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Project Management Essay

2510 words - 11 pages

Business Project Management

MODULE 26340

Module Leader: Dr Ashish Dwivedi

Submission date: Monday 02.02.09

Describe the main phases of the project lifecycle. Critically discuss where in this lifecycle failures may occur and explain how effective project management might reduce their likelihood.

1.0 Introduction

Projects are being born all around us and can be found in every facet of life – they can range from say the relatively simple task of organising and executing a dinner party to mega projects such as the construction of the Channel Tunnel. This paper aims to investigate some fundamental questions relating to the make –up of the project lifecycle, failures that can occur within ...view middle of the document...

Figure 1. General open ended phases of a project life cycle (adapted from the PMBOK, 2004).

The PMBOK (2004), presents a three stage model, and uses generalised terminology for its primary phase headings (initial, intermediate and final). It does however, justify this by considering that although project life cycles in the majority of cases have similar phase names and deliverables, they can and do have differing numbers of stages depending on project and circumstance. Most authors however, refer to the project lifecycle as passing through either four or five phases

In the first instance, it is important to differentiate between the ‘project lifecycle’ and the ‘project management lifecycle.’ Pataki et al state that “the ‘project lifecycle’ describes the tasks that must be completed to produce a product or service whilst, the ‘project management life cycle’ defines how to manage a project” (2004, 6). Egan (2006) subscribes to this point of view adding, that according to the Project Management Institute (PMI), although the project management lifecycle is a fundamental component part of project management, it is not the same as the project lifecycle, it is however, essential that they work in close conjunction with each other.

Baker and Baker (1998), PMBOK (2004), Karaulova, Kramarenko et al (2008), and others classify each stage in the life cycle as a ‘process group.’ PMBOK (2004) however, makes it clear that process groups are generic and not definitive lifecycle phase names. The ‘unique’ nature of projects dictates that each project will be subject to its own ‘phase’ headline albeit some industries, software for instance, tend to have a standard terminology. Figure 2 illustrates the distinctions between these generic phases thereafter, describing and summarising the management tasks that critically need to undertaken within each phase.

Figure 2: Tabular representation of phases, objectives, tasks & responsibilities related to and affecting both the project and project management lifecycles (adapted from Baker et al 1998, PMBOK, 2004, Heldman, 2005)

According to Egan (2006), the initiating and closing phases of the cycle are relatively brief, planning on the other hand takes up most of the management processes but in comparison to the execution phase it is once again relatively brief. Monitoring and controlling are carried out in conjunction with execution. Thus, by combining the implied time scales with the process groups it is possible to prepare a PMBOK influenced model of the generic stages within in the typical five phase project lifecycle (figure 3).

Figure 3: Classic five stage project life cycle model showing approximate proportions associated with each stage (adapted from Cleland 1999 & Egan, 2006).

Baker (1998), Knutson (2001), Thornsett (2002) and Egan (2006) appear to agree with the PMBOK (2004) on the importance of the relationship between each phase of the project lifecycle. Both PMBOK (2004) and Egan 2006,...

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