Project Life-Cycle Template – Key Phases of the Generic Model

project lifecycle templateThe ability of managing projects successfully greatly depends upon the right understanding of the phases and activities that create the project life-cycle. Because any kind of project is “a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product or service” (PMI 2000), it is planned, managed and delivered under a definite life-cycle, or under the process of by which the project is implemented. The life-cycle characterizes the constraint of time and defines how soon the project deliverables (product/service) will be produced.

Let’s learn more about the point in this Project Life-Cycle Template. We’re going to talk about the definition of project life-cycle and provide an overview of the key phases and activities of the generic model. Please feel free to leave your comments and other feedback.

project-lifecycle-template.doc [75Kb]

Defining Project Life-Cycle

If you’ve ever read the literature on PM, you probably know that in most PM books there is widespread agreement about conventional or general phases of project life-cycle. There are 5 general phases such as:

  • Conceptualization
  • Organization
  • Development
  • Implementation
  • Evaluation

Some books give other classifications, but the key point remains the same: any project that can be performed under an activity-based planning approach will step through the 5 phases throughout its life-cycle. It actually means that if we can plan our project as a series of activities and tasks to be undertaken in a certain desired sequence during the preset period of time, then this project appears to have the generic five-phase model.

Note that the planning approach serves as the key to defining what model to use in a particular project. Along with activity-based planning that defines the 5-phase life-cycle model there is also milestone-based planning that explores more deepened and comprehensive models.

Here’s more about both approaches:

  • Activity-based planning is used when projects are possible to plan before launch (goals and methods are well defined at the very beginning). This approach is best for engineering and construction projects.
  • Milestone-based planning is used in projects in which milestones (special progress flags that show project performance and deliverable status) represent the completion of life-cycle. It is best fitted to product development and software projects.

In this Project Life-cycle Template we focus on the activity-based planning approach. Please view the picture given below. This picture shows the 5 key phases of the generic project life-cycle model.

Generic 5-phase model of project lifecycle

Generic 5-phase model of project lifecycle

Key Phases & Activities

Below in this Project Life-cycle Template we describe the key phases by activities to be undertaken by project manager in collaboration with the senior stakeholders and experts. You can use this template as additional guidelines for planning your activity-based project.

Phase 1. Conceptualization. Purpose: define the project and prepare it for approval.

  • Define and explain the project need (what’s required?) and purpose (why is this required?)
  • State the problem to be solved by the project
  • Identify the project solution
  • List the benefits to be gained upon successful project completion
  • Develop the project concept
  • Perform a feasibility analysis to prove the project is technically feasible and economically viable
  • Identify how the project relates to other dependent/child projects running in parallel
  • Set priority to the project
  • Explain business background and strategic content
  • Determine ethical considerations
  • Define options (alternatives) to proposed solution
  • Perform an analysis to evaluate the options and prove the solution is reasonable to choose
  • Make recommendations regarding project launch
  • Develop a project proposal document and submit it for review to the sponsor

Phase 2. Organization. Purpose: to define and approve the organizational structure of the project.

  • Assign the Project Manager
  • Acquire and assemble the project team
  • Perform stakeholder analysis to identify people affected by or interested in the project, analyze their needs, and decide on involvement level (how the stakeholders are allowed to influence project decision making)
  • Determine broad scope, including:
    • Constraints & assumptions
    • Boundaries (inclusions & exclusions)
    • Deliverables
    • Requirement
    • Establish project objectives and goals
    • Identify the governance structure including
      • Roles and responsibilities
      • Functions
      • Delegations
    • Establish preliminary timeframes for project activities
    • Perform a preliminary cost assessment to develop project cost estimate
    • Undertake a preliminary risk assessment to identify expected risks and threats affecting the project
    • Develop a project organization document and submit it for review and approval to the senior management


Phase 3. Development. Purpose: to develop an implementation plan and ensure increased commitment of resources

  • Define the scope through decomposing project work into smaller action items, such as tasks and activities
  • Develop the project schedule based in activity duration estimates
  • Create the risk management plan based on the risk assessment
  • Identify types and quantity of resources (labor, funds, technology, inventories, land, etc.) required for the project
  • Develop a budget sheet based on cost projections
  • Create the communications plan
  • Determine the controls including tracking procedures, reporting rules, change management process, issue/risk logging
  • Design the quality management plan
  • Develop the procurement plan
  • Write the handover plan that explains deliverable acceptance criteria and how to hand over the product to the customer
  • Prepare the project plan that is based on the data of the subsidiary plan.

Phase 4. Implementation. Purpose: to convert the approved project plan into reality and to achieve the project objectives.

  • Start executing the project plan
  • Monitor and control changes made to the key parameters such as:
    • Scope
    • Time (schedule)
    • Cost (budget)
    • Quality
    • Issues/Risks
    • Handover Plan
  • Manage stakeholder expectations and communications
  • Report performance through status reports and meetings
  • Manage variance requests
  • Confirm the planned results are produced

Phase 5. Evaluation. Purpose: to integrate the produced outcome into the operational environment

  • Perform administrative closeout of the project and its activities
  • Communicate with the customer to agree of the deliverables acceptance
  • Implement the handover plan (transferring the deliverables to the customer)
  • Develop a handover report (whether the deliverables have successfully reached the customer)
  • Conduct a post-project meeting to summarize the work and identify lessons-learned
  • Undertake a business-benefits review to identify whether the expected benefits have been gained upon project completion
  • Announce project end and celebrate
  • Develop a project completion report and submit for approval to the senior management team (e.g. Steering Committee)
  • Archive project documentation
  • Dismiss personnel.

MyMG Team

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