project Phases repeats the Project Management Life Cycle in each phase (a Project Phase is different from a Project Management Life Cycle Phase!)

Project Phase

  • A project phase = logically related project activities that end in one ore more deliverables
  • We use project phases when work in a phase is unique to a portion of the project
  • Project Phases can be Sequential or Overlapping
    • Sequential Project Phases reduce uncertainty but take longer to perform
    • Overlapping Project Phases allow a schedule to be compressed, but can increase risks if data/deliverables from a previous project phase is not available for a subsequent phase
  • Structure of a project’s phases depends on the industry/organization

Characteristics of a Project Phase

  • Each phase can have a unique name
  • In each project phase, work has a distinct focus different from any other phase
  • Achieving the objective of the project phase requires controls to the phase
  • Closure of a project phase ends with a transfer of the work product; this is known as the phase deliverable
  • The end of the phase may be called a State Gate/Milestone/Phase Review/Phase Gate/Kill Point
    • After reviewing the project phase deliverable, the project’s progress is assessed against the project management plan and charter
    • If a project stops making sense (not aligned with the organization’s goals, no longer feasible, no longer financially sound), it will be terminated
    • Otherwise, the project will be allowed to continue to the next phase
    • It is possible to have another outcome such as remaining in the current phase, or taking corrective action before continuing to the next phase
  • A Project Phase is not a Process Group
  • All the Process Groups may be repeated inside each phase


  • Let’s go back to Vortex’s oven design project. 
    • The first phase is to design and model the oven on computer. 
    • The second phase is to build a prototype. 
    • The third phase is to create a list of required components and negotiate with suppliers. 
    • The final phase is to design a full-scale manufacturing process for the oven.
  • Each of the phases follows the Project Management Life Cycle. 
  • For example, in the first phase (design phase)
    • Initiate the design phase by obtaining approval from senior management
    • Plan the design phase by identifying which team members will design each component
    • Execute the phase by completing the design
    • The entire design process is monitored and controlled to ensure that it is on schedule, and that the design meets the agreed requirements
    • Close the phase by submitting the completed design drawings to the next phase of the project (prototype construction)
  • If Vortex completes each phase (design, prototyping, supply chain, full-scale manufacturing) sequentially, it takes longer to design the oven and bring it to market.  Vortex might not beat the competition.  Project staff will be employed for a longer period.
  • If Vortex overlaps the phases, the oven will get to market faster.  But let’s say they start building the prototype and negotiating with suppliers before the final design has been completed.  At the last minute, the design team changes components in the oven.  The prototyping team must now change their prototype, and the negotiation team must renegotiate their agreements with the suppliers.  This will delay the project and cost more money.

Generic Life Cycle

  • All projects can be mapped to a Generic Life Cycle
  • The Generic Life Cycle is
    • Starting the Project => Organizing/Preparing => Carrying out the Work => Closing
  • When communicating with upper management, we refer to the Generic Life Cycle phases, because managers may be less familiar with specific project life cycles

Characteristics of the Life Cycle

As we can see from the above figure

  • Cost/Staffing levels are low at the start, and peak as work is carried out
  • The Project Charter marks the end of the Initiating Phase
  • The Project Management Plan marks the end of the Planning Phase
  • The Completed Deliverables mark the end of the Executing Phase
  • Keep in mind that some projects require massive costs/staffing at the start to secure resources, so this figure does not fit every project perfectly

Risk and Costs

As we can see from the above figure

  • Stakeholder Influence/Risk/Uncertainty are high at the start, and get lower over time
  • Risk/uncertainty are greatest at the start and decrease over time
  • Ability to influence the product/result without impacting costs is highest at the start

There are several Types of Life Cycles

  • Predictive Life Cycle
    • Most likely Life Cycle for the PMP Exam
    • Each phase in the project is different
    • Scope/Time/Cost are determined early in the project
    • Predictive Life Cycle is preferred when the product is well known
    • For example, if Vortex uses a project to design an oven, they will design one component of the oven in each phase (frame, electrical system, user interface, etc.)
      • Phase 1: design the frame
      • Phase 2: design the electrical system
      • Phase 3: design the user interface
      • Phase 4: design the packaging
    • Once the phases are completed, the product goes to market.
    • Remember that these phases can overlap (as we mentioned earlier).

  • Iterative/Incremental Life Cycle
    • Each phase in the project repeats activities of previous phase
    • Iterations develop or improve a product through incremental, repeated cycles
    • Each phase can have a different length
    • Increments add to the functionality of the product
    • A high-level vision is developed (overall concept of the product)
    • Scope is elaborated at each iteration (we clearly define what we are going to accomplish in this iteration)
    • Iterative life cycle is preferred when the delivery of a partially completed product is beneficial
    • Large/Complex projects are iterative, so that the team can use feedback to improve project
    • For example, if Vortex uses a project to design an oven, they will design the entire oven and packaging in the first phase, and add features in each additional phase
      • Phase 1: design a basic oven
      • Phase 2: make oven more efficient
      • Phase 3: add self-cleaning features
      • Phase 4: add color screen to oven
      • Phase 5: add iPhone app to oven
    • The oven goes to market faster, because it’s good enough to sell at Phase 1, and only gets better.  If customers have complaints or suggestions, they can be incorporated into future designs. 
    • The disadvantage is that Vortex now has many different models of ovens on the market, which makes warranty support more difficult (they must stock many more unique parts and manuals, and train service staff on many different models).  Also, Vortex must change its assembly line/retrain assembly line staff each time the design changes, which costs more money.
    • This life cycle is not really suited for an appliance manufacturer.  It is suited for a car company.  You can think of every year as a separate phase, where new features are added to the base automobile.  A 2020 Toyota Corolla will be slightly different from the 2019 Toyota Corolla.  It won’t be completely redesigned.  Toyota will take customer feedback and ideas from its competitors and integrate them into the new model.

  • Adaptive Life Cycle
    • In the Adaptive Life Cycle, Iterations (phases) are rapid (2 to 4 weeks) and fixed
    • Responds well to change
    • Used when requirements/scope are difficult to define, or when incremental improvements deliver value
    • The oven example doesn’t work here.  But if we came up with a great idea for an iPhone app, taking it to market right away is more important than making sure it’s perfect.  If we wait too long, somebody will steal our idea.
    • In the beginning, we don’t have a detailed idea about how the App should work.  So, we design a basic App, and quickly add features based on user feedback.
    • Every week, we make some changes to the App and deliver an update.
    • A year from now, the app may look completely different from what it was when we started.
    • If we used the Predictive Life Cycle to create the app, it would take a year to develop the app.  By then, our competitors would have taken over the market.

    • This is also known as the Agile SCRUM model
      • In the beginning, the scope of a project is decomposed into many specific requirements known as the Product Backlog.  Each requirement is a “feature”
      • At the start of an iteration (also called a sprint), the team ranks the Product Backlog by priority
      • The team attempts to complete as many items on the Product Backlog as possible in the current iteration
        • The Sprint Backlog contains the items to be completed in the current iteration
      • At the end of an iteration, the completed product is reviewed, and a new Product Backlog is generated
        • Items completed during the iteration are removed from the Product Backlog
        • Additional items (from user feedback, etc.) are added to the Product Backlog
        • The priority of an item on the Product Backlog may change

  • Hybrid Life Cycle
    • It is possible to have a hybrid lifecycle that combines some iterative and some predictive components