Project Life Cycle: What is it and How it Works

Throughout the years, there have been many methods and techniques that are here to help project managers and their team carry out their projects.

You can find complex and specific models, as well as simple yet effective ones. Today, you’ll get to see everything behind the Project life cycle, a traditional tool that helps your project get to the finish line.

Besides the concept of the Project life cycle concept, you’ll discover who’s behind its creation, the five main stages that define this model, and why it is important.

Stay tuned to learn an efficient mechanism for the development of your project.

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What is the Project life cycle?

The project life cycle is the sequence of five stages a project goes through. It includes initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closure.

Upon respecting these stages while working on your project, you’ll be able to complete your project successfully.

project life cyle chart

TIP: Read our guide if you want to learn everything about project tracking: what is, how to do it, and its importance.

Who invented the Project life cycle?

The Project life cycle was created by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This methodology was demonstrated in one of the best project management books, Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK). 

The goal was to display a course of five stages, as you’ve seen above, that would lead the project manager and team into the project’s delivery. Below you’ll find the specifics behind every single stage of the Project life cycle.

Keep your projects’ time and budgets safe with the most accurate time tracking solution

What are the 5 stages of a project life cycle?

The five stages of a project life cycle are initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closure. Let’s explore them.

1. Project Initiation

This first step is where you decide if the project you’re getting involved in is worth all the next steps you’ll do next and if there’s a possibility for this to happen. 

It makes sense to start with these decisions because you would only waste your time if you proceed with the project without wondering about its future. Once there’s positive feedback, you’re okay to move forward.

a team planning a project

2. Project Planning

The project life cycle is all about planning, so you’re prepared for any setting, even if that means unforeseen events. To protect your project, there are certain plans you need to look out for:

  • Project plan: This entails all the tasks that must be completed throughout the different stages. A project management checklist might be a good idea at this stage;
  • Resource plan: A list of the human resources and skills that are needed for every specific task during the elaboration of this project;
  • Risk management plan: Estimation of what could go wrong on this project, its probability, and impact on;
  • Communication plan: This structures the hierarchy of communication to define who should be in charge of the communication in established periods;
  • Acceptance plan: A list demonstrating what’s a completed task in the context of this method.

TIP: Read our guide to learn what is a risk matrix and how it’s essential for risk assessment.

Project managers track their time with Timeular

3. Project Execution

This is where everyone gets their hands dirty and starts working on the project itself. 

With the plan already designed in the previous stage, everyone is bringing their effort into executing the assigned tasks while the project manager makes sure that the plan is going as envisioned. 

It also can happen that some team members might need to be oriented in some way, either through training or full briefings that describe everything in detail. 

You must keep your stakeholders updated on any development so that they feel they’re 100% included in the process.

Keep your projects’ time and budgets safe with the most accurate time tracking solution

4. Project Monitoring & Controlling

After moving through the project execution stage, this is the time to monitor and control the project. To make sure that everything is going as expected, you need to observe the following indicators:

  • Cost: Something that you need to monitor so your budget maintains as it was stated at the start;
    Read: The best ways to track project expenses
  • Time: It’s important to keep your and your team’s time as productive and effective as possible. Make sure that your time budget is good and the time assigned to each task is fair to everyone;
  • Risks: It’s essential to keep track of the risks of any given project, so you’re prepared for that possibility. It’ll help you anticipate and even eliminate any threat. 
  • Change: Monitor the potential and important changes that need to happen in your project. Make sure that you predict the necessity of change instead of dealing with it at the last minute;
  • Quality: Keep track of the quality of your final product during your project, making sure that the level of satisfaction is at an all-time high;
  • Acceptance: It’s essential to test your product, monitor the user acceptance factor, and approve the project’s completion.
a man monitoring a project management risk in a pc

5. Project Closure

This is one the most important stages because it ties everything together that was due until this last step.

At this time, the project manager and his team review everything that was done, from the earlier tasks to the finalization of the project.

It’s also important that you evaluate your team’s performance throughout the different stages and keep a record of all the documents and notes that were drafted during this process.

Did you know there are project management tools to monitor the project lifecycle?

Project life cycle importance and benefits

  • Helps to provide a clear and organized approach to project management;
  • Defines the phases that a project goes through;
  • Helps to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to complete the project;
  • Identify and manage risks;
  • Communicates progress to stakeholders;
  • Ensures that all stakeholders are aware of the goals and objectives of the project;
  • Aligns stakeholders throughout the life cycle;
  • Improves project performance outcomes;
  • Facilitates better and quick decision-making;
  • Helps to identify potential issues;
  • Helps in better budgeting and cost control;
  • Helps to measure the success of a project.

The project life cycle is vital because it provides a structured framework for managing a project from beginning to end. It defines the phases a project goes through, from initiation to closure, and helps ensure that all necessary steps are taken to complete the project successfully.

Free eBook: The Project Manager’s Handbook on Time Tracking

Get your step-by-step guide to master time tracking as a Project Manager

It also helps to identify, and manage risk, allocate resources, and communicate progress to stakeholders. Additionally, it helps to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the project goals and objectives of the project and that they’re aligned throughout the life cycle.

Overall, the project lifecycle helps provide a clear and organized approach to project management, leading to improved performance and outcomes.


Throughout this article, a common conclusion comes to mind when talking about this method – the journey to success. Although it’s a trivial concept, the Project life cycle and other methods aim to help you through the different steps your project might take along the way.

There’s a range of models that could help you in countless ways, but the Project life cycle allows you to shorten the long process of your project and clear the way with only five precise steps. If you stick to the knowledge this method offers, you’ll easily adapt and improve the way you work on future projects.

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