Project lifecycle

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Project lifecycle is a set of all phases and activities (from first to last) of a particular complex project. The project as a single enterprise is burdened with a certain degree of uncertainty. Usually it is divided into phases to make it easier to supervise the realisation.

Project life cycle phases

The phases can be distinguished on the basis of their effects. If the effect is a separate, possible to verify product (e.g. feasibility study, detail design, prototype), then we can talk about the stage. Project phases help to control the project, but you must look globally for the entire project to be able to control project costs. To this end, a final inspection is performed after each stage. Review is necessary to approve effects of the previous phase and to make decision to move to the next phase (or discontinuation of the project).

In some cases, it is possible that the next phase begins before the previous is completed. This is acceptable when the risk of failure of not completed phase is low. This practice is called "fast tracking" or "overlapping".

Effects of project management lifecycle

The project lifecycle concept helps to determine what work should be done at each stage and who should participate in the individual phases. These descriptions can be general or specific. Most of the project cycles is characterized by:

  • low resource use at the beginning, which increases with time, and in the last phase decreases sharply,
  • the probability of success is the smallest at the beginning, and therefore there is the greatest risk of failure, the likelihood increases with time,
  • the ability of customers to impact final performance parameters of the product decreases with time, it becomes obvious when we consider that the cost of changes and bug fixes is increasing in each successive phase of the project.

Please note that the project life cycle is not the same as the product life cycle. The project of introducing a new computer on the market, is only one phase of the product life cycle of this machine.

Fig. 1. Phases of the project life cycle

Project management phases by N.Mingus

Project lifecycle - Planning phase

This is the stage of defining and determining the important elements of the project. This phase governs matters relating to decisions taken by those involved in the project. The arrangements are recorded in a project book, where are also stated results of the project and its implementation. In this phase decisions are taken about the aspects of control and decision points for the principal and the contractor. Based on a project book main activities are identified. They make up the global project plan and a plan of work stage to stage. At the end of this phase, people involved in the project must decide whether the project should be started and performed.

Project lifecycle - Work phase

During this phase, actual goods or services are delivered, that contribute to the project and is necessary to achieve the planned results. This is the stage of implementation of certain products in accordance with the arrangements contained in the plan phase, and the project book. Project book and project plans are then adapted on the basis on the experience achieved. There are also the next phase are planned, and decision-making documents are created. They sets out the further fate of the project. It is the most important of all other stages of project management.

Project lifecycle - Evaluation phase

Evaluation of project phase runs before the end of the project or at the end of the project. During this phase comparison is made of the project results with plans. Next persons in charge of the project, the project participants and vendors are relieved of responsibility. The project team is dismissed end formal completion of the project is made. Equipment and tools are returned, and all the documents that are subject to archiving are gathered.

See also:

Advantages of Project lifecycle

A project lifecycle offers numerous advantages, such as:

  • Improved project management: By dividing the project into stages, it is easier to manage and track progress, allocate resources, and identify potential problems.
  • Cost savings: By breaking down the project into phases, it can be easier to identify and address cost overruns before they become unmanageable.
  • Improved communication: With a clearly-defined project lifecycle, all stakeholders will be better informed of the expected outcomes and milestones, leading to better communication.
  • Reduced risk: As project phases are completed, risks associated with the project can be more easily identified and addressed.
  • Increased efficiency: By having a clearly-defined project lifecycle, teams can move more quickly and efficiently, as they know what tasks need to be completed and when.
  • Improved visibility: By having a project lifecycle in place, it is easier to provide stakeholders with regular updates on progress and ensure that the project is on track.

Limitations of Project lifecycle

The project lifecycle can be limited by a variety of factors, including:

  • Unclear goals: If the project goals are not clear, it can be difficult to align activities with the desired objectives, resulting in a lack of proper direction and scope.
  • Unforeseen changes: Unexpected changes in the external environment can affect the project timeline, budget, and scope.
  • Poor communication: Poor communication between project stakeholders can lead to confusion and contribute to misalignment of expectations.
  • Poor planning: An inadequate or nonexistent project plan can lead to significant delays and cost overruns.
  • Poor resource management: Inadequate resource management can lead to inadequate resources being allocated to tasks, resulting in poor performance.
  • Poor quality control: Quality control procedures must be established in order to ensure that the project meets its intended goals and objectives.
  • Lack of experience: Projects can be difficult to manage if the project team lacks the necessary experience and expertise.

Other approaches related to Project lifecycle

The following are other approaches related to Project Lifecycle:

  • Agile Methodology - Agile methodology is an iterative approach to process management that relies on small, self-organizing teams and quick iterations. It stresses flexibility, responsiveness to change, and continuous improvement.
  • Waterfall Methodology - Waterfall methodology is a traditional, linear model of project management. It is used to plan and manage projects in which all tasks must be completed in a specific order before the next task can begin.
  • Iterative Methodology - Iterative methodology is an incremental approach to project management that allows for adjustments and improvements as the project progresses. It focuses on taking small steps and testing results before moving on to the next step.
  • Lean Methodology - Lean methodology is an approach to project management that emphasizes eliminating waste, streamlining processes, and reducing costs. It is based on the idea that quality is best achieved by minimizing the amount of work required to produce a product or service.
  • Scrum Methodology - Scrum methodology is an agile approach to project management that focuses on delivering value quickly and efficiently. It is based on the idea of breaking down a project into smaller chunks and then delivering them in iterations.

In summary, the different approaches to project lifecycle management are Agile, Waterfall, Iterative, Lean and Scrum Methodologies. Each approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the right approach for a particular project depends on its specific needs.

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Author: Slawomir Wawak, Elżbieta Iskra