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Project Life Cycle & Processes

Project Life Cycle & Processes

Author: Jeff Carroll

This lesson will discuss the project life cycle.

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Source: Image of checkered flag, Creative Commons, ;Image of gantt chart, steering wheel, Creative Commons, Kelly Eddington.

Video Transcription

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Hi, I'm Jeff. And in this lesson, we'll discuss the Project Life Cycle and its Processes. Now, a project life cycle is all the phases of work that are needed to complete a project and produce the deliverables. Organizations might separate the life cycle differently, but most projects generally have four phases. And we'll go through each one of those.

So let's get started. The four phases of a life cycle are beginning a project, project planning, managing a project, and finally, project completion. Let's look at these in more detail. First, beginning a project.

This is the kick off phase of the project, and it's where the project manager is assigned and begins work. This is also where the stakeholders are identified and the scope and deliverables are defined. This might happen before the project managers assigned, but often the project manager is part of this process.

Once the scope is known, then it's time to create the first estimates for the schedule and the budget, and what resources are needed to complete the work. A more detailed schedule and budget will be developed in a later phase. When this phase is complete, all stakeholders should agree that the project can proceed.

Next, the project moves into the planning phase. A project team is assembled often with the project managers input. And once that team is in place, then everyone helps contribute to the development of a detailed schedule and budget. Tasks and responsibilities are assigned to each team member, and estimates for the work are compiled.

In this phase, it's crucial to nail down the time and the cost needed to produce the deliverables. Once the schedule and budget are approved, the tasks began and the project manager starts monitoring the work. The project manager then communicates the status of this work to the project stakeholders, including any issues positive or negative. Remember, that a project manager should communicate clearly and consistently.

Risks will also be managed at this stage. And we'll discuss this more in another lesson. But risks are the uncertainties, both known and unknown, that are encountered in every project. When they happen, it's the project manager's duty to let everyone know.

Finally, it's up to the project manager to guide individuals and the team as a whole toward common goals. This phase will end when the tasks are complete and the deliverables are ready for review. Which brings us to the project completion phase.

At this point, the deliverables created by the project are reviewed and verified, hopefully, as complete. If all requirements aren't met, then work to fix these issues must be managed, and the deliverables resubmitted when the work is done. Before everyone leaves a project, organizations will often try to capture the lessons learned over the course of the project to help improve future efforts.

And finally, the project manager will hand over the project knowledge and documentation to someone else. Then either close the project or transfer ownership to an operation or maintenance group that will use the results of the project. As you may have noticed, we spoke about approvals at each stage of the project. These are called project gates. And they are checkpoints where work must be approved before the project continues.

These gates can be planned for any point in a project, but are always at the end of phases. And it's important that the project manager lets everyone know when these gates are scheduled, and what is expected during the approval stage. That's all for the life cycle in this lesson.

As you might recall, we discussed the four phases of a project life cycle. And we learned what a project gate is. Thanks everyone. And have a great day.

Terms to Know
Project Deliverables

Defined outcomes expected to be created at the end of a project.

Project Life Cycle

A series of planned phases of work that are required to generate defined project deliverables.

Project Phase

A grouping of work that is a part of the project life cycle and contributes to the generation of project deliverables.

Project Scope 

The phase conducted at the beginning of a project where a project manager conducts research and collects information to identify specific project deliverables.