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The Project Management Body of Knowledge organizes project phases according to their life cycle, starting with Project Initialization and ending in Project Closure. The Project Management Institute (PMI) created the 5-phase model outlined in the PMBOK Guide.
Each phase of the project management life cycle consists of a specific project objective or objectives, and defines results, deliverables, processes, and milestones. Management by project life cycle phase gives the project team a common vocabulary to communicate project progress, resulting in better organizational control over the projects they handle.
Table of contents
- What are the 5 Phases of Project Management?
- Project Initiation Phase
- Project Planning Phase
- Project Execution Phase
- Project Closure Phase
- Why are Project Phases Important?
- Recommended Project Management Software
What Are the 5 Phases of Project Management?
A project phase is a collection of related project management activities. The relationship of the phases in the project life cycle is often sequential, and each project phase culminates with the completion of one or more project deliverables.
The five phases of project management are:
- Project Initiation
- Project Planning
- Project Execution
- Project Monitoring & Control
- Project Closure
Each stage of the project life cycle has a distinct focus that’s different from other stages.
That said, the project management skill sets, tasks, processes, stakeholders, and involved organizations for each of the project phases would differ. Still, repeating processes across all Process Groups is an excellent way to add a degree of control within each phase.
Read more: 14 Important Questions Project Managers Should Ask the Team
Project Initiation Phase
A team’s performance during the Project Initiation Phase can result in either authorization, delay, or discontinuation of a new project.
The main goal of the Initiation Phase is to ensure that the project meets business needs and that stakeholders and project teams are aligned on the project success criteria throughout the project life cycle.
To achieve the project goal, it’s best to involve internal and external stakeholders from the Initiation Phase. This way, you can effectively align expectations and increase the likelihood of completing all the deliverables throughout the project management life cycle.
During the Initiation Phase, the entire project team defines the project idea, and the project sponsor evaluates it and authorizes the project to proceed. The project manager starts the documentation process, which includes the justification, deliverables, risks, estimated cost, and resource requirements.
The Project Charter is a key deliverable of the Project Initiation Phase and contains all this information. It is the first formal definition of the project. It authorizes the project to exist, establishes the authority of the project manager, and documents high-level requirements, project milestones, and success criteria.
Another important document in the Initiation Phase is the Stakeholder Register. This document includes information about all the stakeholders of the project. It identifies the people, groups, and organizations that have an interest in the task, project, and its results.
Approval of the Project Charter signals the advance of the project to the next phase, the Project Planning Phase.
Project Planning Phase
Once the expectations and success criteria are clear, the next project management life cycle phase focuses on planning each task the team needs to perform to cover the scope, achieve the deliverables, and meet the overall goal.
In the Project Planning Phase, the project team members dive into specific requirements, tasks, timelines, and actions. The project manager works with the entire team to create the design, enumerate the task list, and estimate the budget.
The project team builds the resource plan, the communications plan, and the initial project schedule. The project manager also establishes the roles and responsibilities of the team and stakeholders. The project scope is finalized depending on approved available resources and client priorities.
During the Planning Phase, the project team finalizes the Work Breakdown Structure, Project Plan, Requirements List, Communications Management Plan, and other relevant documents to iron out the workflow and coordination with involved parties.
The Project Plan is a key deliverable and contains a detailed work breakdown structure (WBS) or task list with start and end dates, and estimated effort and duration. It identifies milestones, resources, and the schedule. It also includes task dependencies that will allow the project team to use the critical path method if it chooses.
Other important deliverables are the Communications Management Plan, which helps facilitate effective communication with stakeholders, and the Resource Allocation Plan which identifies the schedule of project team resources as to their availability during the whole project life cycle.
Something PMs should keep in mind: As you discover more information, you may have to adjust your previous Project Plan and related procedures. More complex projects will require more back-and-forth approvals for every task created.
Project planning is an iterative process so the project manager should review, revise, and revisit all the plans at least once a month until the completion of the project. It is crucial for the project team to involve relevant stakeholders in this stage of the project life cycle as well.
Project Execution Phase
The Project Execution Phase is where the project team executes and follows through on tasks based on the Project Plan. At this stage, the team spends most of its time coordinating with people, helping to ensure quality work, keeping track of resources, and updating stakeholders.
Sometimes called the Implementation Phase, this is the phase when the project manager tries to manage every task and aspect of project delivery to keep the project on track for the remaining duration of the project life cycle.
The project team focuses on achieving all the objectives set in the earlier phases. At this phase, the project leader likely uses project management software to assign every task to team members. Tools that centralize task information, along with resource availability and team communication can simplify and optimize the needed project management processes.
Quality Assurance documentation, meeting minutes, and Work Orders are some of the documents created during the Execution Phase of the project management life cycle.
It’s also likely that you’ll discover new information that will require a revisit and update of the initial project management plans. Be vigilant with change requests, and make sure that the necessary adjustments are managed.
Project Monitoring & Control Phase
The best way to ensure progress and improvement is by tracking and reviewing project performance.
Simultaneously during execution, the project team carefully tracks the progress of the project based on the Project Plan established earlier. Tracking the performance of the project through various metrics is crucial to ensure the project stays on schedule, within budget, and within scope.
