What is the project life cycle – an example – Project Owner Perspective

Since our post on why project planning is not a project phase, and the question from a reader about “_______ Life Cycle” we have been writing about this subject.

We wrote about:

Today we will add with the definition and explanation of the project life cycle, with a focus on Project Owner perspective. Then, in a few days we will publish an article from a Service Provider perspective.The following text is from our upcoming Redefining the Basics of Project Management book.

Project Life Cycle Definition

Since this book is about project management, it is time to return to that subject and we do so with another question: what is the ‘project life cycle’?

The simple answer is, the ‘project life cycle’ is a span of time from start to end of a given project. However, where those starts and ends begin and finish is not as simple as it looks.

Project Life Cycle from whose Perspective

The question ‘what is the project life cycle’ cannot be fully answered until we know more about the situation.

  • For example, who wants to know?
  • From whose perspective is the question?
  • What is the background of the person asking or what type of organization does he or she represent?

This is important since the word project and the phrase project life cycle can mean different things to different people; it all depends on how you relate to the scenario. Before answering the life cycle question, a key distinction needs to be determined:  is the questioner a Service Provider or a Project Owner?

CAM2P™ Perspective

CAM2P™ adopts the view of the project life span from the perspective of the Idea Owner or Project Developer. These terms do not refer to a particular person, such as the one who came up with the idea. The terms refer to the organization that is developing and will own the project’s product. In this context, we will use the term ‘Project Owner’.

“Is this always the case?”

No, this is only one perspective. However, unless otherwise noted, whenever we use the term project life span in the book it is from the perspective of the Project Owner.

I am a Service Provider, why are you only viewing this from the perspective of the Project Owner? How does my perspective fit in?

Please do not rush since we are visiting you soon. Further, who said that the above does not have you in mind? If you consider yourself a ‘provider’, of services or goods, we ask you to have two hats handy:

  • The first hat: regardless of who you are and what your organization does, you have your own internal projects. In those cases (internal projects), you are the project owner. Everything we writing about in this book apply to you, do not you agree?
  • The second hat: this second hat is the hat you wear when you are working to deliver a service to a client, the Project Owner. We cover this perspective later in this chapter.

Project Owner Perspective

With this topic, we do touch on the service provider perspective but only as it relates to the project owner’s project life span.

The-SUKAD-CAM2P-Project-StagesLet us go back to our scenario, the water bottling plant, and consider other perspectives.

You are a senior manager in an investment company in the food and beverage business and you want to build a water bottling plant. Let us also say, that your company has expertise in these types of projects. Also let us assume that the standard CAM2P™ model applies to your project. What would, the various activities along your project life cycle, be like? Let us follow the CAM2P™ stages.

Pre-Launch Stage – Idea to Project Authorization Document

It would be safe to say that your company has the necessary expertise to carry out all of this work internally; which would be clarifying the idea and carrying out a feasibility study.

Launch Stage – Basic Requirements to Project Management Plan

If the company has the required capabilities (and capacity) in-house, then it is likely that the company has the necessary expertise to handle this stage as well. If they do not have this expertise, then the company may need to outsource some of the work to define the required facilities but company personnel are likely to develop the project management plan.

As an alternate, let us say the project owner company (your organization) does not have any expertise in-house to define the requirements or to develop the project management plan. Then you will need to hire a specialized service provider for this work.

  • Regardless of which alternative you select, from the perspective of the ‘Project Owner’ this is only the project launch stage, on the owner project life span.
  • However, for your service provider – who will provide you with these services – then this ‘project owner stage’ is the ‘provider full project’. The provider’s project output is delivering the basic requirements document!

Definition Stage – Project Management Plan to Project Detailed Plan

It is likely that owners’ organizations do not have the internal expertise to develop the project detailed plan (this could be industrial design for the plant) and will likely utilize the services of specialized service providers who have the necessary expertise for the given industry.[1]

  • From the perspective of the project owner, this is only the definition stage.
  • From the perspective of the service provider, then this owner stage is the project with the project output being the project detailed plan; that is it!

Implementation Stage – Project Approval to Handover

For an industrial plant, we split the stage into two stages:[2] a detailed engineering stage and a construction stage. Each of these functions may require a separate provider. Alternatively, we can utilize a design/build contract, which means one company will design and build the plant.

  • As with the previous stage, from the perspective of the ‘Project Owner’ this is only the implementation stage, which consists of two stages (sub-stages), the design and construction stages.
  • However, for the service provider (assuming one provider), then this owner stage is the full project. The project output is initially the engineering design and later the construction!

Operation Readiness Stage

A similar approach applies for the operation readiness stage; although this stage is likely to be the project owner effort, since the focus is on operating the facility after the service provider demobilize.

Close Stage

Similar to the operation readiness stage, this stage is likely to be owner effort since the focus is on closing the project from the operating organization’s perspective.

Until next time, have a wonderful time:-)

[1] This is not universally true since some organizations might have the capacity to develop and deliver these types of projects. However, based on our observations this is rare in the marketplace today.

[2] Or two sub-stages. Which is correct: two stages or sub-stages? It is a matter of organizational preference. In the context of this chapter, we use two stages if we have two service providers, one for each stage and we use two sub-stages if we have one service provider handling the engineering and construction activities.