Project Management

Back to PM Basics (Part 2): Expanding the Foundations of Project Management

Following 20 years at a large Canadian telecommunications firm, Bruce established the project management consulting firm Solutions Management Inc (SMI). Since 1999, he has provided contract project/program management services, been a source for project management support personnel and created/delivered courses to over 7,000 participants in Canada, the United States and England.

This is the second article in a series that builds a foundation of project management knowledge. In Back to PM Basics (Part 1): Introduction, readers were introduced to the definition of a project, some basic project management terminology, and how project management skills contrast and compliment other managerial positions. We will now move forward with expanding the foundations of project management.

The Project Lifecycle
A project lifecycle typically involves four phases. Ideally, each phase is completed before the next begins. For example, documentation created in the initiating phase is completed prior to the beginning of the planning phase, all planning is completed before executing (implementation) begins, and so on.

In reality, planning can begin once the project charter (which we’ll learn more about later) is complete, and likewise, work often begins (executing) before the plan is 100% complete. This approach continues into the closing phase, which regularly overlaps with executing as project phases are completed and lessons learned are accumulated.

Notice in the chart below that the level of effort (y-axis) and relative time (x-axis) together reflect the amount of work being completed from a project management perspective. While not to scale, the diagram contrasts the four phases.

When the lifecycle is complete, the product or service is handed off …

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