A paper presented to the Project Management Symposium on PM: Project Manager Role Evolution, Rome, Italy, 2004.

Updated 7/3/04

"PMI" and "PMBOK" are the registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute.
Published here August 2004.

PART 1 | Introduction | Areas of Project Management Application
Project-Driven and Project-Dependent Organizations
Project Life Cycle Models| Specific Life Cycle Model Examples
Project Management Planning and Control Practices, Systems, and Tools
Managing Risk in Programs and Projects | PART 3

Specific Life Cycle Model Examples

Table 4 lists a number of various life cycle models, with references, for some of the categories and subcategories listed in Table 1, reflecting the results of an incomplete literature search. In several of the models identified in Table 4 the decision points are referred to as "gates".

Two Basic Types of High-Technology Life Cycle Models

There are two basic types of life cycle models as shown in Table 4 for what can be termed 'high technology' project categories: Predictive and Adaptive. Examples for information system development projects are given here, but may also apply to some other high-technology projects. Predictive life cycle models "favor optimization over adaptability" (Desaulniers and Anderson 2002) and include:

  • Waterfall: (Also known as traditional and top-down) linear ordering of the phases, which can be strictly sequential or overlapping to some extent. No phase is normally repeated.
  • Prototyping: Functional requirements and physical design specifications are generated simultaneously.
  • Rapid application development (RAD): based on an evolving prototype that is not thrown away.
  • Incremental build: decomposition of a large development effort into a succession of smaller components.
  • Spiral: repetition of the same set of life-cycle phases such as plan, develop, build, and evaluate until development is complete.

Adaptive life cycle models "accept and embrace change during the development process and resist detailed planning " (Desaulniers and Anderson 2002) and include:

  • Adaptive software development/ASD: Mission driven, component based, iterative cycles, time boxed cycles, risk-driven, and change-tolerant.
  • Extreme programming/XP: Teams of developers, managers, and users; programming done in pairs; iterative process, collective code ownership.
  • SCRUM: Similar to above adaptive life cycle models with iterations called "sprints" that typically last 30 days with defined functionality to be achieved in each sprint; active management role throughout.

Agile Software Development Models

These adaptive models are also referred to as "agile " life cycle models (Bullock 2003). In 2001 the "Agile Software Development Manifesto " was issued by a group of seventeen representatives of these adaptive life cycle model users, and this movement has gained considerable momentum in the IT industry. See http://www.agilemanifesto.org/.

Project Environment Impact on the Life Cycle Model

Design and adaptation of the life cycle model for each project category or subcategory must reflect the important characteristics of the project environment. "The organizational characteristics, the degree of familiarity with the technology to be used, and the competitive demands for initiating the project are just some of the environmental factors that can vary from project to project " (Desaulniers and Anderson 2002.)

