Phases of Project Management Life Cycle

Project Initiation Phase

This phase is the first step of the project and includes processes required to initiate a new project. The aim of this phase is to figure out the outcome that a project should achieve.

The project initiation phase is also termed as analysis and evaluation phase. Information is gathered from customers who are related to the project. This information helps in analyzing the project requirements. As per the requirement of the customer, a project is planned in a strategic way. The project manager handles the task of problem analysis and a detailed report is submitted to the top management.

In the initiation phase, the identification of a business objective is there and can be in form of a business opportunity or a business problem. Recommended solution alternatives are documented and a feasibility study is conducted for investigating each alternative in terms of addressing the objective of a project. Further, the final recommended solution is approved and a project begins after appointing a project manager.

Two main activities are there under this phase:

  • Developing a Project Charter
  • Identifying Stakeholders

The project-related whole information is documented in the stakeholder register and project charter.  The project is considered officially authorized after the approval of the project charter.

Project Charter

This helps in defining the main components of a project such as goals, approvals, budget, and schedule of high-level, problem statements, project constraints, milestones, approvals. Moreover, by using the project charter document, a project manager is able to use available resources for the project.  Various inputs required to develop a project charter include a business case, a project statement, enterprise environment factor, identifying risks and deliverables, agreements, and organizational process assets.

Identifying Stakeholders

The success and failure of a project can be influenced by a stakeholder. The information of stakeholders is documented in the stakeholder register. This register includes different information such as stakeholder type, stakeholder expectations, his/her role in a project (Technical Architect, Business Analyst), stakeholder’s designation, Communication type, etc.

Project Planning Phase

This phase contains the maximum activities of the whole project management process. The project planning phase determines the scope of the project. The beginning of this phase is with the outcomes of the project initiation phase. The outcome of this phase acts as the input for the next phase i.e. the execution phase.

In this phase, the steps required to obtain the objectives of the project are planned in a detailed form. Also, the whole work or activities to be done are identified in this phase by the project team. The identification of tasks and resource requirements is done and strategy is outlined to produce them.

To create a project plan, different project activities, dependencies, tasks, and timeframes are outlined. The project manager is given the responsibility to prepare the project budget and provide the estimation of the cost related to labor, materials, and equipment.  The budget is utilized for supervising and controlling cost expenses during the project implementation phase.

In the planning phase, every team member of the project is well aware of their responsibilities and roles. Below are a few documents that a project manager maintains in this phase to keep the project on track:

Statement of Scope

This is a document that defines the objectives, project benefits, business needs, and project deliverables. The change in the scope statement should be done with the approval of the sponsor and project manager.


This includes identifying goals of high-levels that are required to be fulfilled during the entire project and these goals are included in the Gantt chart.

Work Breakdown Schedule (WBS) 

A visual representation that represents the project into sections and can be managed easily is termed as WBS.

Gantt Chart

This is a visual timeline that can be used to plan for tasks and also, the project timeline can be visualized using a Gantt chart.

Risk Management Plan

This plan is there to identify any unpredictable risks such as budget cuts, unrealistic cost and time estimates, changing requirements, customer review cycle.

Communication Plan

This is related to developing proper communication around the project and making a schedule to communicate with team personnel.

Project Execution Phase

This phase includes activities mentioned in the project management plan. It consists of managing the expectations of stakeholders, coordinating with resources and people, and activities related to the deliverables of the project.

In this phase, the development and completion tasks of deliverables take place. The project execution phase is considered the main phase of the project as it includes a lot of tasks such as status meetings and reports, performance reports, development updates. Below tasks are expected to complete during this phase:

  • Developing team
  • Assigning of resources
  • Execution of project management plans by the project manager
  • Setting up tracking systems
  • Execution of task assignments
  • Updating project schedule
  • Modification of project plans (if required)

The Project execution phase produces the below aspects:

Project Deliverables

This is considered the main reason for running a project as these are the results generated from projects.

The execution process demands ensuring the well-tested deliverables that are as per acceptance criteria and are approved by the business sponsor or customer.  Most importantly, the project deliverables should be of superior quality as agreed and fulfill the defined specifications and goals.