The project team keeps track of change management documents, spending records, QA checklists, and team time tracking. They are able to measure where efforts and resources go throughout the project life cycle, crosschecking it with the Project Plan.
Both the Execution Phase and Monitoring & Control Phase are critical times that can determine project success. Aside from monitoring the progress of tasks, the project manager also tries to identify issues or risks, creates a mitigation plan with the team, and reports the project status regularly to stakeholders.
Being diligent in recording and measuring project progress puts the project team in a strategic position. They can identify bottlenecks and initiate essential discussions or project management process improvements.
Having a proactive approach will allow the project team to respond rapidly to any change in the plan. Consistent and appropriate status reporting will update interested stakeholders and provide them the opportunity to intervene in or redirect the project as needed.
If additional planning, time, or resources are needed, you’ll need to communicate them to relevant project stakeholders before it’s too late. You’ll also have the data and results to back up your requests, so you have a better chance of justifying your requests and maintaining their trust despite circumstances.
Project Closure Phase
In the last project management life cycle phase, all the activities related to its completion are concluded. These may involve the submission of a final deliverable, fulfilling contractual obligations, terminating relevant agreements, and releasing project resources.
The causes of a project closure can be completion, cancellation, termination, or transfer to a new organization. The documentation required to complete Project Closure will differ depending on the situation.
In this phase, the project manager communicates the final project disposition and status to all stakeholders. This phase also ensures to inform participants and stakeholders of any follow-on activities or continuing product life cycle so they can communicate and coordinate with the people in charge.
Regardless of the outcome of the project life cycle, however, it would be good for the team to conduct a project retrospective. During this post-mortem activity, the project team can process new lessons and ensure the improvement of current project management processes for a future project.
During the project closeout, documents to turn over can include various project documentation, final meeting minutes, and other closure reports. These documents can identify and capture lessons learned and best practices for future reference and reuse.
It is a good idea to organize and store project materials in a shared team folder. These materials can provide reference during performance evaluation. The opportunity to continuously test, improve, or reinvent ways to manage the whole project life cycle can help grow the organization and its business.
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Why Are Project Phases Important?
All projects go through each of the five phases regardless of their size.
The decision to officially divide a project into phases is an excellent way to manage the team’s focus, allocate resources, and align the entire project life cycle with clients and stakeholders.
By thinking in terms of phases, the project team ensures that deliverables produced at the end of each phase meet the project’s goals. Managing a project by phase also makes sure that the team is properly prepared for the next phase.
Project life cycle phases provide additional benefits. The approach provides a structured approach for project delivery. Defined activities, outputs, and responsibilities create a clear and common roadmap for the project team to follow.
Defined phases and defined roles show a visible framework easily understood by all team members and stakeholders. Assignment of responsibilities by phase clarifies what the team should only be doing in each phase and helps streamline communication.
Working on projects phase by phase helps track and link progress directly to each phase. Completion of each phase is easily recognizable by all involved.
Another benefit of project management by phase is the progressive evolution of the project. This helps identify areas that need greater attention for a particular phase. It also marks clearly the points and opportunities for structured reviews to support project governance.
While PMBOK recommends assigning project phases according to a project’s life cycle, project teams can follow their own system depending on their industry, organizational policies, and other relevant factors. For example, teams and organizations focused on monitoring the usage of resources can use the critical chain project management methodology.
Read next: Top 10 Reasons Why Projects Fail
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Recommended Project Management Software
Integrating project phase planning into project plans is easy when you’re working with the right software. If you’re interested in learning more about top-rated project management software, the editors at Project-Management.com actively recommend the following:
Wrike is the most powerful work management platform on the market, enabling teams to plan projects and collaborate in real time. Our award-winning software is trusted by 20,000+ companies across the globe, including Sony, Estée Lauder, and Siemens.
Wrike’s customizable features include Gantt charts, request forms, dashboards, cross-tagging, time tracking, and proofing. Integrate with 400+ apps from the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Salesforce. Automate repetitive tasks and achieve 50% faster planning. Work from anywhere with 100% access to your files via our mobile and desktop apps.
Whether you’re a small startup or an established brand, Wrikehas the solution for you. Paid plans start at $9.80/user/month. Join our community of 2.3 million — start your free two-week trial today.
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monday.comWork OS is an award-winning no-code work management platform that helps teams manage projects and workflows more efficiently.
Used by 152,000+ customers worldwide, this fully customizable software lets you plan, manage, and track every project in one place.monday.comoffers time-saving and easy-to-use features such as automations, time tracking, document sharing, and real-time collaboration.Multiple board views such as Gantt and Kanban help you structure and navigate tasks and projects the way you prefer, and dashboards give a high-level overview of your progress.
In addition, integrations with apps such as Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Gmail, and Excel, allow you to easily continue working with your favorite tools from within the platform.monday.comalso offers dedicated solutions, such as monday dev and monday sales CRM, designed to answer the needs of specific industries.
Learn more about monday.com
Construction software for project managers and site managers. LetsBuild’s cloud-based apps support planning, progress reporting, snagging, communication, and reporting, and information is updated in real-time, whether at the office on on-site.
