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The five stages of the project life cycle

The five stages of the project life cycle
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

In this section, we will explore the stages that a project goes through, from conception to completion.

Project management is mapped into process groups and knowledge areas by the Project Management Institute.

The five key process groups are initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling and closing. Most processes that we can think of will fall under these five basic processes; for example, in the construction industry, budgeting, costing and estimating falls under planning.


This process helps in the visualisation of what is to be accomplished. This is where the project is formally approved by the sponsor/client, initial scope defined, and stakeholders identified. This process is performed so that projects and programmes are not only approved by a sponsoring body, but also so that projects are aligned with the strategic objectives of the organisation. Where this is not performed, projects may be started and carried out haphazardly, with no real stated goal or objective.


This is a crucial process in project management. The planning process is at the heart of the project activity cycle, and gives guidance to stakeholders on where and how to undertake the project. The planning stage is where the project plans are documented, the project deliverables and requirements are defined, and the project schedule is created. It involves creating a set of plans to help guide your team through the implementation and closure phases of the project. The plans created during this phase will help the project team manage time, cost, quality, changes, risk and related issues.


This process is also known as the implementation phase, in which the plan designed in the previous phase of the project activity cycle is put into action. The intent of the execution phase of the project activity cycle is to bring about the project’s expected results. Normally, this is the longest phase of the project management life cycle, where most resources are applied. During the project execution, the execution team utilises all the schedules, procedures and templates that were prepared and anticipated during prior phases. Unexpected events and situations will inevitably be encountered, and the project manager and project team will have to deal with them as they arise.

Monitoring and control

This process oversees all the tasks and metrics needed to guarantee that the agreed and approved project that is undertaken is within scope, on time and within budget so that the project proceeds with minimum risk. This process involves comparing actual performance with planned performance and taking corrective action to yield the desired outcome when significant differences exist.


This is considered to be the last process of the project activity cycle. In this stage, the project is formally closed and then a report is produced to the project sponsor/client on the overall level of success of the completed project. The closing process involves handing over the deliverables to the sponsor/client, handing over documentation to the owners, cancelling supplier contracts, releasing staff and equipment, and informing stakeholders of the closure of the project.

Your task

What are some of the challenges you think the project manager will encounter at each stage of the project life cycle?
Discuss your thoughts with your fellow learners.


PMI (2018) Project Management Institute [online] available from [20 April 2020]

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
This article is from the free online

The Importance of Project Management in the Global Construction Industry

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