Understanding project management – The Project lifecycle.
One part of being a project manager is understanding your project, and it’s impossible to understand a project completely without looking at its project lifecycle. Most projects follow a 4-stage project lifecycle comprised of:
- Close Out
These four stages are what take a project from an idea to completed product, each stage presents unique challenges and requirements, and it is the role of the project manager to overcome these challenges and keep the project moving. Only by understanding each stage can the challenges be overcome.
The initiation stage of a project is where the idea of the project is conceived, it is the identification of a need; the need can come in the form of a problem, or an opportunity. This is the point at which feasibility studies might be performed and scopes will be defined. The most important deliverable to come from this stage is to have a clear idea of exactly what your need is, whether it is possible to meet, and what the overall scope of the project will be. An example of these deliverables could be, I need a place to live, I am going to build a house, Yes, I have the finances to make this feasible.
The planning stage of a project takes the scope that has been determined in the initiation stage and expands it into a complete plan. Here it is important to finalize all the details like budget, timeline, required tasks, critical path, required resources, stakeholders, and other project management principles. In the case of our house building example this is where we might want to spend $500,000 build the house out of red brick and have it ready to live in within 1 year. The tasks involved will be laying of the slab, the laying of the bricks, putting the roof on top and the installation of required services.
This stage of the project is where all the planning is carried out. This will be straightforward providing everything goes according to plan, however often unexpected problems arise through no fault of anyone involved. At this point the project management must use their best judgement to ensure the project remains on track and continues moving towards the overall goals outlined in the initiation phase. For the housing example, its possible a large storm delays the building of the house, in this case the project manager could encourage the team to work weekends to make up the time, get additional people in to move the work along faster, or accept the project will be delayed; the correct option will depend on the goals outlined at the beginning of the project.
At this stage of the project all the work has been completed however there are usually still tasks to do including handing over the project, finalizing documentation, releasing project resources, ensuring everyone gets paid and conducting a lessons learned. The challenges that arise here are often based on feedback from the stakeholders and making sure that lessons learned are recorded in a way that will assist with future projects. In the case of our housing example the lesson learned might be to allow time for storms, or to ensure clients know that storms will result in delays to the project prior to the execution phase.
Rapallo’s project management teams are experts in managing projects all the way from initiation to close out, to see how we can assist with your next capital project contact us today.