Each project requires its own set of processes, but they all follow the same phases; a beginning, a mid-point, and an end. The project life cycle phases provide a set path for project managers to follow when working on a project.

Every project requires in-depth planning and near-perfect execution across the five stages of project development. This handy guide outlines how organizations and project managers can execute the five stages of the project life cycle as conceptualized by the non-profit organization, the Project Management Institute.

The project life cycle comprises different phases that cater to specific requirements of a project – from start-to-finish. Before starting a project, it helps to brainstorm the following questions with your team:

  1. What is the project’s end-goal?
  2. What’s the list of deliverables that need to be executed and reviewed?
  3. What resources and assets need to be involved in the project?
  4. What will the process-to-control and approve-each-stage look like?

5 stages of Project Management Life Cycle

  1. Project initiation

Before any new project takes the floor, it is critical to define the project goals and understand the customers’, stakeholders’, employee’s motivations – even before the numbers and data are chalked up.

To start the project on the right note, ask yourself the following project initiation-centric questions:

  • What are the key issues you are trying to solve?
  • How can you make the best use of the resources (time, money, assets, etc.) available?
  • What are the perceived risks for undertaking this project?
  • What kind of losses will you incur if you do not execute the project?

The initiation phase comprises the following steps when it comes to creating a project plan:

Step 1: The why of the project, this step engages in research and discussions to understand business needs and priorities from the very beginning.

Step 2: After the business needs are established, gauge the feasibility of the project by conducting feasibility tests with respect to legal, technical, operational, schedule, and economic measures.

Step 3: Identify your stakeholders and understand their motivations. Find out what they expect the outcome of the project should be.

Step 4: Develop a project charter or a project initiation document (PID) that outlines the project objective. Present it to the stakeholders to get their “go-ahead” and kick start the project planning phase. Create a RACI chart to identify roles and responsibilities of your project team members.

  1. Project planning

The project planning phase of the project life cycle involves setting goals that mix-and-match different skill sets, methodologies, and strategies to define a project’s scope, goals, deliverables, and deadlines. Key factors that define this phase include (but are not limited to):

Step 1: Setting project goals such as S.M.A.R. T goals which can be summed up as:

  • Specific: What is it that you aim to achieve?
  • Measurable: How will you know when you’ve reached your objectives?
  • Achievable: Is it in your power to accomplish the goals?
  • Realistic: Is the goal realistic and practical to achieve?
  • Timely: What is the deadline to complete the goals?

Step 2: Developing a project management plan or project road map which includes the following elements:

Project Scope (Scope Statement) highlights the business needs, project benefits, goals, deliverables, and key milestones.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) visually breaks down the scope of the project.

  1. Project Execution

The project team members are taken through the communication plan to complete the work according to the project management plan.

The project execution phase allocates and manages the materials and budgets required for the project. In this phase, the project deliverables become the output.

  1. Project Monitoring and Controlling

The project monitoring and controlling phase compares the time, cost, and performance of the project at each point, and if required, make necessary adjustments to the project activities, resources, and plan in order to maintain the right track.

This phase includes project progress report and other communication materials that confirm sticking to the original project plan and avoid milestones and deadline disruptions.

  1. Project Closing

The project closure phase consists of project finalization, review of project deliverables, and conversion into a business leader.

In this phase, the project team can reflect on and celebrate the project. Project teams can apply their learnings to similar projects in the future.In this phase, the project team can reflect on and celebrate the project. Project teams can apply their learnings to similar projects in the future.

Step 1: Creating a project punch-list of pending items and working towards completing it.

Step 2: Drafting a final project report with the renewed final project budget.

Step 3: Closing all phases of the project, terminating contractors, and rewarding valuable resources.

Step 4: Handing off deliverables.

Step 5: Conducting a “post-mortem” meeting to understand the pitfalls, analyze results, summarize key learnings, and plan the next steps for future reference.

Step 6: Organizing small events/parties to thank participants and stakeholders for their support.

Step 7: Completing all project procurements.

Step 8: Collecting all project-related documents to archive and store.


Project management can become increasingly overwhelming or become second-nature where you’re driving all the future projects with relative ease. It all depends on how you lay the foundation of the project and follow the 5-step framework demonstrated above.

For managing activities in each phase of the project lifecycle effectively, while also co-ordinating with stakeholders and teammates, adopt a project management application.