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What is Project Lifecycle? Know All The Phases

Last updated on Jan 24,2024 722 Views

A project will go through different phases during its lifetime. Project managers and team members need to be aware of these phases and what is expected of them during each one. This blog post will discuss the different stages of the project lifecycle and what you can expect from your project team during each one. Stay tuned for more information!

What is A Project?

It is a unique set of coordinated activities with a definite start and finish that utilize resources to achieve a specific goal. Projects are generally categorized into three types:

  • One-time project
  • The repeatable project, and
  • Continuous improvement project.

It is important to note that all projects are unique; therefore, project managers must tailor project management practices and processes to fit the specific needs of each project. A project manager must also consider the organization’s culture, values, and business processes when planning and executing a project.

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What Is Project Lifecycle?

Project Lifecycle is the process that all projects go through during their lifetime. It helps ensure successful project delivery by breaking tasks into smaller, manageable phases.

There are generally four project lifecycle phases:


  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Closure

Initiation Phase

It is the first stage of the project lifecycle. The project team is formed in this phase, and a project manager is appointed. The project manager has to develop a project plan and assign tasks to team members. This phase also includes creating a project schedule and budget. The initiation phase ends when the client or sponsor approves the project plan.

The initiation phase includes project scoping, feasibility study and project chartering. It is where project managers need to create a project charter. This project charter is a document that outlines the project objectives, scope, timeline and deliverables. It also includes the project risks and assumptions. Creating a project charter is the first step in initiating a project. It entails project vision, mission, goals, list of stakeholders, project manager and project team roles and responsibilities.

Steps Completed In the Initiation Phase:

  • Project scoping
  • Feasibility study
  • Project chartering
  • Identifying stakeholders
  • Outlining project objectives, scope, timeline and deliverables
  • Listing project risks and assumptions

Planning Phase

The next of the project lifecycle is the planning phase. It is the phase where project managers start to get a feel for what the project will entail and how to best approach it. Project managers work with stakeholders in this phase to develop a clear project scope and objectives. They also create a project schedule and budget.

The plan includes identifying project risks and developing strategies to mitigate them. It is an essential step in ensuring the project’s success. It is the bible for project execution and sets the project up for success. By identifying risks early on, project managers can develop plans to avoid or minimize them.

During the planning phase, project managers also start to assemble the project team who will get things done. Planning helps ensure that the project has the right mix of skills and knowledge to execute the project successfully and meet the project objectives.

Steps To Complete In Planning Phase:

  • Understand project objectives
  • Define project scope
  • Create a project schedule
  • Develop project budget
  • Identify project risks
  • Assemble project team
  • Create a project execution plan
  • Get approval from stakeholders

The planning phase is critical to the success of any project. By planning out the project appropriately, project managers can increase the chances of project success.

Execution Phase

The execution phase typically lasts for the duration of the project. It is the phase where all the project planning comes to fruition, and the project team starts working on delivering the project outputs. During this phase, project managers closely monitor project progress and performance and make any necessary adjustments to ensure the project is on track.

The project team will continue to work on implementing project activities and producing project outputs during this phase. Execution is typically the most prolonged phase of a project; during this phase, most project risks will materialize. Therefore, project managers must remain vigilant and promptly address any issues.

Steps completed in the execution phase:

  • Project manager assigns project team members to tasks
  • Project team starts working on project activities
  • Project manager monitors the project’s progress and performance
  • Project manager makes necessary adjustments to keep the project on track
  • Project team produces project outputs
  • Project manager addresses any issues that arise

During this phase, the project manager may need to go back and revisit previous phases of the project to make adjustments as necessary. For example, if a project is behind schedule, the project manager may need to go back and revise the project schedule. Similarly, if a project is over budget, the project manager may need to adjust the budget.

The execution phase of a project is typically the most challenging and demanding. During this phase, project managers must be most proactive and attentive to ensure project success. By carefully monitoring project progress and performance and making necessary adjustments, project managers can help check projects are completed within budget and required quality standards.

Closure Phase

Project closeout and project termination are the final deliverables produced and accepted at the end. It is when the project’s success is measured. All project records are archived during this phase. Project closeout and project termination. 

The project team completes a post-mortem to document what went well and what could be improved upon for future projects. Project closure is essential to the project lifecycle as it ensures that all project objectives have been met.

The project closeout phase includes the following activities:

  • Archiving project records
  • Conducting a post-mortem
  • Measuring project success
  • Project termination
  • Producing final deliverables
  • Project closeout and project termination

The final deliverables are produced and accepted during this phase. This is when the project’s success is measured. All project records are archived during this phase.

