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Case Study: Phase 1

Case Study: Phase 1

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What's Covered

In this lesson, you'll discuss a case study for a real world project. You'll go through all four phases of the project life cycle, covering one each in the lesson.  Specifically you will focus on:

  1. Phase 1
  2. Project Governance

1. PHASE 1

The case study that you'll be using is the development and construction of a highly energy efficient house for a couple. The couple wishes to move out of their larger home, and into a smaller place to save money.

The general contractor for a home construction is actually a project manager by another name, so you'll refer to this individual as a project manager throughout these lessons.

Here are the steps in the context of this project.


The project manager must first identify the stakeholders:

  • The couple building the house will be the key stakeholders for the project
  • The architect should be considered a stakeholder since this is an energy efficient house

Next, the project manager goes through the process to gather expectations from the stakeholders:

  • The homeowners, architect and project manager work closely to define those expectations
  • The homeowners discuss often in general terms, what they want.

The architect and project manager provide the knowledge and the expertise to make those expectations realistic, and define the scope of the project.

Project scope

The first step when defining a project scope is to determine the goals and objectives.

In this case, the homeowners wish to take advantage of modern construction methods and materials to create an energy efficient home. However, they don't want to spend too much money adding those improvements. So one goal for our project will be:

  • To create a home that is above average in energy efficiency, but does not cost more than 15% over the cost of an average home.


The project manager must define the project deliverables. For this project, the deliverable will be the house.


These flow from the expectations, goals, and objectives that the homeowners and the architect have for the home, and must be documented.

Example  Say that the homeowners want to make greater use of the solar energy from the sun while still keeping the cost of the home down. The architect might suggest:

  • Solar panels shouldn’t be used since they exceed the budget.
  • The house can instead have the majority of its windows on the south side
  • These windows will receive sun during winter to help heat the home

If the homeowners agree, suggestion is documented by the project manager as a requirement for the home.


These are documented next, as they help define what is expected to happen in the future and how that impacts the project. One assumption for this project might be:

  • More efficient heating systems will be on the market and ready for installation by the time the house is built.

If this assumption turns out to false, the project will need to be changed.


These must be made for the schedule and the budget of the home. Since the homeowners in our project wish to remain 15% above the cost of an average home, the project manager could:

  • Research the cost of an average home, then add 15% to reach the desired budget.
  • Use similar construction projects to create a timeline for the work and possible move-in day.


One possible risk for our project would be if the architect warns the project manager that in previous projects:

  • When the temperature increased in the summer, the greater amount of windows on the south side caused the home to overheat.

A contingency that might be put in place to handle this risk:

  • The installation of overhangs that shield the southern windows in summer

The risk and its contingency should documented by the project manager.


This is documented list. In our house project, any change request for the home must be approved by the homeowners and the architect before the project can be changed. The architect must also approve all work at the end of each phase before the project can proceed to the next phase.

During phase one, the project manager decides on the methods that will be used to manage the project. In this case, the phase-based method would be used since the construction of a home is very sequential, with clear dependencies and well-defined requirements.

From this information, the project manager then facilitates the creation of the project scope documents, including any supporting material to help to find the project scope. In our project, the supporting material would be:

  • Blueprints for the home
  • The list of materials approved for use in an energy efficient home.

Once these documents are complete, the project manager presents them to the homeowners and the architect for their approval. When approval is received, the project can move on to the next phase.


In this lesson, you used a real world case study to walk through phase one, the beginning of a project. Project governance is a documented list of changes.  You now understand how a project might look in this first phase.

Good luck!

Source: This work adapted from Sophia Author Jeff Carroll.