E2: The Project Management Life-cycle

Carrying on from last weeks post on the CIMA E2 subject “Project Management”, today I will be looking at the the four D’s that Maylor identified as the the project management life-cycle and what each stage means.

Maylor – The Four D’s

Well managed projects, as identified by Maylor, will plan to go through the four discreet stages mentioned below in their life cycle.

CaptureDefine

The beginning of the project is the most crucial as defining the scope and deliverable’s is the foundation of any successful project. Without a clear define stage the project team will effectively be working with their eyes closed.

There are several smaller steps or areas to consider:

  • Purpose: what is the purpose and goal of the project?
  • Project Team: the project team needs to be defined and organised.
  • Feasibility Study: the aim here to prevent unfeasible projects to get the green light. Key risks are identified and consideration is given as how to manage the associated risks. The BEST categories can be used for the feasibility study.
  1. Business – meets the business needs.
  2. Economic – costs v benefits of the project.
  3. Social – effects on people such as motivation.
  4. Technical – is the project technically possible to complete.
  • Business Case: once the feasibility test has been carried out the results are documented in the business case which is then given to the project sponsor or the project board for approval.

Design

The second stage of the project life-cycle is the design stage and will require more resources than the define stage and will also take longer time to complete. The idea behind the design stage is gather feedback and research the possible solutions and associated resources and materials required to complete the project.

Here are the different steps in the design stage of the project life-cycle.

  • Research: surveys and research are conducted to clarify the project details and to assess the potential problems.
  • Position Analysis: the SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis can be used to  examine all areas of the project with a focus on the threats and risks of the project. For example, to develop the solution an expertise in IT programming might be required and the company has no experts in this area. So external contractors will need to be hired to address this problem.
  • Task Planning: by now there is a clear set of objectives but a set of detailed tasks need to be defined and planned. Now is the time to do that – tools like gant charts or network charts can be used to monitor the progress of the project tasks.
  • Options Generation/Evaluation: the possible approaches to achieving a successful project are generated and evaluated.

Deliver

I’ve highlighted the Deliver box in green above to illustrate the fact this will take the most time and require the most resources in the project life-cycle. It covers the end to end of process of putting the meat on the bones of the project – project start-up all the way to project hand-over.

  • Start-up: now the project team is assembled and objectives are clear with detailed tasks the work can now begin on the project.
  • Execute: quite simply, the project team will be executing the activities defined.
  • Monitor: the project manager will be responsible for monitoring the progress of the project and addressing any roadblocks or concerns raised by the project team.
  • Completion: this should involved finalising of all of the deliverable’s, closing the project down (project team appraisals, paying bills, returning resources etc.)
  • Hand-over: the outcome of the project should be handed over to the end customer.

Develop

Now the project has been handed over to the customer the final stage of “Develop” takes place. It’s a relatively short stage but very crucial to understand the lessons learnt.

  • Review: the project is reviewed and if all stakeholders were satisfied with the results and the delivering of the project.
  • Feedback: the lessons learned of the project should be formally documented and reported to the sponsor. They are also used for to improve the delivery and efficiency of future projects.

Successful Projects

To get a flavour of successful projects that have been carried out and how the fared through the project life-cycle, I have gathered a couple of examples below that make for interesting reading.

Automotive Industry: Company reduces HR expenses by 66% in seven months.

London 2012 Olympics: The construction programme for London 2012

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