Project Categories: Life Cycle Models and References
Generic Project Models: All (or many) project categories below. Belanger 1998, pp 62-72: Generic, Waterfall, Parallel-Work, Evolutionary Models.
Morris 1994, pp 245-248: Standard, Waterfall, Cyclical, Spiral Models.
1. Aerospace/Defense Projects
1.1 Defense systems
1.2 Space
1.3 Military operations
DOD 2000: Defense Acquisition Model. NASA 2002: Process Based Mission Assurance (PMBA) Program Life Cycle, 8 phases:
1. Program Mgt
2. Concept Development
3. Acquisition
4. Hardware Design
5. Software Design
6. Manufacturing
7. Pre-Operations Integration and Test
8. Operations
2. Business & Organization Change Projects
2.1 Acquisition/Merger
2.2 Management process improvement
2.3 New business venture
2.4 Organization re-structuring
2.5 Legal proceeding
See above generic models.
3. Communication Systems Projects
3.1 Network communications systems
3.2 Switching communications systems
See above generic models.
4. Event Projects
4.1 International events
4.2 National events
See above generic models.
5. Facilities Projects
5.1 Facility decommissioning
5.2 Facility demolition
5.3 Facility maintenance and modification
5.4 Facility design/procurement/construction
See above generic models.
6. Information Systems (Software) Projects Desaulniers and Anderson 2002: Predictive (Waterfall, Prototyping, RAD, Incremental Build, Spiral) and Adaptive (ASD, XP, SCRUM) Models.
Whitten 1995, pp 19-22: Code and Fix, Waterfall, Incremental, Iterative Model.
Muench 1994: Spiral Software Development Model.
Lewin 2002, p 47: "V " Software Development Model; p 50: Formula-IT Development Model.
Kezsbom & Edward 2001, p 122: Refined Process Spiral Model.
7. International Development Projects
7.1 Agriculture/rural development
7.2 Education
7.3 Health
7.4 Nutrition
7.5 Population
7.6 Small-scale enterprise
7.7 Infrastructure: energy (oil, gas, coal, power generation and distribution), industrial, telecommunications, transportation, urbanization, water supply and sewage, irrigation)
World Bank Institute 2002, Module 1.
People and process intensive projects in developing countries funded by The World Bank, regional development banks, US AID, UNIDO, other UN, and government agencies; and Capital/civil works intensive projects - often somewhat different from 5. Facility Projects as they may include, as part of the project, creating an organizational entity to operate and maintain the facility, and lending agencies impose their project life cycle and reporting requirements.
8. Media & Entertainment Projects
8.1 Motion picture
8.2 TV segment
8.2 Live play or music event
9. Product and Service Development Projects
9.1 Information technology hardware
9.2 Industrial product/process
9.3 Consumer product/process
9.4 Pharmaceutical product/process
9.5 Service (financial, other)
Cooper and Kleinschmidt 1993: Stage-Gate ® Process Model
Kezsbom & Edward 2001, pp 108: Stage/Gate Product Development Model.
Thamhain 2000: Phase-Gate Process Model.
Murphy 1989: Pharmaceutical Model.
10. Research and Development Projects
10.1 Environmental
10.2 Industrial
10.3 Economic development
10.4 Medical
10.5 Scientific
Eskelin 2002, p 46: Technical Acquisition: Basic Model, Phased Model, Multi-Solution Model.
Table 4: Project life cycle models and references
Generic and for various project categories
[Source: Archibald 2003, pp 45-46]

Managing Software Development Projects with the Rational Unified Process/RUP®

RUP is a widely used process model developed by IBM that consists of six best practices:

  1. Develop software iteratively
  2. Manage requirements
  3. Use component-based architectures
  4. Visually model software
  5. Continuously verify software quality, and
  6. Control changes to the software.

Wideman (2002) presents a comprehensive treatise on RUP that can be seen at http://www.maxwideman.com/papers/acquisition/intro.htm. RUP® is a process product developed, maintained and integrated with a suite of software tools available from IBM on CD-ROM or on the Internet at http://www.us.ibm.com/.

Improving the Project Life Cycle Management Process

Once the life cycles have been designed and documented for each category or subcategory of projects, it is then possible to define and document the project life cycle management system for each. Only when such documentation exists can the system be improved in a systematic, integrated manner. To establish a total quality management (TQM) approach to an organization's project management capabilities and to avoid sub-optimal improvements being introduced on a disjointed, piece-meal basis, the following approach is recommended:

  1. Document the integrated life cycle process model: As discussed earlier.
  2. Document and describe the resulting Project Life Cycle Management System (PLCMS) for each project category within the organization: also discussed earlier.
  3. Re-engineer the integrated process to apply appropriate re-engineering methods to each category's PLCMS to:
    1. Identify system constraints, gaps and weaknesses.
    2. Identify 'speed bumps' that inadvertently slow the process down and potential 'accelerators' that can speed it up (Githens 2002).
    3. Relate the undesirable project results and possible causes to the PLCMS wherever possible.
    4. Redesign the PLCMS beginning with the most obvious constraints, gaps and weaknesses and document the results.
  4. Implement the Improvements:
    1. Obtain needed agreements and conduct appropriate tests or analyses to prove out the validity and feasibility of the proposed system revisions.
    2. Plan, approve and execute the improvement project to implement the revised PLCMS.
  5. Repeat the steps as required until an optimum achievable PLCMS has been implemented.

The PLCMS improvement team must include experienced practitioners from within the organization who are familiar with the existing project management practices.

Project Life Cycle Models  Project Life Cycle Models

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