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Project Life Cycle Review

Project Life Cycle Review

Author: Jeff Carroll

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Source: Image of four phases flow, male project sponsor, bullseye, female project manager presenting, meeting attendees, Creative Commons, Kelly Eddington; Image of checkered flag, Creative Commons, ; Image of project schedule, Public Domain,

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Hi. I'm Jeff, and in this lesson we'll review what we've learned about the project life cycle and the role of the project manager in each phase of the project. So let's get started.

A project manager must always keep the final goals of the project in mind. And each phase of a project is a necessary step in a project's progress. The sequence of phases is known as the project life cycle, and the end result of this life cycle will be the project deliverables. Those are the goal of the project.

The project manager will lead the project through four phases. Phase one, beginning the project. Phase two, planning the project. Phase three, managing the project. And phase four, closing the project.

In phase one, beginning the project, it's the project manager's responsibility to identify the stakeholders and gather their expectations. This is a critical part of the project manager's role, as all future work on a project will be defined by the expectation set in this phase. Once these expectations have been gathered, they will be used to define the project scope.

The scope of the project will include the goals and objectives for the work. What does the project hope to accomplish? What problem will the project solve?

The deliverables-- the project manager must identify all deliverables clearly in this phase, or costly changes will occur later in the project. Requirements-- the details about the deliverables and how they will perform is documented in the requirements. Assumptions-- every project makes assumptions about the future work, and these should be documented.

Estimates-- in this phase, the project manager creates rough estimates for the schedule, budget, and the resources needed to accomplish the work. Risks-- risk management begins in this phase. Any risks that may impact the project in a negative way should be documented. And project governance-- with each project, there are organizational structures, levels of authority, and methods for approval of work stages and deliverables. The project manager must document this governance during this phase so future team members understand each process.

The material and information from phase one will then be used in phase two, planning the project. In this phase, the documents that describe how work will proceed, who will do the work, and how much it will cost are created. The project manager must first create a work breakdown structure. This describes the activities and tasks and the sequence in which they must occur to finally create the project deliverables.

From the work breakdown structure, the project manager then constructs a detailed schedule that outlines the tasks, assigns team members to the tasks, and shows the effort and time needed to complete the work. If tasks must be completed in a specific sequence, then they are documented as dependencies in the schedule. The project manager must cooperate with the team members to establish estimates for every task.

A resource plan which includes both person and non person resources needed to create the project deliverables is created. The project budget is defined, and should include all the material and personnel needed to complete the project successfully. The project manager is responsible for the completion of the project within this budget.

A risk management plan is created. If a risk has a high enough impact or a high enough probability of occurring, then contingencies to address the risk should be defined and documented by the project manager. The communication plan is created. This defines how information will flow between different members of the project team, and how stakeholders can provide necessary feedback on the project's activity.

The team is also assembled during this phase. Based on the requirements and the needs of the schedule, the project manager should confirm that all necessary skills are provided by the team. If skill gaps exist, then the project manager should plan to fill those gaps with different team members, new hires, or outside resources.

Once the plans are in place, then phase three, managing the project, starts. In this phase, the project manager oversees the activities and tasks as outlined in the schedule. They monitor the completion of those tasks and the quality of the results. While work progresses, the project manager must constantly communicate the status of the work with stakeholders and team members. Status reports will help provide stakeholders with this information, but all available methods of communication can be used by a project manager.

When schedules or budgets or the quality of work deviates from the plan baselines, the project manager must create plans to resolve the issue. And if changes to the schedule, budget, or scope are required by this work, the project manager must also create and receive approval for change requests from the key stakeholders. This is known as change management.

Risk management occurs over the course of the project, but a majority of the issues arise during this phase. Risks must be documented and classified according to the risk matrix and contingencies must be in place for any high impact or a high probability risk. The project manager is responsible for overseeing the mitigations of any issues that occur.

And since people are the key to a successful project, the project manager must continually manage individual and team performance. Communication is key, and a project manager should confirm all team members know the goals of their work and the consequences if those goals aren't met. And they should always remember to praise people for the high quality work that they produce.

Once all scheduled tasks are complete and all deliverables are created or acquired, the project manager will begin closing the project. The first step will be confirmation that the project is ready to close. All deliverables must be verified against the requirements and quality standards determined in the planning phase and in the project scope.

The lessons learned over the course of the project must be documented. Positive and negative experiences are compiled by the project manager and archived so that future projects and other project managers can learn from the successes and the difficulties. The ownership of the project's deliverables and any knowledge needed for their operation is then transferred to the individual who will handle their implementation.

And all project information necessary for future reference is warehoused. The history of other projects is a powerful aid when defining a new project, so a project manager should help preserve this information. Now the project manager's work is done and the project is closed. And that is the life cycle of a project as seen through the eyes of a project manager.

In this lesson, we reviewed the four basic phases of a project, beginning a project, planning the project, managing the project, and closing the project. Thanks for all of your effort and your attention, and have a great day.