When properly organized, a well-run project will pass through four major and
distinct time periods known as "phases". The end of each phase represents
a significant "Milestone" that should include a thorough management
review before proceeding further. These four phases represent the basic Governance
Process of project management.
Collectively, these four phases may be called the "Project Life Span",
or more popularly the "Project Life Cycle"
- but we really don't want the project to go around in circles, do we?
If it is a large project, such as a construction job, the phases will be further
broken down into "stages".
If for example the project is in Information Technology, then
some of the stages may go through several "iterations"
An "Iteration" is a subset of project activities
that produce a partial product for review and acceptance
before continuing with further work.
But in any case, the first two major phases constitute planning
while the second two constitute production.
We like to call these phases: Concept, Development,
Execution and Finishing because C-D-E-F
is easy to remember.
Phase I. In the first phase it is essential to establish with the project's
sponsor (the "client") the project's concept, objectives and requirements.
This phase may be known as the "Concept" or Initiation
The result of this phase should be a document called a "Business Case"
that justifies the project.
That is, in a good Business Case, the project will be "justified"
by writing down the answers to all seven questions listed under Reason 2
described earlier, and this document should be available for all to see.
Approval of this document provides the necessary authority
for carrying out the work of the next phase.
Phase II. In the second phase, this concept will be built into an effective
plan of action.
As described earlier in Module 4, this is where
the first draft of a "Work Breakdown Structure" (WBS) is typically
In this way, the work involved in creating the deliverable will be carefully
planned and defined in more detail.
It is particularly important that the project manager ensure that "everyone
is on board and comfortable" (i.e. all the "stakeholders")
are in agreement with the plan.
To this end a "feasibility study" or "prototype"
model may be necessary to prove, or disprove, the project's concept.
This phase may be known as the "Planning", Development
or Definition Phase.
The output of this phase is a document called "The Project Work Plan"
also known as Project Charter or Project Brief.
The Project Charter or Project Brief is a very
important document. The approval of this document by senior management represents
a vital project "Milestone" because it signals the start of significant
effort and expenditure.
Hence, it is typically shown as a "Go/No-go" milestone on the
project's schedule bar chart.