Project cycle can be defined as an approach which is accepted as the best way of planning, implementing, evaluating and managing projects. It can also be defined as a life span of a project; that is, defining the definite starting point and a definite ending point of a project.
Project management cycle was established in 1970 by Baum and named Baum Cycle. This basic cycle had four components which included: conceptualization stage, formulation and design stage, project appraisal stage and implementation stage. A fifth stage known as the evaluation or closing stage was added in 1978. Evaluation stage came on the realization that it could help in the identification of a new project.
Every project is unique as projects vary remarkably. However, most of the follow a similar sequence of activities, thus project management life cycle generally contains five phases; that is, Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring/Control and Closure. These stages successfully guide project from its initial stages to completion.
In this first stage you provide an overview of the project; that is defining project goals as well as creating project briefs. It is at this phase where a project manager is appointed. He in turn – based on his or her experience and skills – will select the required team members.
Once the project goals have been set and a management team in place, the all-important second step begins; this is the planning phase. Project planning stage includes a detailed breakdown and assignment of each task of the project from beginning to end. The tasks in this stage include defining project scope and budgeting, establishing team roles and setting deadlines, setting up communication plan and setting milestones of the project. In short, the working process is defined, stake holders are identified and reporting frequency and channels explained.
It is this stage where the planned solution is implemented to solve the problem specified in the project’s requirements. Budget management, resource planning and status report are key activities in this third stage of the project life cycle
4. Monitoring and Control
This is the fourth stage in the project management life-cycle. Project goals, qualities of deliverable and project team performance are monitored. In project such as product and system development, this stage converges with the third stage, that is, execution. As result, a design resulting in a specific set of product requirements is created. This convergence is measured by prototypes, testing, and reviews.
This is the fifth and the final stage of any project. It is aimed at bringing a project to its proper conclusion. The Closure phase is typically highlighted by a written formal project review report which contains the following elements: a formal acceptance of the final product (by the client), Weighted Critical Measurements (a match between the initial requirements laid out by the client against the final delivered product), lessons learned, project resources, and a formal project closure notification to higher management.
In conclusion, Project Management Cycle saves time and keeps everyone on the team focused. Although projects vary in their design, the above five stages will ensure a successful project that end with a celebration after project retrospective meeting.