An Overview of the PMI Standard Project Life Cycle

An Overview of the PMI Standard Project Life Cycle
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PMI Standard Life Cycle according to PMBOK

The Project Management Institute (USA’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge) defines Project Management as ‘a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service.’ In order for this temporary endeavor to succeed, the PMI has outlined guidelines or phases which keep the project on track. Every project that is undertaken goes through a cycle known as the “Project Life Cycle”. This is the standard format for all projects irrespective of size or location, budget or service. The duration for each phase in the project life cycle may vary. Some phases may be hardly characteristic; however, a Standard Project Life Cycle takes a project from its beginning to its end in a systematic, timely and controlled manner which benefits the stakeholders.

Phases can be pictured as broken down, practical partitions of a project life cycle. Each phase is distinct in that it is outlined or determined by the completion of one or more variables. Each phase acts as a check point n the decision making tree and reviews or evaluations based on completed phases determines the continuity of the project.

Phases of a Standard Project Life Cycle

The PMI Standard Project Life Cycle typically goes through eight phases.

1. Conceptualize: This is the first phase which is characteristic of the Vision or Dream that gives rise to the creation of the project. The Vision or Dream that sets in gives way for the validation of the project need which in turn gives rise to the Project Charter. From then on, it can be said that a new project is conceived from these Visions or Dreams.

2. Plan: The Project Charter marks the starting point for the next phase which involves the mental work known as Plan. Planning is a very important phase and is responsible for a major part of the project. It involves project management skills and techniques, cost and time evaluations, determination of quality expectations and specifications and gives rise to the Work Breakdown Structure. Planning may be viewed as a map or a guide through which a project travels.

3. Organize: The planning phase gives rise to the requirements gathering for a Work Breakdown Structure. Based on the work packages, estimations of cost and time and determination of resources and manpower, different functional teams will have to be organized. Work will have to be differentiated and distributed and a temporary project team will have to come into play headed by the project manager.

4. Implement: This phase follows the ‘organize’ phase and is based upon the principle “Plan the work. Work the plan”. In short, it means to carry out whatever has been planned. Anything that is not part of the WBS is outside the scope of the project and need not be followed; however, everything that is included in the WBS will have to be implemented.

5. Control: It is not just necessary that the project plan be carried out. It needs to be reviewed, checked and monitored. This encompasses what is known as the Control Phase. The Control Phase may be part of any other practical phase as it involves monitoring for risks, issues and quality criteria.

6. Integration: Integration is a phase that overlaps the Control Phase and almost after the Implementation Phase in terms of timing. While Control monitors, Integration implements and conforms to specifications. The main feature of the integration phase is the TQM, Management practices of Six Sigma, PDCA Cycle, etc.

7. Delivery & Closeout: In this phase, the project typically comes to a close. All deliverables are met, the service or project is ready for use, contracts are terminated, the project team is dissolved, and all loose ends of the project are closed. The project in all its finesse is then handed over to the project sponsor.

8. Knowledge Leveraging: This is a phase that encompasses all phases of the project right from phases 1 to 7. The main feature though is that is it a documentation of all work done, or rather all phases and takes into consideration all forms of register documents and logs. It is helpful in reviewing the practicality of the service or the functionality of the product, and also for studies to aid in future projects.

Once a project follows the PMI Standard Project Life Cycle, it will be easier to determine, assess, work on and achieve the many targets and specifications outlined for the project.

(Image Credit: Author, Amanda Dcosta)