Project Management Life Cycle
The 4 Phases of an Effective Project Management Life Cycle
Effective work habits beget effective projects. This is especially true in Project Management, where a PM has to deal with multiple contributors in highly technical or specialized fields in order to create a single, coherent product. A professional-quality project’s lifecycle can usually be divided into four phases:
This phase is the first because it is the most important. It is here that the project manager sits down with the client for an in-depth discussion on where they want to go, why, and what they are willing to do to get there.
And let me be blunt: this can be the hardest part of the process. Clients rarely know their exact requirements, and it’s up to the project manager to dig it up and polish it for presentation to the team. This document, called the Scope of Work, should be reviewed thoroughly by both parties and signed.
Once the PM and client have nailed down a (hopefully) firm idea of the project’s objective and scope, the PM then has to make a plan of action. Depending on the company or team’s work process, this could either mean conducting a pre-project planning meeting, or involve the PM drawing up a work plan by himself. Ideally, the PM will have enough foresight and experience to anticipate any problems, and pad his estimates accordingly.
If the first two phases went right, then the problems in this phase should be pretty minimal. Of course, there are always hiccups. Underperforming team members and persistent bugs are a nasty thorn in the side, but the real test of a PM’s patience is the client. The development cycle is, by nature, the longest phase of the project. And the client will have plenty of time to rethink their requirements and come up with “something better” that the PM could “squeeze in”.
This, my friends, is where the Scope of Work comes into play. Make sure the client knows that changes outside the SoW come at a price—both in money and time.
Testing & Launch
Testing and launch are lumped together because, really, these two go hand in hand. Even if the development phase included testing and QA, it’s always wise to run through things just one more time before launch. Just to make sure.
Staying organized helps both the team and the client figure out where they are, what needs to be done, and where the project is going to go. Most importantly, it keeps people focused and reassures the client that you and your team are professionals.