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What Is a Project in Project Management: Life cycle, Characteristics, Examples and More

Published On: January 2, 2023

There is a lot of pressure on businesses to perform exceptionally well in today’s global marketplace, so it’s important that they adopt the best methods and programs possible to do so. Businesses must take a methodical approach to their daily operations if they want to remain competitive. For this reason, modern businesses frequently turn to project management in order to roll out novel initiatives.

In your mind, what is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “project management?” A project is, in layman’s terms, any coordinated effort to complete a certain set of tasks in order to meet specific organizational objectives. Managing and executing a Project is what Project Management is all about.

In this article, we will discuss the fundamentals of project management, the stages of a project’s life cycle, and important management tasks necessary to complete a project successfully.

Project Management

Project management is the application of expertise in planning, organizing, leading, controlling, and monitoring the completion of a project in accordance with its defined scope, objectives, and parameters, and within the established constraints of cost and schedule.

The term “project management” refers to a set of procedures and guidelines used to guide a project from its inception to its conclusion. It entails procedures to determine what is needed, develop a strategy to set reasonable and attainable goals, then carry out the strategy until the project’s objectives are met.

Time, scope, and quality are the “three constraints” of project management, and keeping them under control is essential for a project’s successful completion. It would be extremely challenging for businesses to deliver projects successfully and with the desired results if project management and goal attainment were not approached in a systematic manner.

An Overview of Project Management

In today’s business climate, when firms are undertaking mission-critical initiatives like Digital Transformation, Know Your Customer, Mergers & Acquisitions, Business Expansion, etc. The requirement for efficiently managing projects has become the responsibility of all organizations. Project management is crucial to the success of any firm, no matter how large or little. Project management is gaining traction and relevance across all economic sectors.

The project management life cycle is a simplified, high-level description of the work required to bring a project to fruition. To put it simply, the project management life cycle is the systematic, sequential, and methodical procedure via which a project is conceived, designed, and carried out in order to achieve the goals set out by those responsible for providing the project’s money.

In order to successfully guide a project from its inception to its conclusion, project managers break the entire undertaking down into discrete phases. Although these steps are listed in a certain order, in reality, many of them would likely overlap or be used simultaneously throughout the course of a project.

The Project Management Life Cycle

To put it simply, the project life cycle is a set of procedures for systematically developing a concept into a finished product. There are typically five distinct stages in a project’s life cycle. These phases include 

  • Project initiation
  • Project planning
  • Project execution
  • Project monitoring and control 
  • Project closure. 

We’ll take it one step at a time and look at each of these phases in detail.

Steps in the Project Life Cycle

Project Initiation

The purpose of this first phase of project management is to establish whether or not the project can actually be initiated. This requires thinking about whether or not it is possible to carry out the project. Proving the project’s value is crucial at this point, too. Whenever a viable business case has been established, a project manager is appointed, and work on the endeavor officially begins. The expected outcomes will be stated, and the teams who will be working on them will be specified at a high level.

Project Planning

At every stage of a project’s life cycle, careful planning is crucial. At this point, preparation is required in the following areas:

Project plan: A project plan is a document that outlines the many tasks that must be completed, the phases that must be performed, and any interdependencies between the project’s tasks. What comes out of this process is a Gantt chart and a work breakdown schedule (WBS) that lays out in detail the tasks that need to be completed and by when.

Resource Plan: The resource plan lays out the timeline for completing activities as well as the number of employees who will be required to do them. In order to complete the project within the allotted budget, financial resources must also be taken into account.

Risk Management Plan: A risk management plan will highlight the most significant threats to the project and how they will be mitigated. It identifies the likelihood of their occurrence and the possible consequences should they occur. The strategy lays forth the steps that will be taken to reduce the impact of any negative outcomes.

Communication Plan: Plan for communicating with relevant parties at appropriate times. This strategy should make it easy to determine how frequently and with what information each stakeholder group should be updated.

Acceptance Plan: An acceptance plan is drawn up to specify the conditions under which a project will be accepted as finished.

Project Execution

At this point in the project’s timeline, everyone involved in the endeavor begins implementing the established strategy. Each step is carried out, and tasks are completed, as intended. The project manager keeps tabs on the project’s goals and milestones to make sure everything is on schedule. The project manager will correct any deviations as soon as they are discovered. At this stage, team members should be well briefed on their responsibilities. There can be times when instruction is required. Team members will also require direction regarding the expected quality and the acceptance strategy. As a result, this aids in ensuring quality is maintained. During this phase, it is crucial that the communication strategy be adhered to exactly. Everyone involved in the project needs to be updated on its status at regular intervals, with the update frequency varying according to the nature of the stakeholder. Issues with the project could arise from either excessive or insufficient communication.

