Feedback please – Section 5

Paul Naybour

List five key phases of a typical life cycle and describe the activities undertaken during each of them

  1. Concept
  2. Definition
  3. Development
  4. Handover
  5. Closure


  1. Concept –The concept phase takes into consideration all the work carried out up to the point, and then includes the production of the business case. It includes the feasibility studies for the project to allow an option for the development of the project to be under a decision process. The project sponsor is highly involved at this stage and may appoint a project manager to assist them.
  2. Definition – At this phase, the chosen option for the project is then taken and developed into the project management plan. This takes into consideration all the elements of the PMP including risk management, quality, stakeholders, etc. This plan full identifies all aspects of the project, and needs to be fully signed off at this stage. The business case changes needs to be reflected in the PMP so it is fully up to date for the next stage.
  3. Development – In respect to a construction project, this is the construction phase in which the new development is physically produced according to the PMP. This would encompass the finalisation of design items, contractor appointment and executing of the project to the deliverables outlined including programme, cost, time and quality. The project manager will hold a great level of responsibility at this stage, as they are the key player in ensuring the executing of the project success.
  4. Handover – The handover phase is when the product is accepted by the end user or client. At this stage, the project will be referenced against the deliverables to ensure they have been fully met against the PMP under an acceptance criteria process. In a construction project of a new school, the handover phase would be the acceptance of the school from the local authority, and the ownership transferred to the end user. This will also include the production of as built drawings and O & M manuals.
  5. Closure – The closure phase is the administrative closure of the project, and the point in which the project team is disbanded. The project team will ensure that the end user understands how to operate the product, and ensure all documents are archived correctly. It is also important that lessons learned are discussed at this point, and shared amongst the organisation.

4 thoughts on “Feedback please – Section 5”

  1. Paul second sample question from Project Life Cycles

    • List five key phases of a typical life cycle & describe the activities undertaken during each of them.
    1. Concept.
    2. Definition.
    3. Development.
    4. Handover
    5. Closure.

    1. Concept phase is overseen by the project sponsor but the project manager may have already been appointed and be the one who actually develops the business case. This phase incorporates everything up to and including the business case, which includes the feasibility and optioneering to arrive at a chosen solution for development into the project. The business case may not be final at this stage as the project management plan evolves through the concept and finally the definition phases influencing the final content.

    2. Definition phase includes the final production of the project management plan, which incorporates the risk management plan and quality plan etc. The primary output of the definition phase is the project management plan as this documents the entirety of the project and what it will produce (the products) and must reflect any changes to the business case and vice versa. The final stage of the definition phase is the progression to the development phase.

    3. Development phase encompasses the construction of the all the components that comprise the end product of the project according to the plans constructed in the definition phase. The development stage may be made up of multiple stages, each of which is separated by a stage review that allows for proper evaluation of progress. The main outputs are the products of the project.

    4. Handover phase is the process of commissioning of the products and bringing them into practical use. During handover all the deliverables will be checked that they fulfill the specifications created at the start of the project, create operating procedures, O&M manuals, provide appropriate training on the new products to the end users, ensure final acceptance takes place (acceptance certificate) and that the users take ownership of the products, releasing the project staff.

    5. Closure phase is the administrative closure of the project and disbanding of the team, acceptance is the key output of the phase as this signifies the users acceptance of the products into operational service. During this phase the project team will ensure that the users understand how to operate the products and use them to obtain the benefit they anticipated. The users will start to take delivery of the new products moving them into normal operational use through the commissioning period. Archiving of materials and documentation is completed, assets utilised to deliver the project other than people are disposed of, project buildings vacated, hardware returned and waste materials recycled. Participate in lessons learned forums so that all lessons learned throughout the project are identified and can therefore be shared throughout the business for the benefits of later projects.

  2. Paul, working through the new study guide and would appreciate some feedback please on the sample questions below. Explain five distinct benefits of using a structured life cycle approach.

