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APM Project Fundamentals Podcast – Project Lifecycle

Why do we have a project lifecycle? Plants and animals have a lifecycle – they are born, live and die in the simplest sense so projects are the same. In this podcast we look in more detail at the project lifecycle.



We break the project into a number of stages in the lifecycle but why do we do that?


It’s a fundamental way of planning – if you have a large piece of work to do, you break it up into smaller chunks.

Even on small projects it is helpful to do this because it gives the work some structure and the opportunity for sponsors to buy in to the project.

The lifecycle communicates when things are going to happen – it is NOT a plan but a high level framework for delivering the project.


The APM break a lifecycle into 4 phases:

Concept – preparation of the business case (which is the mechanism to obtain funding or have funding approved) –  it describes what we are going to do, how much it will cost, how long it will take, what might go wrong and what the end result will be.


Definition – planning the detail of how we are going to deliver the project and that leads to the project management plan.


Development – planning and the delivery of the project – so the schedule, estimating and re-estimating. For example, if you are building a house – it is in this phase that you actually start building, having already obtained funding, planning permission etc. in the previous phases.


Hand Over and Close – This is an often forgotten phase where you hand over the completed project to the “business as usual” teams, who can state whether the predicted benefits have been achieved.


And there are “gates” between each phase of the lifecycle where you can take stock of progress.

So a lifecycle is required because you do work in small parts; it allows you to think about things in the right way – in a structured manner – before spending too much money. It breaks the work into manageable chunks.

About Michelle Symonds

Michelle Symonds spent the first part of her career working in IT and IT Project Management in the oil industry and investment banking on complex global projects involving the management of outsourced project teams. She now runs a digital marketing company with particular expertise in SEO.

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