Understanding the project lifecycle is essential in project management. It encompasses all the phases from initiation to closure, and gaining expertise through PRINCE2 training can help you navigate and optimize each stage effectively.

Example: Project lifecycle Phases On A Software Development Project

A software company is developing project management software. The project manager breaks the project into four distinct phases:

Pre-planning Phase

This is the first phase of the project lifecycle. In this phase, the project manager establishes the project team and assigns roles that will take the software from the development launch. The project manager also develops a project plan.

Planning Phase

In the planning phase, the project team develops a detailed project schedule. The project manager also creates a budget and assigns significant tasks to the respective teams, including the development, testing, and operations teams.

Execution Phase

During the execution phase, the project team carries out the project plan. During this phase, the project team may encounter problems which can cause delays. The project manager monitors progress and reports any issues to the stakeholders.

Closure Phase

The project lifecycle of a software development project is critical to follow as it covers all the aspects necessary for a project. When the project ends, the project manager documents the project results and lessons learned. The project team is disbanded, and the project manager moves on to the next project. As it was software development, in the end, the software will be tested for project success.

Understanding the project lifecycle is essential for effective project management. Explore the various phases of project development, from initiation to closure, with comprehensive PMP Training to ensure successful project execution.

Consequences of Not Following A Project Lifecycle

Failing to follow a project’s lifecycle can have some pretty dire consequences. For one, your project is likely to run into problems that could have been easily avoided had you followed the project lifecycle steps. This can cause delays, cost overruns, and a host of other issues. Additionally, not following a project lifecycle can also lead to project failure. Studies have shown that projects that don’t follow a project lifecycle are more likely to fail than those that do.

So, if you’re not already following a project lifecycle, now is the time to start. Doing so will help ensure that your project is a success.

Questions To Ask Yourself In Each Phase Of The Project Lifecycle

What are the goals of this project?

This is the first and foremost question to ask yourself in each phase of the project lifecycle. Knowing your project goals will help you determine what needs to be done in each phase and what can be achieved.

What are the risks involved?

Risks must always be considered when starting or continuing a project. By understanding the risks involved, you can be better prepared to handle them should they occur.

What are the budget and time constraints?

Both budget and time can be significant project constraints. It is essential to understand these limitations from the beginning so that you can plan accordingly.

What resources are available?

To complete a project, you will need access to the necessary resources. Make sure you understand what resources are available to you before beginning the project.

Skills To Become A Project Manager

A project manager is a central figure in ensuring the success or failure of a project. They are responsible for planning, scheduling, and executing project tasks while also serving as a communication conduit between project stakeholders.

There are plenty of things that project management skills can be learned through experience and on-the-job training; specific skill sets are essential for project managers. These skillsets include:

Strong Communication Skills: A project manager must be able to communicate effectively with project stakeholders, team members, and upper management. They must articulate project goals, objectives, and deadlines. It will strengthen the project manager’s position if they can also listen to project stakeholders and team members and take their input into account. If you have strong communication skills, you will be better equipped to manage a project successfully.

Leadership Skills: Project managers must have excellent leadership skills to motivate their teams and get the best out of them. They also need to be able to resolve conflicts and make difficult decisions. It will further be their responsibility to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget. A leader should be the one who can take the project from its inception to a successful close.

Risk Management: The project manager is responsible for identifying and assessing risks that could potentially impact the project. They develop a risk management plan that will mitigate these risks.

Critical Thinking And Problem Solving: Throughout the project lifecycle, the project manager will need to use problem-solving and critical thinking skills to make decisions that are in the project’s best interest. It will help them identify potential problems and find solutions to keep the project on track.

Technical Expertise: Project managers need to have a strong understanding of the project’s technical aspects. They need to be able to communicate effectively with the project team and stakeholders. The technical expertise includes project management software and tools, project estimation techniques, and earned value management.


The project lifecycle is the process that all project managers use to bring a project from inception to completion. Project managers need to understand the project lifecycle to manage their projects effectively. The project lifecycle consists of four phases: initiation, planning, execution, and closure. Each phase has a set of activities that must be completed for the project to be successful.

The project manager must ensure all project activities are completed promptly and efficiently. Project managers must understand the project lifecycle to manage their projects effectively. It is essential to know that a project is incomplete until all four phases of the project lifecycle are complete.

If you are a project manager or are thinking about becoming one, you must understand the project lifecycle. By understanding the project lifecycle, you will be able to manage your projects and ensure they are effectively successful.

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What is Project Lifecycle? Know All The Phases