    One benefit of a project lifecycle is it easily communicates the logical progressions of the project from one phase to the next. This is important to make sure projects follow a logical flow for example completing a consideration of the business case before committing significant funding and making sure a project management plan is prepared before committing major resources. An example of this might be the approval of the business case by the sponsor and the sponsoring organisation before the project embarks on a detailed definition phase. This makes sure all the senior stakeholders as signed up to the project objectives before the planning starts in earnest.
    A second benefit of a structured project lifecycle is that it provides obvious points between phases at which a project can logically be stopped. This is important because it allows the sponsoring organisation to review the business case, plans and risks, allowing time for detailed plans for the next phase to be agreed or indeed the project stopped completely. An example of this could be that the business case is found to no longer meet the requirements of the business and therefore the business case delivery of benefits, by stopping the project at this obvious hold point, time, cost and resource loss is kept to minimum. This process ensures that that a project continues to be viable through scrutiny at the gate reviews.
    A third benefit of the structured project lifecycle is when combined with the principal of the project processes it helps us understand in greater detail the evolution of a project. This is important because it allows us to identify areas that require greater attention at different times, an example of this is a greater requirement for risk management in the early stages due to unknowns and development of the business case and PMP, ensuring that enough attention, resource and planning are given over to mitigate any issues.
    A fourth benefit of the structured project lifecycle is that by ensuring that the project passes through the gates at the gate reviews detailed attention is given to the early stages of the project. This is important as it ensures the organisation has indeed reviewed the relevant information (business case/PMP) and that they are happy to proceed or if there are changes required before they can move on to the next phase. An example being that the business case objectives have matured as the PMP has developed and need to be updated at the definition stage so the benefits realisation are in line with the business case when the project is finally handed over and closed.
    A fifth benefit of a structured project lifecycle is that the stage reviews allow the project to identify any variance with planned progress and actuals. This is important as it allows the project team to put in place corrective actions to bring these variances back into line with the KPI’s. An example of this could be progress on site, progress is behind where it should be, causes are identified and agreed, additional resource requirements are identified, agreed and implemented in a collaborative manner to bring the works back into line with the schedule.

  3. Kate another very good answer, I wonder if you are doing them with the book closed. If so well done, if not then give it a try.

  4. Describes five different types of project reviews
    1.Gate Reviews – This review process is completed in formal manner usually at the end of both the concept and definition phases of the lifecycle. This is usually concerning a formal gate or where a grant permission of required to allow the project to proceed. The sponsor usually leads the gate reviews, and they are in place to analyse the future viability of the project before the next stage is commenced. It ensures that the sponsor is demonstrating that a great level of control is being adopted and ensures progress is being made at the pace required.
    2.Stage reviews – These reviews are carried out during the project development phase. The project is reviewed against KPIs to establish that all activities are progressing as plan has set out. This will be held by the sponsor with the project manager and his team’s involvement and the project will be recorded against progress of the parameters of time, cost and quality. The review will identify any corrective actions that need to be carried out to ensure the project remains on track, and any risks that need to be mitigated. The number of reviews will depend on the length of the project, and usually carried out at defined intervals.
    3.End of project reviews –This review is carried out soon after the project is complete. The key element of this meeting to capture lessons learned, and analyse the success criteria and also the project management skills and techniques executed and their effectiveness. The organisation will receive feedback on the success of the projects, and advice on how to improve areas that may have not went according to plan. The completion of the project will be documented and all the relevant documentation. This is also an opportunity to praise and reward team members on success.
    4. Benefits Realisation Reviews – This review can only be carried out when the products have been handed over and an evaluation of the benefits prepared. The sponsor would chair this meeting to analyse the achievement of the benefits outlined in the original business case. This is an opportunity for the project to be recognised for making a difference, and identify areas where benefits have not been achieved, and actions that can be taken to rectify.
    5.Audit – Audits are carried out by an external organisation but can be internal to the sponsoring organisation. They will carry out a more procedural approach to ensure that the organisation is conforming to its values and procedures to analyse its success. This can be made of various elements including health & safety, quality, commercial etc. They usually are involved in a larger organisation relating to good practice for example BSI.

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