What is the Project Life Cycle ?

Every project has certain phases of development.  A clear understanding of these phases allows managers and executives to maintain control of the project more efficiently.

By definition, a project has a beginning and an end and passes through several phases of development known as life cycle phases. These phases are varied depending upon the industry involved but all follow the same basic steps.

It is important to realize that the project life cycle for each project may differ, in both the number of phases it may have and the detail within each of these phases.

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The five main phases of the project life cycle are as follows:

START-UP    This phase is where the project objectives are defined and the conceptual aspects of the project agreed. This may be the phase where a problem is identified and potential solutions suggested.

DEFINITION   Once the project objectives have been clearly defined then the appraisal of the solutions is conducted in terms of risks, financial commitment and benefits. The scope of work is now defined in detail. (6 Important considerations when defining your Project)

PLANNING   This phase is where the project is broken down into manageable areas of work and planned in terms of time, cost and resources. This is a continuous process and will extend throughout the execution phase of the project.(6 Helpful hints when Planning your Project)

EXECUTION   During this phase the work is implemented, controlled and monitored.

CLOSE-OUT    The final phase of the project life cycle is close-out and demobilisation, where resources are reassigned, the project is handed over and the post-project review is carried out.(Project Close-out and handover – a general overview)

It is important to ensure the project life cycle used on your project is appropriate to the work being carried out and split into distinct and manageable phases.

The project life cycle also allows for the gate procedure to be used.  This is a tried and tested method for delivering projects on time, within budget and to the expected quality targets. At each stage, approval is generally required from outside the project team before proceeding to the next stage.

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