project management, planning and control || project life cycles

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  • 11 Project life cycles

    Most, if not all, projects go through a life cycle which varies with the size and complexity ofthe project. On medium to large projects the life cycle will generally follow the pattern whichhas been set out in BS 6079. This is:

    1 Concept Basic ideas, business case, statement of requirements, scope;2 Feasibility Tests for technical, commercial and financial viability, technical studies,

    investment appraisal, DCF, etc.;3 Evaluation Application for funds, stating risks, options, TCQ criteria;4 Authorization Approvals, permits, conditions, project strategy;5 Implementation Development design, procurement, fabrication, installation,

    commissioning;6 Completion Performance tests, hand-over to client, post project appraisal;7 Operation Revenue earning period, production, maintenance;8 Termination Close-down, decommissioning, disposal.

    Items 7 and 8 are not usually included in a project life cycle where the project ends with theissue of an acceptance certificate after the performance tests have been successfully completed.Where these two phases are included, as, for example, with defence projects, the term extendedproject life cycle is often used.The project life cycle of an IT project may be slightly different as the following list shows:

    1 Feasibility Definition, cost benefits, acceptance criteria, time and cost estimates;2 Evaluation Definitions of requirements, performance criteria, processes;3 Function Functional and operational requirements, interfaces, system design;4 Authorization Approvals, permits, firming up procedures;5 Design and build Detail design, system integration, screen building, documentation;6 Implementation Integration and acceptance testing, installation, training;7 Operation Data loading, support set-up, hand-over.

    Running through the period of the life cycle are control systems and decision stages at whichthe position of the project is reviewed. The interfaces of the phases of the life cycle formconvenient milestones for progress payments and reporting progress to top management, whocan then make the decision to abort or provide further funding. In some cases the interface ofthe phases overlap, as in the case of certain design and construct contracts, where constructionstarts before the design is finished. This is known as concurrent engineering and is oftenemployed to reduce the overall project programme.As the word cycle implies, the phases may have to be amended in terms of content, cost

    and duration as new information is fed back to the project manager and sponsor. Projects are

  • 38 Project Management, Planning and Control

    essentially dynamic organizations which are not only specifically created to effect change, butare also themselves subject to change.On some projects it may be convenient to appoint a different project manager at a change of

    phase. This is often done where the first four stages are handled by the development or salesdepartment, who then hand the project over to the operations department for the various stagesof the implementation and completion phases.When the decommissioning and disposal is included, it is known as an extended life cycle,

    since these two stages could occur many years after commissioning and could well be carriedout by a different organization.Figure 11.1 shows three typical life cycles prepared by three different organizations. The first

    example from BS 6079 is a very simple generic life cycle consisting of only five basic phases.Some of these phases are subdivided in the next (APM) life cycle where implementation,shown in BS 6079, has been replaced by design, contract and implementation. The third lifecycle shown as formulated by the Ministry of Defence clearly shows the phases required for atypical weapons system, where concept, feasibility and project definition are the responsibilityof the MoD, design, development and production are carried out by the manufacturer, andin-service and disposal are the phases when the weapon is in the hands of the armed forces.The diagram also shows a calendar scale over the top. While this is not strictly necessary, it

    can be seen that if the lengths of the bars representing the phases are drawn proportional to thetime taken by the phases, such a presentation can be used as a high level reporting document,showing which phases are complete or partially complete in relation to the original schedule.The important point to note is that each organization should develop its own life cycle

    diagram to meet its particular needs. Where the life cycle covers all the phases from cradle tograve as it were, it is often called a programme life cycle, since it spans over the full programmeof the deliverable. The term project life cycle is then restricted to those phases which constitutea project within the programme, e.g. the design, development and manufacturing periods.




    Businesscase APMS BoK











    Design and developmentProject definition




    BS 6079

    Project management plan

    Figure 11.1 Examples of project life cycles

  • Project life cycles 39









    Figure 11.2 Project management life cycle

    Concept FeasibilityProject

    definitionDesign and

    developmentProduction In-service Disposal

    Project life cycle

    Product life cycle

    Extended life cycle

    Figure 11.3 Life cycle of MoD project

    Figure 11.2 shows how decision points or milestones (sometimes called trigger points or go,no-go gates) relate to the phases of a life cycle.Figure 11.3 shows how the life cycle of the MoD project shown in Figure 11.1 could be split

    into the Project life cycle, i.e. the phases under the control of the project team (conception toproduction), the Product life cycle, the phases of interest to the sponsor, which now includes thein-service performance, and lastly the Extended life cycle, which includes disposal. From thepoint of view of the contractor, the Project life cycle may only include design and developmentand production. It can be seen therefore that there are no hard and fast rules where thedemarcation points are as each organization will define its own phases and life cycles to suitits method of working.


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