Recently a reader, Imran, posted a comment asking for clarification on concepts such as project life cycle, project phases and project management process groups. After reading his comments, I realized that many others might be having similar doubts and it would be more appropriate to address his questions through a separate blog post rather than responding through comments. In this article, I’m trying to explain 5 key concepts by drawing an analogy between products and human beings. I hope you’ll find it interesting and useful.
Product Life Cycle
If we think of a human being as a product, then the entire life of the human being from the time it’s conceptualized (or conceived) to its death can be considered as its product life cycle.
As every human being has only one life (unless you believe in life after death), every product has one life cycle.
The phases of human life such as prenatal, child, adolescence, adult and death can be considered as product phases. Product phases are generally sequential and non-overlapping, though you may see some adults behaving like children :).
Project Life Cycle
Schooling, college education and work life can be considered as projects. There’s only one project life cycle for every project.
For a schooling project, each year (grade) of school can be considered as a project phase. In a schooling project, the phases are (usually) sequential, but in real world projects, the project phases can overlap.
Project Management Process Groups
Before you enter a new grade, you or your parents (sponsors) identify the need to continue your education, and enroll you into the next grade (initiating). Various aspects (finances, uniforms, books, tuitions, boarding etc.) of your schooling are planned (planning). You attend classes (executing) and teachers evaluate and monitor your progress throughout the year and corrective actions are taken if required (monitoring and controlling). At the end of the year, you take the final exams, get your grades and celebrate (closing).
Usually, each of the 5 project management process groups are repeated for each phase of the project.
I hope this short article helps you get a gist of these common, but often confusing project management concepts. Your comments and suggestions are welcome as usual.