Project Lifecycle

November 28, 2014

Every project has a definite start and an end. A project goes through different stages right from the initiation till its completion. The series of stages is called as the project lifecycle. Each stage again has a defined beginning and an end depending on the type of project. A joke defines these stages as Enthusiasm, Disillusionment, Panic, Search for the guilty, Punishment of the innocent and Praise and honour for the non-participants. But that is surely not something we want to experience. The four stages in the project lifecycle are:

1.Initiation – Project initiation includes activities done at the beginning of the project like defining the scope and objectives of the project. The required resources are identified. Timeline, project structure and success parameters are defined. The final deliverables are defined and an alignment of stakeholders’ expectations and project purpose is achieved.

2.Planning – The project manager creates detailed plans in this stage. There are different aspects to project management like Cost, Quality, Time, Resources, Financials, Risks etc. A plan for each aspect is made and signed off with the client. The project team is identified and their roles and responsibilities are defined.

3.Execution – The project plan is put in to action. Each task in the project plan is carried out as per the schedule by the resource assigned to it. The project manager closely monitors the tasks, tracks their status, and communicates with stakeholders regularly. The project manager juggles the parameters of cost, time, scope, quality and risk and takes actions and decisions to ensure that the project meets its objectives.

4.Closure – The project is evaluated as per success parameters defined in the project plan and determined if it is a successful one or not. All processes are completed. Hand-over steps are arranged for if required. Customer acceptance is obtained from the client. A post project review is undertaken wherein the lessons learned are documented for future reference. All project participants are informed about the project closure.

There are different project lifecycles used today depending on type of project, client and technology. Each lifecycle has the project phases adapted in a different way –

Project Life Cycle

Predictive – In the predictive lifecycle, the project is planned from a scope, time and cost perspective very early on. For example, an upgrade project by an automotive company to develop an application for dealer management using upgraded technology that would last 8 months can use a predictive lifecycle approach as most project variables are known. The deliverable can be given at the end of the 8 months period. It will have the phases in a sequential order –

Iterative – A project adopts an iterative approach when project phases or iterations are repeated and the project is developed incrementally. This is used when requirements are not clear at the beginning or there are many change requests expected or the client wants to see some aspects of the end product immediately and then develop new ideas. The application is built in increments with each increment having more requirements built in.


Project Life Cycle

Adaptive – Adaptive lifecycle is used when agile methodology is required for the project. This is used when many changes are expected and fast response is required for these changes. When stakeholder involvement is very high, an adaptive lifecycle is helpful.

In this lifecycle, there will be a basic overall plan but the phases can be overlapping, there could be one increment build that is in the design stage and another one in the test stage and a third one in the planning phase. At the beginning of each iteration, the requirements based on priority and criticality that need to be delivered are determined and these are given to the client for review at the end of the iteration.

Iteration 1

Iteration 2

Iteration 3

Plan & Analyse

Plan & Analyse

Plan & Analyse

Design

Design

Design

Develop

Develop

Develop

Test

Test

Test

Project Status Active Phase

Project Status Active Phase

Every project is different and has its own challenges. A project manager should understand the requirements and complexities of the project in hand and decide the best lifecycle to be adopted so that the project is successful.

You can learn more about Project Management here.

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About the Author
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Vidya Kumar is a management graduate with 14 years of experience in the IT industry managing complex Software Projects across various industry verticals. She has around 6 years experience in content development. She has co-authored two eBooks and writes regularly on personal finance, IT, travel and other business topics.

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