Projects have a start and are beginning, plans are created, plans are implemented and then the project closes. That could be described as a simple project lifecycle as a project lifecycle is a framework for managing a project.
The type of lifecycle chosen depends on the nature of the project work. The definition of a project lifecycle is a collection of sequential project phases whose name and number are determined by the project needs, and these may be documented within a methodology.
Different industries often require different and specific types of work. In a similar way the deliverables or products of a project are also unique. The definition of a project phase is a collection of logically related project activities leading to the completion of a major deliverable. A project phases or component of a project lifecycle and is entirely different to a project management process group.
In one industry, the phases may be called concept definition, requirements gathering, planning, ect. Whereas in a different industry or phases might be called establish goals, process mapping, planning, and so forth.
Most life cycles have a sequential relationship in that one phase ends before another phase begins, but some phases can overlap. An example here is that some building can start even though detailed design is yet complete.
Overlapping project phases can compress the overall project duration and this is often called “fast-tracking”.
At the end of each phase is normal to have a phase gate review which is used to compare your planned progress against your actual deliverables. At this point, it is normal to refine your plans for the next phase and apply any lessons learned for the remainder of the project.
The so called “gate review” can be used to determine whether a project should continue or not. It maybe that the results are not as we expected, that the need for the project has changed, or that the risk is too great. For any of these reasons, management may decide to cancel the project. If this is the case, then this part completed project should not be seen as a failure, but rather, as a positive review in that stopping the project only is far better than to continue expanding resources on an endeavour that is no longer viable or no longer needed.
Another factor of life and an advantage of splitting your project into lifecycle phases, is that making changes earlier in the life cycle is much easier. As the project progresses, changes to the project are much more costly to implement.
It is important to understand the difference between a product lifecycle and a project lifecycle.
A product lifecycle is the life of a product from conception through to retirement. This means that a product lifecycle continues after the project has been closed, since it includes using the end product or deliverable in its operational life.
During the operational life of the project end-product, benefits will be realized. Ultimately there will come a time when the product has completed its useful life and will either be retired or upgraded in some way.
The definition of a product lifecycle is a collection of sequential, non overlapping product phases whose name and number are driven by the manufacturing and control needs of the organization.