Project life cycle

The project management life cycle describes the key processes for achieving a successful project. For every billion dollars invested in projects by companies in the United States, $122 million was spent due to a lack of project management, according to research by the Project Management Institute.

Wasted money and resources can be prevented by effective project management, as 57% of failed projects fail due to communication disruptions.

Each project goes through a project life cycle, which consists of five phases of project management: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control, and closure.

Initiation phase

This is the initial stage in which the project manager must prove that the project has value and is feasible. This includes creating a business case that justifies the need for the project and a feasibility study proving that it can be done within a reasonable time and cost. Each of the phases of the life cycle has several steps that summarize the necessary processes for that phase.

In the this phase, these are:


Each project requires certain documentation that must be prepared before a project can seriously begin, such as a business case, stating the reasons why the project is needed, the project objectives, and what the return on investment will be. Also, there is a feasibility study to determine if the project is possible at all, given the resources and business goals of the organization.


Resources are needed to execute any project. Before a project schedule can be created, a project team must be created to cover the necessary skills and requirements of the project. This includes making a job description, what the goal is and what their responsibilities will be in the project. All this information can be put in the team charter later.


A project management office is usually a physical space set up for a project manager. Determining where this will be is part of the initial phase of the project. This space will house not only the project manager, but also any support staff. Thus, infrastructure needs to be set up for the project management office, which includes having project management software and all the necessary equipment for the project.


Document the goals, scope, and results of the project that you previously identified as the employment contract between the project owner and those working on the project.


Planning phase

Once the project is approved, the project moves to the second phase of project management: project planning. The aim of this phase is to develop a project plan, which will be a guide for the next two phases.

During this phase of the project management lifecycle, break down a larger project into smaller tasks, build your team, and prepare a schedule to complete tasks. Create smaller goals within a larger project, taking care that each of them is achievable in a time frame. Smaller goals should have great potential for success.

The steps for the project planning phase may include the following:


Tasks are smaller activities that are upgraded to the final result in a project. These are basically tiny projects and recognizing them is a crucial step in project planning. Develop a to-do list by placing the final project at the top of the work breakdown structure, which is a tree diagram that maps the path to project completion without missing vital steps along the way.


Some tasks require team members to execute and other resources, which may include materials, tools, etc. Budgeting is a way of estimating project costs.


There are always sudden changes; and some are beyond your control. Before starting a project, you should try to identify risks and have a risk management plan that will monitor them and respond quickly.


Good communication means a successful project. A clear communication plan ensures that the people to be informed will be informed in a timely manner, along with the required level of information, frequency and how they will receive it.


The Gantt chart is the preferred method used by project managers to plan their projects. Some tasks depend on others before they can begin or end, and these task dependencies can create bottlenecks later in the project. Connecting them to Gantt creates progress to avoid slowing down the schedule. Projects can be divided according to milestones, diamond symbols, which mark the end of one phase and the beginning of the next.


Just ideas until they are given to a member of the execution team. All the preparation you put into planning depends on delegating that task to the team so that they can do what they are hired to do.

Consolidate the goals, scope, and results of the project that you previously identified as an employment contract between the project owner and those working on the project.


Execution phase

The third phase of project management is project execution, when the tasks and milestones listed in the plan are addressed in order to deliver the result to the satisfaction of the client or stakeholders.

Along the way, the project manager will reallocate resources as needed to keep the team working. In addition, it will identify and mitigate risks, deal with problems, and incorporate any changes.

The execution phase turns your plan into action. The job of the project manager at this stage of the project management life cycle is to keep track of the work, organize team members, manage deadlines and ensure that the work is done according to the original plan.


To ensure that a task is performed correctly, it should be managed in every step, from planning to completion. This includes monitoring and reporting to ensure that the task is performed within the time frame of the planned schedule. Project managers and team members need to manage their tasks. Task lists and kanban boards are two popular task management tools.


Once a schedule is created, it must be monitored during project execution to ensure it stays on track. Proper schedule management outlines a path that will adjust task progress, goals, priorities, and deadlines to the schedule. Effective scheduling management means higher productivity. Project management software should have time tracking features that help in this process.


Just as a schedule is planned, so is a budget. Project costs must be controlled to be within the agreed budget.


Deliveries should be made on time and within budget, but if quality is lacking, the project is not successful. Therefore, make sure that the performance criteria and quality requirements set by the stakeholders are met.


In general, change management is the process of improving business processes, budget allocation, and business in an organization. However, when applied to project management, the focus narrows to the project itself and controls changes in scope during the execution phase.


There are few projects that can be implemented without a purchase, lease, or contract with external resources. This process is called procurement. Supplier relationship management is what procurement management is.


Resources are all that is needed to execute a project. This includes the team, supplies, equipment, materials, etc. Resource planning includes the roles and responsibilities of the team, what they will need, and where they will work.


Once project execution begins, planning comes first, but team members must have the tools to work together to stay in close communication. This leads to higher productivity. Collaboration can be facilitated by team building exercises and tools that connect team members, whether they are in the same office or work remotely.


