Copyright to Mounir Ajam © 2012.
Published here November 2012.

Introduction | Setting the Scene | Project Phases and Stages
PMBOK® Guide Process Groups | Process Groups vs. Project Life Span 
Clearing the Doubts | Putting it All Together | Conclusion

Project Phases and Stages

In this section, we address project phases and stages. We will also touch on the methodology that we have developed since it involves both terms and which we shall demonstrate in a specific example later in this paper.

Phase or stage?

For better control, we divide the project life span into time (or work) segments that we commonly represent graphically as shown in Figure 1. While we typically refer to these segments as phases, others refer to these segments as stages. North American English speakers prefer to us phase, with stage as a subset of phase. However, UK English speakers appear to prefer stage at this level.


In our SUKAD project management methodology[6] we actually use phase and stage as two independent items. In our CAM2P™ we use the term phase to refer to three major segments that span the project from start to finish. We believe the segments shown in Figure 2 are universal across most projects in most industries and application areas, although some might use somewhat different labels.

Figure 2: Project phases according to the CAM2P model
Figure 2: Project phases according to the CAM2P™ model

These phases are:

  • The Project Concept Phase (from idea and business case to authorizing the project)
  • The Project Development Phase (from authorization to detailed plan; final commitment)
  • The Project Delivery Phase (from final commitment to closure; and beyond)


In our CAM2P™ Model we also use the term stage to refer to six segments that span the project from start to finish. These sub-phases can significantly overlap the (main) phases as shown in Figure 3. These stages could be adjusted (merged, expanded, etc.) to better reflect the specific industry or application area of the project. In other words, they can be adjusted through "customizing and adapting the model".

Figure 3: Project phases and stages according to the CAM2P Model
Figure 3: Project phases and stages according to the CAM2P™ Model

The stages shown in Figure 3 are:

  • The Project Pre-Launch Stage (this is matching the concept phase)
  • The Project Launch Stage (from authorization to project management plan)
  • The Project Definition Stage (from project management plan to final commitment)
  • The Project Implementation Stage (from final commitment to handover)
  • The Project Operation Readiness Stage (in parallel to implementation and expand to project acceptance; could even start before implementation)
  • The Project Close Stage (from handover to closure)

The CAM2P™ Model is not unique; many other organizations have their own internal project management methodologies that are similar to the above but using different terms.

With this section and the previous one, we have defined a project life span model that we will use for comparison with the PMBOK process groups.

Setting the Scene  Setting the Scene

6. See Notes 3 & 4 above.
7. See Note 3 above
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