Project Monitoring and Control

The monitoring and control phase of a project is essential to its success while it is underway. The following are some examples of possible monitoring targets:

  • The budget for the project must be tracked on a regular basis in order to keep expenditures under line. The costs of a project can quickly get out of hand if this step is skipped. Dissatisfied stakeholders result if this isn’t kept under control.
  • Time should be tracked to make sure everyone is on task and that enough time has been set out for activities. Unless this is the case, the project manager will need to make changes to keep things on track.
  • Keeping an eye on potential threats is crucial to reducing their impact on the project as it progresses. It’s possible that as time passes, the likelihood of some threats increases. Managing them as they arise is crucial to avoiding project delays or failure.
  • As a project develops, it is not uncommon for the scope to shift slightly. One reason to keep an eye on the project’s trajectory and make sure any adjustments are warranted is so that nobody makes a mistake. This is done so that the business owner can anticipate the time and money needed to implement the adjustments. That way, they may decide whether or not to proceed based on accurate information.
  • In order to guarantee a happy client at the end of the project, it is crucial to keep a close eye on quality control.
  • User approval must be tracked during software testing to guarantee that the final product is sufficiently satisfactory for end users.

Project Closure

Project managers are more prone to skim through the final, closure phase of a project. This is not advised, as the final stage of a project includes necessary processes that can’t be skipped. Several aspects need to be taken into account right now. Consider conducting a thorough analysis of the project’s success in meeting its objectives. Individual contributions to the team’s success should be factored into any assessment of their performance at this point. To ensure a smooth handoff at the end of a project, it’s important to double-check all documentation. Because of this, you may rest assured that all loose ends have been resolved. This includes passing over paperwork and signing off on any final contracts, as well as terminating any arrangements with suppliers. When a project comes to a close, it’s crucial to reflect on its successes and failures. The next time you take on a similar assignment, you’ll be more prepared if you take the time to analyze and evaluate the insights you learned. As a result, future initiatives can benefit from enhanced efficiency. This is crucial in order to improve one’s agility in the field of software project management.

Illustrations of the Project Management Life Cycle

Example 1

Relocation of a startup company 

Project initiation

A new, rapidly expanding business has surpassed its humble beginnings. It is not only necessary but practical, for the company to relocate to a new location. A new office is found, and the office manager is promoted to the position of project manager. The project receives the approval to proceed ahead.

Project planning

Plan creation falls under the purview of the project manager. Since the new office won’t be ready to begin operations until Monday, it’s evident that a lot of preparation work must be done over the last weekend in the old one. There needs to be communication between the various teams involved in the project to guarantee that personnel can and will be available when needed. There is a chance that the phones won’t work on Monday morning due to technical issues, and that’s just one of the risks listed.

Project execution

The week prior to the actual relocation, as much work as feasible is completed in order to minimize downtime. In order to ensure that the relocation goes smoothly, everyone has been given a thorough briefing. The groups are responsible for labeling and packing their office supplies. On Saturday and Sunday, the project manager will be present to oversee progress.

Project monitoring and control

Due to careful preparation, everything is proceeding as planned. There is no guarantee that the phones will be operational by Monday at 9 a.m., according to the phone company. On Monday, a message is delivered to customers reminding them to use their mobile phones instead of landlines.

Project closure

Before returning the keys to the previous workplace, one last inspection is conducted to confirm that all tasks have been finished. It’s generally agreed that the project went perfectly and that customers were pleased with the company’s continued high level of service throughout the transition to a new office.

Example 2

Software Application Development

Project initiation

An established business has recognized a need in the market for a software solution that will facilitate the monitoring of employee time. Early in a project’s development, an optimistic assessment of the market’s potential is common. The time and money needed to complete the project are predicted. The plan is approved. An expert project manager is recruited to direct and coordinate the effort.

Project planning

A project’s roadmap is something the manager of that project creates. As he delves more into the planning process, he discovers that specialized assistance will be required for the delivery of a portion of the program. He brings it to the attention of the management. As a result, the total cost of the project has increased by £2,000, but the company’s owner has decided to proceed nevertheless. Internal personnel is given instructions on what to do.

Project execution

The beginning stages of the project have been completed. Every day, the project manager checks in to make sure everyone is still on track. Someone becomes sick and takes time off after breaking an arm. The project manager can work with the head of the development team to arrange for someone else to take over the role temporarily.

Project monitoring and control

The company’s CEO decides midway through the software development process that it would be nice to include some more functionality. The project manager informs the company CEO through the project change management procedure that this will add £50,000 to the project budget and cause a three-month delay in the project’s completion. The company’s leader makes the decision not to alter the project’s course.

Project closure

The evaluation conducted during the project’s final phase reveals that more time and effort may have been spent during the project’s inception better defines the requirements of a project. This would have prevented the discovery of an additional feature late in the process for which no room was available. For future projects, the group has decided to implement a more stringent requirement sign-off step.


Projects function more smoothly when their managers have a firm grasp on what goes down at each stage of the project life cycle. Project management assists in guiding a project through the project management life cycle, assuring that all aspects of vision, planning, and execution are taken into account.

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