Initiation is the first phase of the project lifecycle. This is where the project’s value and feasibility are measured. Project managers typically use two evaluation tools to decide whether or not to pursue a project:
- Business Case Document – This document justifies the need for the project, and it includes an estimate of potential financial benefits.
- Feasibility Study – This is an evaluation of the project’s goals, timeline and costs to determine if the project should be executed. It balances the requirements of the project with available resources to see if pursuing the project makes sense.
Teams abandon proposed projects that are labeled unprofitable and/or unfeasible. However, projects that pass these two tests can be assigned to a project team or designated project office.
Once the project receives the green light, it needs a solid plan to guide the team, as well as keep them on time and on budget. A well-written project plan gives guidance for obtaining resources, acquiring financing and procuring required materials. The project plan gives the team direction for producing quality outputs, handling risk, creating acceptance, communicating benefits to stakeholders and managing suppliers.
The project plan also prepares teams for the obstacles they might encounter over the course of the project, and helps them understand the cost, scope and time frame of the project.
This is the phase that is most commonly associated with project management. Execution is all about building deliverables that satisfy the customer. Team leaders make this happen by allocating resources and keeping team members focused on their assigned tasks.
Execution relies heavily on the planning phase. The work and efforts of the team during the execution phase are derived from the project plan.
Teams close a project when they deliver the finished project to the customer.