Project Life Cycle
The PMI Project Management process groups are called:
You may need to repeat these processes repeatedly in a large project. These processes will integrate with your particular organizational or industry project management methodology.
1. Project Selection Methods
3. High Level Planning
4. Assign a PM
Selecting the right project manager for the project is like selecting the right tool for the job. If it is a complex project, crossing departmental boundaries, requiring risk and change management…you should be selecting a person who is both experienced and has been well-trained in project management.
Name the Project Manager and determine their level of authority.
5. Stakeholder Analysis
Stakeholder analysis is the starting point of requirements elicitation. Your information production techniques are not going to be very effective if you are not talking to the right audience!
Start with a stakeholder analysis (a brainstorming session and all individuals, departments, and organizations impacted by the project) and plot the stakeholders based on their levels of interest in the project, and their level of power and influence on the project. This becomes the basis for your project communication plan.
Your next step will be to ensure that you consult with the interested project stakeholders. Many times individuals who feel that they should have been consulted on the decision to undertake the project, or whose point of view was not heeded, will not support the project or will continue to actively oppose it.
6. Project Charter
The project charter is a simple, yet very powerful tool to empower the project manager. A common technique is to initiate the project charter for your project sponsor, then review it with them and request to have them edit it as desired and send it out in their name.
Considerations for your project charter:
7. Preliminary Scope Statement
9. Divide Large Projects into Phases
Is your project too large? If so, use this space to break down large projects into a program of smaller projects into a program of smaller, time-based sub-projects for the sake of better control.
10. Consult with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)
Make a list of all the project SMEs. Consult with them regarding these topics:
11. Solicit Stakeholders Input
Review the project plans with the project stakeholders, similar to the list of questions you asked the SME’s above, seeking input and advice. Remember that changes are easy to make now, but will be costly and difficult to make later in the project.
12. Approach Analysis
You’ve gathered the stakeholder and SME input and reviewed your assumptions. You’ve broken down your large project into phases. Now at a high level determine how your going to approach the project tactically. List what your team is going to make internally versus hire out or purchase. Plan your approach to ensure a solution that will provide the highest satisfaction to your sponsors based on the constraints and project priorities.
Draft your project work breakdown structure (WBS) to organize all of the work (written in terms of deliverables) in outline or organizational chart format.
When you review your first draft, consider these aspects:
14. Resource Identification Estimating
List the people, equipment, and materials that are expected to be needed for the project. The outcome of resource identification is often a printed Resource Breakdown Structure (RBS). If you structure your WBS by organizational departments this is called an Organizational Breakdown Structure (OBS).
15. Time and Cost Estimating
Here is a very brief summary of the most important estimating best practices:
Compare actuals to estimates
After the work has been done, compare the actual time the work took to the original estimate. Track the percent off (either under or over) and report that information back to the team members. The best way to improve estimating accuracy is by paying attention. The best way to pay attention is by tracking metrics.
Use more than one approach or more than one person, or both. After you have one estimate, compare the logic using either another approach or another person’s perspective.
Clearly write out what makes this work complete. Many times there are unknown needed revisions, quality acceptance criteria, and a level of completeness that has not been clearly thought out, not to mention communicated to the person doing the estimating.
Present estimates in either a range or by indicating your level of confidence. For example, our project team estimates this will cost $100,000, and we have a confidence level of -20% to +60% (meaning it could very possibly fall between $80,000 and $160,000).
Understand the definition of an estimate. In many knowledge projects (such as engineering, research, IT, creative, etc) the time work takes to create unique deliverables can be extremely difficult to accurately estimate. And eventually the estimation discussion turns into a risk tolerance question. It generally needs to be agreed that without seriously inflating estimates to turn them into guarantees, that schedules are best planned with some flexibility and contingency for going over. There are diminishing returns in over-analyzing the project.
Ask SMEs. Subject matter experts can be a big help, especially in informing project managers what the commonly overlooked work or costs are. There are very common estimation omissions. You will benefit from questioning what they are.
16. Network Diagramming
Detailed instructions, practice exercises, and a problem scenario are available in the workbook.
17-18. Scheduling and Workload Leveling
After you have your idealized network diagram, you will need to negotiate the workload leveled work dates with your project team. Start at the left of your project network diagram to meet with your team members and their department managers, perform the workload leveling, and schedule the work as actual appointments for the upcoming 3 months. For the remainder of the project schedule it is normal to plan around milestone dates.
19. Cost Budgeting
The cost budget is generally the sponsor-approved total cost baseline of a project. This often includes the estimated amount plus any approved project contingency and management reserves.
Sum of Costs of Work packages
+Total Project Cost Contingency/Reserves
+ Management Contingency/Reserves
= Total Project Budget
20. Procurement Plan
For each significantly sized procured service or product answer the following questions:
21. Quality Plan
The workbook helps in the definition of your quality parameters, quality aids, and in setting technical specifications.
22. Human Resource Planning
The Responsibility Assignment Matrix (RAM) is one of the HR resource planning templates in the workbook.
23. Risk Plan
An example of a risk identification form and the risk log is provided in the workbook. The Project risk game is a good tool for learning about the project risk management process.
24. Change Control Plan
An example change control form is included in the workbook.