Learn more about LetsBuild
According to the PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge) by the Project Management Institute (PMI), a project management life cycle consists of 5 distinct phases including initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure that combine to turn a project idea into a working product.What are the phases of the project life cycle answer? ›
The project management life cycle is usually broken down into four phases: initiation, planning, execution, and closure. These phases make up the path that takes your project from the beginning to the end.What are the five phases of life cycle? ›
The product life cycle is the progression of a product through 5 distinct stages—development, introduction, growth, maturity, and decline. The concept was developed by German economist Theodore Levitt, who published his Product Life Cycle model in the Harvard Business Review in 1965.What is the 5 project management Process Group explain each process? ›
Generally speaking, projects require five process groups — initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. These are known as the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) process groups.What are the 5 project management process groups? ›
- Initiating. The first step of any project involves casting a vision for what will be accomplished throughout the duration of that project. ...
- Planning. ...
- Executing. ...
- Monitoring and Controlling. ...
The 5 Cs of managing projects, Complexity, Criticality, Compliance, Culture and Compassion, tell you how much and how often to do the things we do. There are five, they fit on your hand, and they go in order. The first three, complexity, criticality and compliance, are about the work, and that's where we begin.What are the five stages of project management quizlet? ›
The processes are guided through five stages: initiation, planning, execution, controlling and closing.What are the five stages of the project life cycle PPT? ›
The 5 Phases of Project Management
Definition & Planning. Launch or Execution. Performance & Control. Project Closure.
Project execution and monitoring phase. This is the main and most important stage of your entire project management life cycle. It is the actual start of the project. This step is a result of the planning stage because it's dependent on what you have chosen to do during that part of the project's development.What is the project life cycle quizlet? ›
What is a Project Life Cycle? It is a series of phases that a project passes through from initiation to closure.
The life cycle refers to the process that a project goes through from start to finish. There are four main life cycles in project management: predictive, iterative, incremental, and agile.What do you understand by project life cycle? ›
The Project Lifecycle is the sequence of phases through which a project progresses. It includes initiation, planning, execution, and closure. Learn more. The Project Lifecycle is the sequence of phases through which a project progresses.What are the 5 dimensions of project management? ›
I am about to explain one of the fundamental concepts of project management.What do the 5 C's stand for? ›
What are the 5 Cs of credit? Lenders score your loan application by these 5 Cs—Capacity, Capital, Collateral, Conditions and Character. Learn what they are so you can improve your eligibility when you present yourself to lenders.What are the 5 C's of success? ›
Clarity, communication, collaboration, consensus and compromise are critical to success in business, politics and life. Without them, you'll be deadlocked (as our government has been) and fail to achieve much of anything. Without recognizing these five Cs, you won't achieve meaningful results.What are the five 5 objectives of project management? ›
A project, regardless of its size, generally involves five distinctive project life cycle phases of equal importance: Initiation, Planning and Design, Construction and Execution, Monitoring and Control, Completion.What would the main 5 tasks of a project manager be? ›
Skills and attributes needed to be a project manager
direct, manage and motivate the project team. develop and maintain an agreed project plan and detailed stage plans. understand and apply business case and risk management processes. tailor expert knowledge to meet specific circumstances.
Project Planning Phase
This is the most important phase of a project life cycle. This phase defines how a project is going to be implemented in a detailed manner. Step 1: Create a plan for completing the project within the time constraints and budget.
This project management process generally includes four phases: initiating, planning, executing, and closing. Some may also include a fifth “monitoring and controlling” phase between the executing and closing stages.What is the most important phase of project cycle? ›
The planning phase is the most important; time and effort invested in this phase lays a solid foundation for the project. This phase identifies and defines the project's costs, scope, risks, opportunities and constraints. Appropriate stakeholders should be involved in the planning phase to provide feedback.
Definition. A project management life cycle is a framework comprising a set of distinct high-level stages required to transform an idea of concept into reality in an orderly and efficient manner.What is project cycle with example? ›
The Project Lifecycle is the sequence of phases through which a project progresses. It includes initiation, planning, execution, and closure. Learn more. The Project Lifecycle is the sequence of phases through which a project progresses.How do you write a project plan in 5 simple steps? ›
- Start with research and preplanning.
- Draft a rough outline of your project plan.
- Build out your detailed project schedule.
- Present and confirm your plan.
- Execute your plan and adjust as needed.
An industry example of a project process
A fast-food company is planning to test-market a new seasonal chicken sandwich. To adequately monitor how the test marketing goes, a project process is developed.
Examples of this type of project proposal include business plans and grant applications. The prospective sponsors of the project evaluate the proposal and, upon approval, provide the necessary financing. The project officially begins at the time of approval.What are the 5 stages of project life cycle PDF? ›
A project management life cycle is a framework comprising a set of distinct high-level stages required to transform an idea of concept into reality in an orderly and efficient manner.What is the project life cycle overview? ›
The Project Management Life Cycle has five phases: Request, Initiation, Planning, Execution & Control, and Closure. This methodology contains the templates for the various project management activities undertaken to deliver successful projects.