Monitoring and control phase

The fourth phase of project management, project monitoring and control, takes place simultaneously with the project execution phase. It includes monitoring the progress and performance of the project to ensure it stays within deadlines and within budget. Quality control procedures are applied to guarantee quality assurance.


During project execution, a person constantly monitors their progress from all angles and does their best to control the process to maintain the schedule and budget of the project plan. We can summarize this technique as a constant check of the actual performance of the project in relation to the planned performance.

When anomalies occur, it offers an opportunity to resolve them quickly, in order to maintain control. There are many project controls, such as project strategy, methodology, risk management, quality and resources, etc.


Reporting has a double impact on the project. One is one that allows project managers to track progress, and the other provides information to stakeholders during presentations to keep them up to date.

Project reports can vary from task progress to deviations and costs. There are reports on project and portfolio status, timesheets, workload, allocation and costs. All reports can be customized to obtain the required data.


Depending on the project management methodology you follow, there are many visual tools like the Kanban board, which you can apply to see what the finished results are to keep your project on track.


The final stage

Once your team has finished working on the project, you enter the final phase. In the final stage, you provide the final results, free up project resources and determine the success of the project. Just because the main work on a project has been done doesn’t mean the job of a project manager is done - important things still need to be done, including assessing what worked with the project and what didn’t.


This marks the end of project execution and the beginning of project closure. Therefore, ensure that all delivered products are identified, completed and handed over to the appropriate party.


Confirmation of all stakeholders, clients, even the team is required at this stage.


Usually, the project manager is responsible for reviewing all contracts and documentation to make sure everything is in order and whether it is checked out. Sometimes in larger organizations there is an administrator for this job.


Before the project is completed, the team, all contract workers, leases, etc., must be officially announced. Establish a notification process and ensure that everyone is paid.


A post-mortem is when a finished project is analyzed to define what worked and what didn’t. This is a great way to replicate success and correct mistakes for the next project.


7 effective project management tips

Define the scope of the project

This is the first step in any project that appears in the project launch phase. As part of the project scope, you will find out what you want to achieve. Set project goals and highlight points that are not covered by the scope.

It is best practice to record everything important on paper or in some kind of digital document. Think from a broad perspective to see where you will implement your project-related ideologies in the near future.

This step is performed at the very beginning of the phase of your project. As you design the scope of your project, you should start broadly and narrow the focus of your project. Present the scope of your project with the CEO and other stakeholders.

Determine the time sequence of the project

Determining the timing of your project is very important. "When will your project be finished?", "How much time will you set aside for each task in the project?" You will need to answer these questions in this step. At the time of project creation, you can estimate the time for each task along with the project, but the project deadline is fixed and usually does not change.

Evaluate your available resources

Identifying available resources will help you prepare for the start of the project. An assessment of available human resources, investments, machinery and equipment is required to identify any bottlenecks in the execution of your project.

However, you will not usually have direct control over your resources. Some people perform better than others, so the outcome varies from project to project. As a project manager, it is your responsibility to manage all the shortcomings and risks in your project. Maybe it’s the right time to try out project and risk management applications.

Create a project plan

When you receive feedback on all three steps; project scope, project timeline and available resources from top management, aggregate data to help yourself develop a project plan. The project plan includes your project schedule and task flow, resources, critical path, and network diagram.

Use project management software

Today, most companies digitize their business, digitally enter and store data. However, gathering data in multiple different places and documents can be confusing, time-consuming, and can often lead to loss or failure in finding the information you need.

Various software companies in the market, such as Trello, offer project management software aimed at a wide audience. There is also software for a narrow market industry, such as MachineDesk, production management software, and projects designed for the hardware market.

Delegate work

If you’re a team leader, project manager, or business owner, it doesn’t mean you have to do all the work yourself. Establish a practice of delegating your work to your team so you can focus more on monitoring and control.

Try to assign tasks to your team according to their skills and abilities. Learn the strengths of your team and use them to your advantage.

Document everything

You may have a good memory, but you still need to document everything from start to finish so you won’t miss anything. Create records for each step and task.

Whenever you make adjustments to your projects or a new requirement is involved in the execution of your project, you should keep a record of such deviations to be ahead of the curve. This will help you review your project before the final project delivery date.


Project management is not an easy task. Project managers are leaders. They must motivate their teams as well as plan, monitor and report on their progress. It is a job that requires a lot of knowledge. They must have strong communication skills and be able to connect clearly with stakeholders and the project team.

Project management is very important for the organization that manages the project. The team leader must understand the project life cycle, risks, and risk management to create a strategy for project success. Moreover, the application of the appropriate tool during the assessment of the duration of the procedure, taking into account the limitations, can lead to the achievement of the project goal and bring satisfaction to the team, organization and stakeholders.

What do you believe is the key for successful project management?

Klara Markotić
Content Creator at MachineDesk with a particular interest in marketing and social media.