Managing a complex engineering project is a challenging task and there is a lot that can go wrong. The project life cycle is a framework that breaks projects into smaller steps for better management. This helps project teams navigate projects from beginning to end in a controlled and consistent manner.
At Proteus, we work with a variety of clients who work on teams that either ‘own’ the project (for example, the developer of an offshore windfarm) or companies who supply into those projects, for example, leading industrial engineering consultancies. For both types of clients, we find their primary challenge is being able to optimise each stage of the project lifecycle in order to stay in control and ultimately drive a successful business.
It is important to understand each phase of a project’s life cycle. This is crucial for meeting deadlines, working efficiently, and achieving high-quality outcomes. In this blog, we will explain the five main project life cycle phases and then discuss how project management tools and software can improve the efficiency of each stage.
What is the Project Life Cycle?
The project life cycle includes the stages project managers go through to start, carry out, and finish a project. The framework outlined by the Project Management Institute (PMI) is made up of five stages.
- Project Initiation
- Project Planning
- Project Execution
- Project Closure.
The project management life cycle is significant as it offers project teams a structured and streamlined approach to project work. This project life cycle ensures the successful completion of projects in energy, engineering, or construction, regardless of the field. It guarantees a structured approach.
Each stage of the cycle forms a crucial foundation for the following phase which makes the work more manageable.
Phases of the Project Management Life Cycle
The project initiation phase marks the start of the project. It involves identifying a need or problem that requires a project to solve.
At this stage, managers check if the project is possible, make a plan, and start writing a proposal. At the end of this stage, the project is outlined. Objectives and goals are defined. Scope, deliverables, and stakeholders are identified.
The project planning phase essentially provides a roadmap for the project. This involves breaking down the elements that have been broadly outlined in the initiation phase into smaller more manageable tasks.
Having a detailed understanding of what is required at each stage is important. For instance, who will participate, what is the timeframe, and what is a realistic budget for the tasks at hand? This stage also ensures that team members know what is expected within each task across the project.
Some key considerations within this phase include:
- Resource planning
- Financial planning
- Communication plan
- Change management procedures
- Risk plan
Making detailed project plans at the beginning helps ensure successful project execution and reduces the chances of problems like scope creep.
Project execution involves putting the project plans into motion whether it is a small-scale hydroelectric project or building a giant offshore wind farm, this phase consumes the most time and effort from project teams.
It is imperative that project managers make sure that the project is progressing in adherence to the project plan and that they keep all stakeholders appropriately informed of the project’s progress.
Controlling and monitoring are sometimes combined with the project execution phase rather than being viewed as a separate stage. Ultimately, effective project tracking is integral to completing successful projects.
In this phase, project managers must keep a close eye on resources, timelines, and budgets so that the project delivers what was promised at the right cost and on time.
Closely monitoring project progress also enables project managers to identify issues or potential changes that need to be made before there are any negative consequences.
- Project Closure
The final stage of a project is the closeout, and project completion marks it most obviously. Project managers can evaluate project success by considering three factors: timeliness, budget adherence, and quality of outcomes. They can review if they completed the project within the agreed timeframe and budget. Additionally, they can assess the quality of the outcomes produced.
Project managers can meet with the project team after completing the project. During this meeting, they will review and analyse each stage of the project.
The purpose of this review is to identify what went well and what didn’t. Additionally, they will discuss ways to improve future projects. This stage is particularly beneficial in providing a roadmap for future projects.
How to Improve the Project Management Life Cycle with Project Management Software
Project management software, like Proteus, enables project managers to leverage technology and data to simplify all phases of the project management life cycle as well as enhance their efficiency.
Let’s take a brief look at some examples of how project management software can optimise the project management process.
Project management software provides templates for faster and easier project proposal writing with automated data, timelines, and charts.
In this phase, software makes the allocation of resources and scheduling easy for project managers. With Proteus, project managers can easily see and allocate resources efficiently for their projects.
Execution & control phases
Project management software provides a single source of truth for monitoring and controlling project progress. Cloud-based software solutions are particularly valuable as project teams can conveniently access project data anytime and anywhere.
The visualisation offered by project management software is a game changer. Dashboards and graphs, such as Gantt charts, give real-time insights into project progress. This allows project managers to be fully informed and make decisions quickly.
For example, Proteus displays earned value in S-curves alongside actual costs and planned costs so that cost variances are presented. This encourages proactivity and ensures that project management professionals can intervene quickly to minimise going over budget in pursuit of maximising project success.
Proteus, with the variations feature, ensures that your company’s workflow approves all changes. This prevents unauthorised scope changes and helps keep your projects on track.
After completing the project, project management software stores project documentation and data from across the project. Project management software centralises data for project managers to evaluate performance and make improvements for future projects.
The project management life cycle supplies project management professionals with a valuable structure to effectively approach projects. Each stage of the cycle supports the next and each phase is necessary to produce high-level project outcomes.
Project management software has transformed the project management life cycle by simplifying and increasing the efficiency of the process. The transparency offered by project management software ensures that project teams can meet deadlines, stay organised and adapt quickly.
About Proteus Project Software
Xergy Group’s Proteus project management software works with your existing systems and scales as your business grows. Created by project management leaders, for the diversified engineering consultancy sector, Proteus delivers an end-to-end work management software platform with detailed workflows from the early opportunity stage through to project delivery.
Proteus’ end-to-end project management software is a cloud-based system designed for businesses of all sizes to handle projects of unlimited complexity. Proteus is compliant with common project management frameworks and ISO standards. Each feature aims to make bottom-line improvements by improving utilisation, streamlining workflows, providing quick and efficient access to resources, and reducing overheads. Check out some of our client case studies to learn more about how Proteus makes a tangible difference.
How to get Proteus
We recommend getting setup on a free trial. Proteus operates under a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. We offer flexible tiers and bespoke development services. The Standard tier starts at $40 per user per month and Pro is $55 per user per month. Billing is monthly or annually and we offer Enterprise packages for larger clients. For more information on our pricing visit our pricing page or get in touch with one of the team.
We designed Proteus to be simple, and that means you can get up and running on Proteus without an IT team or support from a programmer. You will want to spend a bit of time configuring the admin console so that you have everything set up to suit your company structure, but it’s very intuitive and you don’t need a PhD in IT. However, we want you to get the best out of what is a brilliantly powerful tool, so don’t hesitate to ask for our support. We have a team of product experts who are ready to help you with the configuration process, so get in touch today by filling out the form below: