A project’s life cycle is the summation of several phases, from the beginning (Initiation), to the end (Closure). Common project life cycles include a start, then organizing and preparing. The next step is to ‘do the work’ and then finally close the project. This article will discuss the Project Life Cycle.
Take part in our 100% online & self-paced 1-hour PMP training.
What phases is a project’s life cycle? What are the differences in project characteristics across the project lifecycle? What are the most popular models?
A project life cycle includes different phases. A phase is a group of activities that are logically linked together in a project. A deliverable is usually created when all these activities are completed. These phases generally follow each other. The project life cycle for a “House Construction” project begins with the award of a contract to a builder/contractor to build the house. It ends when the builder hands over the house to the owner.
As you can see, there are four phases to this project’s life cycle. The design phase is where the requirements are defined. Logically, the only way to prepare drawings is to know the requirements of your house. This includes the number of rooms, layout, and the total number of levels. The approved drawings and specifications that will be required for the construction phase or ‘build’ phase mark the end of the design process.
In every life cycle, the number of phases and their names don’t have to be the same. What makes it different? Each domain or function may have its own name. A traditional waterfall model for software development might have ‘Analysis, Design’, and ‘Develop’. The phases of drug development in the pharmaceutical industry would include ‘Research’ and ‘Pre-Clinical’.
Characteristics of phases:
Phases have a start-end date and an end date. There are intermediate control points or milestones.
Depending on the deliverables, funding availability, and domain, phases can be sub-divided. Software development is an example of a phase. It includes the analysis. This can be broken down into requirements collection, analysis and review. To indicate completion of requirements collection and review, milestones can be set.
Although phases are generally sequential, they can overlap. Testing the software program might begin before the other modules are developed. The term “fast-tracking” is used to describe the process of overlapping phases. Rework may be necessary because the next phase begins without the completion the previous phase.
Work done in a phase may need specific skills and each phase may involve different departments/organizations. In software development, the design phase includes a Technical Architect, while development involves programmers. Testing can be performed by a separate department, or outsourced to another company. Testing requires the ability to spot errors and verify that everything is correct.
The deliverables from a phase are often input to the next phase.
At the end of each phase, a review is performed. This review determines whether it is worthwhile/needed to move on to the next phase. This review is also known as a ‘Phase end review’ or a “Stage gate review” or a “Kill point”.
Each phase does not require the same amount of effort or take the same time to complete.
What is the difference between Project life cycle and Product life cycle?
The Product Life Cycle covers all phases, starting with the ideation of the product and moving on to development, delivery, growth and maturity (phase out). A product can have more than one project cycle. A project is, for example, the ideation stage in which a new concept for a hybrid car is created – a combination between a traditional internal combustion engine or gasoline engine and an electric one – is a project. Design and