25. Communication Plan
Consider including the following components with your communication plan:
26. Baseline Project Plan
This is the initial version of all of the elements planned for the project including the WBS, schedule, time-based budget, and plan for how the resources, quality risk, communications, and procurement is planned. It often includes a visual/graphic of this plan as a line chart showing the increasing project planned value over the course of the project schedule.
27. Project Plan Approval
When you have the plan completed entirely, review the baseline project plan with the major sponsor. Make sure you include a sample of the format planned for the project status reports, and then request sponsor sign-off. Note requested plan changes and sponsor rules for change thresholds:
28 Acquire Project Team
In this conversation “fast is slow and slow is fast”.
The first thing to do is assigning people to work on your project tasks. Talk to the individuals and/or their manager (depending upon your organizational processes). Make sure that they have, or can rearrange things to have, the time available to do the work. As the work is going on, check back to ensure they don’t have too much work and carefully monitor the progress. Reallocate tasks, support through training and problem solving, and provide feedback and reinforcements as needed.
29. Develop Project Team
The development of the project team also often involves taking steps to improve the team interactions and skill competencies for the project.
30. Complete Work Packages
This is the executing of the project work. This is the effort of creating the project deliverables as scoped in the project work breakdown structure.Remember that completion measures accomplishment, not effort expended. Consider using the 0-50-100 rule for tracking the completion of work packages.
Track this percent complete either in a Gantt chart or in the WBS.
31. Scope Verification
This is the work of obtaining formal acceptance of the completed project deliverables.
32. Information Distribution
This includes providing team member work information such as the WBS Dictionary executing the communication management plan, often including providing project status reports and facilitating project meetings, as well as responding to unexpected requests for information.
33. Quality Assurance
This involves the work of applying the quality plan, or more specifically to ensure that the project has the necessary quality tools and techniques, performing the quality audits, and analyzing the processes. The results of quality assurance include making improvements to the project deliverables, processes, and/or plan.
34. Procurement Solicitation and Selection
The workbook shows a example of a Weighted Decision Matrix as a tool to assist in the seller selection process.
35. Overall Change Control
Keep a log of the Change Decisions (tracked from step 24), manage and control the changes to keep the project in balance and all of the plans integrated.
36. Scope Control
The project manager works to influence both the factors that create project scope changes and the impact of those changes. This includes noticing when changes are occurring, filtering out changes from inappropriate people, and ensuring that changes that are accepted into the project are beneficial.
37. Performance Reporting
This involves collecting and distributing performance information on the project status (often including schedule, budget, quality, risk and team performance information). This often also includes using the status information to forecast the future results.
38. Schedule Control
Determine the current schedule status and what the variance is from the plan. Work on influencing the factors that might affect the schedule, determining what may be causing any large schedule changes, and managing the schedule changes as they do occur.Post your schedule report in the Earned Value chart with step 43-44.
39. Contract Administration
The work of managing the agreement and performance between the buyer and the vendor/seller. This also involves managing contract-related changes.
40. Manage Project Team
Managing the project team involves tracking team member performance, providing feedback, resolving issues, and coordinating changes to enhance the project performance. It usually involves communicating both formally and informally with team members.
The workbook contains a helpful checklist of questions a PM should ask themselves regarding setting up their team members to be accountable and to help in fixing performance problems.
41. Manage by Exception to the Project Plan
If the project has been well-planned and work is proceeding on track, communications may expect to be focused on those aspects of the project that are not exactly as planned. When questions arrive the project plan should answer most predictable questions. This frees the project manager to address the things that are differing from the baseline project plan – usually meaning they are spending most of their time managing the project changes to improve the project results.
42. Quality Control
43. Risk Monitoring and Control
44. Cost Control
45. Manage Stakeholders
The project manager must communicate with the stakeholders to inform, resolve issues, and set accurate expectations with the people who have interest in the project. This is especially important whenever there are problems on the project.
The workbook provides a good checklist of tips for this.
46. Procurement Audits
The project manager must lead the buyers work of inspecting and identifying any weaknesses in the seller’s work processes or deliverables.
47. Product Verification
Evaluating a deliverable at the end of a project or project phase with the intent to assure or confirm that it satisfies the planned intent. Review the final project WBS and validate that everything planned was included. This is often done immediately before the formal acceptance.
48. Formal Acceptance
Have the sponsor sign off and note any required “punch list” of minor work that can be completed after formal project close-out.
49. Lessons Learned and Best Practices
The workbook provides a sample agenda for this meeting including a project report cards, lessons learned questions, and action challenges for improving the sharing of lessons learned and best practices.
50-51. Update Records and Archive Records
Documenting the final information pertaining to the acceptance documentation, project files, closure documents, and lessons learned. This often includes the completion of any needed compliance documentation. Archiving involves putting the updated project records into a long-term storage location for later retrieval as needed.
Review the list of “Out of Scope” work and forward it with recommendations when appropriate. Also review the “Wish List for Future Projects” and communicate it for consideration for future project selections.
52. Release Team
Acknowledgement and communication that the project team members have completed the required temporary work and that their services will no longer be required for this project. Often this is a point of recognition of the individual team member contributions, appreciation of their efforts, performance reporting, and transition to other activities.