The Project Life Cycle refers to a logical sequence of activities to accomplish the project’s goals or objectives. Project activities are grouped into phases so that the project manager and the core team can efficiently plan and organize resources for each activity. By planning activities by stages the project manager can objectively measure achievement of goals and justify their decisions to move ahead, correct, or terminate.
All projects go through a life cycle that starts at the initial project inception through project shutdown. When applying Project Mechanics, it is critical to accurately assess the stage of the project in the life cycle. It is important to note that not every project will be completed. For example, some projects will not have the proper business justification to make it out of the Project Definition stage.
Here are the stages of the project life cycle for projects in the professional services arena:
Future / Opportunity - An opportunity has been identified, however, no team has been assigned to define the opportunity. At this point the project is most likely on some list of potential projects.
Project Definition - The Project Sponsor has agreed to fund the creation of a project definition. A team has been assigned to define the project and create a proposal. An accounting code is created to track all time used to define the project during the solution definition effort. A limited team is a used; the deliverable from this phase is a proposal to do the project. This phase does not include any analysis, design, comps, or documentation other than what is required to propose the work.
Proposed - A proposal has been presented to the Project Sponsor for approval. This proposal should have an expiration date and specific metrics for when the team can start (i.e. 2 weeks from approval). If resources are named, it should be noted that these resources may not be available for this project if the defined time frame is exceeded.
Approved - The Project Sponsor has approved the project proposal. The process of defining the project team and setting the project priority has begun. When a team and priority is defined, the project kickoff is scheduled.
In Progress - A team is working on the project. Weekly status reports are maintained. A formal change control process is being used to document any changes to the project charter (scope, timeline, budget).
Complete - The project has been delivered. There is no one working on the project. The project code has been closed. The final invoice has been sent. The result of the project is in production and under the control of ongoing support.
Cancelled - At any stage in the project life cycle, a project may be placed on hold, rejected or canceled.