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The Project Life Cycle and Organization

This section contains a summary of the Project Life Cycle and organizational consideration which have a high probability to appear in the exam. We recommend that you read through them several times and try to memorize as much as possible.

If you are not studying for the exam, you might be interested to refresh your skills to get ready for your next project.

The Project Life Cycle
The Project Life Cycle Structure
Product versus Project Life Cycle Relationship
Project Phases
Project Governance Across The Life Cycle
Organizational Influence
The Organizational Culture and Styles
Organizational Structure
Organization Process Assets
Processes and Procedures
Corporate Knowledge Base

The Project Life Cycle

  • is a collection of generally sequential and sometimes overlapping project phases whose name and number are determined by the management and control needs of the organization or organizations involved in the project, the nature of the project itself, and its area of application.
  • can be documented with a methodology.
  • can be determined or shaped by the unique aspects of the organization, industry or technology employed.
  • provides the basic framework for managing the project.

The Project Life Cycle Structure

Projects vary in size and complexity. No matter how large or small, simple or complex, all projects can be mapped to the following life cycle structure:

  • Starting the project.
  • Organizing and preparing.
  • Carrying out the work.
  • Closing the project.

  • Cost and staffing level are low at the start, peak as the work is carried out, and drop rapidly as the project draws to a close.
  • Stakeholder influences, risk, and uncertainty are greatest at the start of the project. These factors decrease over the life of the project.
  • Ability to influence the final characteristics of the project's product, without significantly impacting cost, is highest at the start of the project and decreases as the project progresses toward completion.

Product versus Project Life Cycle Relationships

  • The product life cycle consists of generally sequential, non-overlapping product phases determined by the manufacturing and control need of the organization. The last product life cycle phase for a product is generally the product's retirement.
  • Project life cycle occur in one or more phases of a product life cycle.
  • Care should be taken to distinguish the project life cycle from the product life cycle.

Project Phases

  • are divisions within a project where extra control is needed to effectively manage the completion of a major deliverable.
  • are typically complete sequentially, but can overlap in some project situations.
  • the high level nature makes them an element of the project life cycle.

Note: A project phase is not a Project Management Group!

  • The phase structure allows the project to be segmented into logical subsets for ease of management planning, and control.
  • The number of phases, the need for phases, and the degree of control applied depend on the size, complexity, and potential impact of the project.
  • All phases have similar characteristics:
    • When phases are sequential, the close of a phase end with some form of transfer or handoff of the work product produced as the phase deliverable. These points are referred to as phase exit, milestones, phase gates, decision gates, stage gates, or kill points.
    • The work has a distinct focus that differs from any other phase.
    • The primary deliverable or objective of the phase requires an extra degree of control to be successfully achieved.

Project Governance Across The Life Cycle

  • provides a comprehensive, consistent method of controlling the project and ensuring its success.
  • should be described in the project management plan.
  • must fit with the larger context of the program or organization sponsoring it.

The project management and the project team need to determine the most appropriate method of carrying out the project. The phase structure provides a formal basis for control. Each phase is formally initiated to specify what is allowed and expected for the phase.

A project plan is generally concluded and formally closed with a review of the deliverables to determine completeness and acceptance.

A review of both key deliverables and project performance to date to determine if the project should continue into the next phase and detect and correct errors effectively should be regarded as good practice.


Stakeholders are persons or organizations, who are actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by the performance or completion of the project. The project manager must manage the influence of the stakeholders in relation to the project requirements to ensure a successful outcomes. A project can be perceived as having both positive and negative results by the stakeholders.

Potential project stakeholders:

  • Customers/users
  • Sponsor
  • Portfolio managers/portfolio review board
  • Program managers
  • Project management office
  • Project managers
  • Project team
  • Functional managers
  • Operations management
  • Sellers/business partners

Organizational Influence

Culture and styles may have a strong influence on a project's ability to meet its objectives.

Organizational culture may include:

  • Shared visions, values, norms, beliefs, and expectations.
  • Policies, methods, and procedures.
  • View of authority relationships.
  • Work ethic and work hours.

Organizational culture is an enterprise environmental factor and input to project management processes. The project manager should understand the different organizational styles that may affect the project.

The Organizational Cultures and Styles

Most organizations have developed unique cultures that manifest in numerous ways like shared visions, values, norms, beliefs, and expectations. Also policies, methods, and procedures influence the organization, as well as view of authority relationships, work ethics, and work hours.

The organizational culture is an enterprise environmental factor and a project manager should understand the different organizational styles and cultures that may affect the project.

Organizational Structure

Organizational structure is an enterprise environmental factor which can affect the availability of resources and influence how projects are conducted. Organizational structures range from functional to projectized, with a variety of matrix structures between them.


The organizational structure is an enterprise environmental factor which can affect the availability of resources and influence how projects are concluded.

  • is a hierarchy where each employee has one clear superior.
  • Staff members are grouped by specialty.
  • Each department will do its project work independent of other departments.

Matrix organization

  • Weak matrices: maintain many of the characteristics of a functional organization. The project
    manager is more of a coordinator than a true project manager.
  • Balanced matrices: recognizes the need for a project manager. The project manager does not have full authority over the project and project funding.
  • Strong matrices: have many of the characteristics of the projectized organization. The project
    manager can be full-time with considerable authority and a full-time project team.


  • Team members are often co-located.
  • Most organization's resources are involved in project work.
  • Project managers have a great deal of independence and authority.

Organizational Process Assets

Organizational process assets include any or all process related assets, from any or all the organizations involved in the project can be used to influence the project's success. These process assets include formal and informal plans, policies, procedures, and guidelines. Also included are the organization's knowledge bases such as lessons learned and historical information.

Processes and Procedures

  • Organizational standard processes such as standards, policies, standard product and project life cycles, and quality policies and procedures.
  • Standardized guidelines, work instructions, proposal evaluation criteria, and performance measurement criteria.
  • Templates.
  • Guidelines and criteria for tailoring the organization's set of standard processes to satisfy the specific needs of the project.
  • Organization communication requirements.
  • Project closure guidelines or requirements.
  • Financial controls procedures.
  • Issue and defect management procedures defining issue and defect controls, issue and defect
    identification and resolution, and action item tracking.
  • Change and control procedures.
  • Risk and control procedures.
  • Procedures for prioritizing, approving, and issuing work authorization.

Corporate Knowledge Base

  • Process measurement databases.
  • Project files.
  • Historical information and lessons learned knowledge bases.
  • Issue and defect management databases.
  • Configuration management knowledge bases.
  • Financial databases.

Source: PMBOK® - PMI Institute

Note: This page contains a summary which highlights the Life Cycle and Organization essentials!

We recommend to read 'Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®): Chapter 2 - Project Life Cycle and Organization'!