Project Management Simply Explained - A Logical Framework to Help Your Understanding


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The Project Life Cycle has a Hierarchy

For practical purposes in managing most projects, the four sequential major phases described on the previous page need to be broken down in greater detail. Thus, each phase may be made up of one or more stages and, for purposes of scheduling the actual work involved, each stage is further developed into a number of activities or tasks. These activities or tasks are clearly specific to the particular project.

However, it is interesting to note that while the activities or task are specific to the project, the selection of appropriate stages is typically specific to the industry, and only the four generic major phases and the principle of plan before doing are applicable to projects generally. Figure 3 shows this hierarchy in tabular form.

Figure 3: Project Life Cycle Hierarchy
Figure 3: Project Life Cycle Hierarchy

We should like to emphasize that project tasks and activities are subsets of project Stages which in turn are subsets of project Phases. These relationships are important because there is often great confusion on this subject in discussions of work breakdown and time management.

The relevance and consistency of the application of project management principles to all levels of this project life cycle hierarchy, from the macro to the micro, is also well worth emphasizing. A specific task can just as well be considered as a "project" (or sub-project) in its own right because it requires exactly the same philosophical considerations and can be tackled in exactly the same way as the project as a whole, albeit on a lesser scale.

Perhaps that is why breaking the project down into manageable work packages is so attractive. It enables the same standard approach to be applied throughout. It is also why some large projects seem to have multiple project managers!

Project Life Cycle  Project Life Cycle

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