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The Project Life Cycle

The project life cycle consists of four phases, initiation, planning, execution (including monitoring and controlling) and evaluation. The MPMM Project Management Methodology is an excellent resource for this part of the Unit. The Initiation phase begins by defining the scope, purpose, objectives, resources, deliverables, timescales and structure of the project. The next step is to develop a Business Case, including several possible solutions and a cost/benefit analysis for each. A Feasibility Study should then be carried out to ensure that the chosen solution is feasible and has an acceptable level of risk. The next step is to define the Terms of Reference, followed by the appointment of the project team. The final step is to carry out Phase Review before seeking approval to proceed. The first step of the Planning phase is the creation of a detailed Project Plan which the project manager will refer throughout the project to monitor and control time, cost and quality. The project manager will then create the following plans:

  • Resource Plan: to identify the staffing, equipment and materials needed
  • Financial Plan: to quantify the financial expenditure required
  • Quality Plan: to set quality targets and specify Quality Control methods
  • Risk Plan: to identify risks and plan actions needed to minimise them
  • Acceptance Plan: to specify criteria for accepting deliverables

Finally, a Phase Review is carried out to assess the deliverables produced to date and approve the start of the Project Execution phase. During the Project Execution phase the project team produces the deliverables while the project manager monitors and controls the project delivery by undertaking:

  • Time Management: tracking and recording time spent on tasks against the Project Plan
  • Cost Management: identifying and recording costs against the project budget
  • Quality Management: reviewing the quality of the deliverables and management processes
  • Change Management: reviewing and implementing requests for changes to the project
  • Risk Management: assessing the level of project risk and taking action to minimize it
  • Issue Management: identifying and resolving project issues
  • Acceptance Management: identifying the completion of deliverables and gaining the customers acceptance
  • Communications Management: keeping stakeholders informed of project progress, risks and issues

Once the customer has accepted the deliverables and a Phase Review has been carried out to determine whether the project objectives have been achieved, the project is ready for Closure. A Project Closure Report should list all of the actions required. When this has been approved, the listed actions are completed to release project resources, hand over deliverables, and inform all stakeholders that the project is now closed. Shortly after the project has been closed, an Evaluation (also known as a Post-Implementation Review) should be carried out to determine the project's overall success and find out whether the benefits stated in the original Business Case were actually realised. Any lessons learned should be documented for future projects.

Next: Initiation