Project Management Lifecycle

The project management lifecycle defines how to manage a project. It includes the processes of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. While no two projects are exactly alike, the project management lifecycle will always be the same, regardless of the project’s size or type. All projects should progress through these five project management phases:


At the beginning of the initiating phase, a project manager is assigned. The project manager then works with the project sponsor to identify the necessary resources and team members needed to further develop the key project parameters – cost, scope, schedule, and quality (CSSQ). The project team documents its charge in the form of a project charter, which is based on information found in the business case documentation that was prepared in order to obtain funding for the project. Approval of the project charter by the project sponsor authorizes the designated team to begin project planning.


Project planning builds on the work produced during the project’s initiating phase, through the development of a project plan. The project plan defines CSSQ, and includes plans for involving and communicating with all the parties that are affected by the project, as well as identification of an initial set of foreseeable risks that can threaten the project. Additional key elements included in the project plan are the change control process and externally focused items such as project transition plans.

At the conclusion of project planning, the business needs defined in the project charter are re-evaluated based on the completed planning documents and a decision is made either to halt the project or to commit the resources necessary to move the project into the execution phase.


Project execution is where most of the resources are applied/expended on the project. A significant number of team members will join the project at the beginning of this phase. The primary task of the project manager during project execution is to enable the project team to execute the tasks on the baselined project schedule, and to develop the product or service the project is expected to deliver. The project manager uses the processes and plans prepared during the initiating and planning phases to manage the project, while preparing the organization for the implementation of the product/service and for transitioning the product/service responsibility from the project team to the performing organization.

Monitoring and Controlling

Project monitoring and controlling is not a “next step” in the lifecycle, but is rather a group of processes that the project manager applies to the project management assets in order to provide the project team insight into the health of the project. Monitoring and controlling processes include such things as status tracking and reporting, change control, cost control, quality control, contract management, risk monitoring, and taking corrective actions when necessary. Project monitoring and controlling occurs fully during project execution, and occurs to some degree during initiating, planning, and closing.


In project closing, the project team assesses the outcome of the project, as well as the performance of the project team and the performing agency. This is accomplished primarily through soliciting and evaluating feedback from customers, project team members, consumers, and other stakeholders. The primary purpose of this assessment is to document best practices and lessons learned for use on future projects. Key project metrics are also captured to enable the performing organization and the project management office (PMO) to compare and evaluate performance measurements across projects.