Documents related to Change Management

Change is considered unavoidable in project management. If the change management process in an organization is handled properly, then it helps in reducing the loss of project resources. The project management change plan defines the process to manage any type of changes in the project’s objectives, schedule, and usage of resources. So, change document plays an important role in managing projects irrespective of the project’s size and complexity, and thus, it influences the success of a project a lot.

Below aspects are included in the change management document:

Change Management Goals

This specifies the goals or objectives of the change management plan of a project. For instance, it includes defining changes clearly, evaluating, approving, and keeping track of changes in an effective and efficient way. This also includes details of the way the project change plan is beneficial for the project.

Change Management Responsibilities

This area of change document includes defining the responsibilities of all the stakeholders that are part of the project and may get affected by changes in a project. For example, defining responsibilities related to receiving requests for project change, evaluation, communicating project changes to project people, project clients, etc. are part of this area.

Change Management Model

This section listed out the details related to the process of change management in clear terms. It describes how requests for project change are initiated and evaluated, their approval authority, and the process of recording them.

Measuring Project Activities

Performance measurement is considered a critical factor in optimizing project performance. To keep the project performance on track consistent supervision, and control measures are essential.

Project Monitoring and Controlling Phase

This phase includes activities related to reviewing and regulating the progress of the project to obtain the goals of the project. It identifies the changes involved in the project management plan so that corrective actions can be determined.

Inputs for this phase include cost and schedule forecasts, project management plan, organizational process assets, performance reports, environmental factors related to enterprise, etc. Whereas, the outputs consist of project document updates, requests for change, and updates in a project management plan.

The project monitoring and controlling phase is concerned with the progression and performance of the project and it ensures that all activities or tasks are aligned with the project management plan.  KPIs (key performance indicators) are used by project managers to determine if the project is moving as per the scheduled plan or not. Below KPIs can be considered by a project manager to measure the performance of a project:

Quality Deliverables: To monitor if particular task deliverables are being achieved.

Project Objectives: Measures if a project is as per the schedule.

Tracking of Effort and Cost: This tracking indicates whether a project will be completed on its completion date according to its current performance level.

Project Performance: This KPI keeps track of the project changes. It considers different issues that may arise and ensures that these issues are addressed quickly.

Project Closure Phase

This is the final phase of the project management life cycle. This stage includes finalization and transfer of all deliverables, signing off all documentation, and their approval.

This phase of the project management life cycle ensures the following:

  • The completion of the whole project work as per the plan and scope of the project.
  • The execution of all project management processes.
  • Receiving final approval and sign-off from all stakeholders.

This phase also provides an opportunity to review and evaluate the performance of the project so that the future success of the process can be ensured.

Steps in Project Closure

Below steps are involved in the closing of a project:

Transferring all Deliverables Formally

This is the first step in project closing and includes finalizing and transferring the deliverables of the project to the client. It ensures that all deliverables are completed and handed over to the client.

Confirmation of the Project Completion

This step confirms that the project is completed. Before the formal closure of the project, each team member of the project is required to agree on the completion of the project.

It is essential to take approvals for the deliverables of the project for the confirmation of the project’s completion. In other words, all stakeholders are required to agree that all parts of the project plan are delivered. It also requires formal sign-offs from stakeholders.

Reviewing Contracts and other Documentation

The closure of the contract can be started once the process of project handover and approval receiving is done from the clients. During this step, the project documentation is reviewed that ensures the payment has been done to all stakeholders for their work and no outstanding invoices are pending.

Releasing Resources

This step consists of formally releasing resources i.e. team members, contractors, suppliers, etc. from the project. This also includes notifying all stakeholders or resources about the end of the project, confirming any pending final payments or other obligations, and releasing them on an official basis.

Project Review

This step is considered one of the important steps of the closure phase of the project.  This includes reviewing the challenges, successes, and failures of the project and determining opportunities for further improvement.

This step starts with a project’s performance review in which the performance of the project is calculated in terms of quality, schedule, and cost.

The next step includes conducting a survey or meeting with the project management team to gather feedback regarding the performance of the project. Project performance and individual feedback, both help in identifying opportunities in the future.

Keeping Record of Documentation

Once the project review is done, all documentation can be finalized such as costs, contracts, schedule, outline, project plans, scope, and these documents can be indexed in the organization’s records for future reference.

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