Understanding the Project Management Life Cycle

While it’s important that your company imposes a structure on as many business operations as possible, if you also handle unique projects on a regular basis, you’ll want a proven strategy for achieving their desired outcomes. This is why understanding the project management life cycle is vital to your company’s success.
Understanding the Project Management Life Cycle
Understanding the Project Management Life Cycle
Now, let’s look at the four main phases of the project management life cycle, each of which is essential.


During initiation, you create an overview of the project as well as a strategy for securing its success.

Importance – If this phase is not handled correctly, the rest of the project management life cycle will suffer or even fail.

Roles – At the very least, you will need a project manager. You may also require other subordinate roles depending on the scope of the project. 

  • Appoint a project manager
  • Appoint subordinate roles as necessary 
  • Create the over and strategy
  • Decide what technology/resources will be required 
Documents that should be delivered:
  • An outline and strategy for the project (including what must happen for it to be considered successful).


Now you must take your plan and break it down into individual steps. It is essential that you not try to attack a project all at once. 
The importance – Groups often fail or fall short of their projects’ aims because they didn’t have a detailed plan of attack. Your strategy from the last step will be of no use if you don’t plot out each step of it.

Roles - Project Manager, Sponsor and key stakeholders.

  • Create a detailed plan that covers the aforementioned strategy from step one.
  • Do a risk assessment of your plan.
  • Define what criteria must be present for the result to be considered a success.
Documents that should be delivered 
  • The detailed plan.
  • A risk assessment. 
  • A chain of command if necessary .


In this step of your project management cycle process, you are applying the detailed plan. 

The importance – This is the culmination of the last two steps. Your success will come down to how well you execute your plan and remain aware of certain constraints like cost, time and performance. 

Roles - Project Manager and Project Team.

  • Build the team.
  • Perform the required work.
  • Produce necessary deliverable (e.g. the credentials for success). 
  • Documents that should be delivered. 
  • This step should result in the deliverable for which your project was designed.


This final step can be seen as a way of preparing for the next project. You are looking back on the effectiveness of these last three steps and drawing out relevant lessons for the future. 

The importance – Although it’s easy to overlook this step of the project management life cycle, it will have a huge impact on how effective your attempts are in the future. Closure is also about returning resources so that other groups are able to access them.
An administrator tasked with recording the project and any relevant lessons
  • Transferring deliverable to the next group or customer.
  • Relinquishing resources to other projects/groups.
  • Recording lessons learned for future use.
  • Closing out any administrative elements. 
Documents that should be delivered 
  • You should have a record of the project that is saved for future reference
  • Any notes that would help other groups with similar projects should be shared
As you can see, each step of the project management life cycle has its place and importance. Don’t make the mistake of moving too quickly through one or skipping it altogether. With practice, this discipline will become second nature. You’ll apply it with ease and reap amazing results time and time again. 
Swapnil Wale

Written by

Swapnil Wale is an IT Professional based in Sydney, Australia with over 10 years of experience in technology and project management. He is a passionate blogger and focuses on project management and BRMS articles.


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