PROJECT GOVERNANCE – PHASES AND LIFE CYCLE
PhD Student Werner Robbert Titus DEENEN
Radboud University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands
When talking about projects, the barrier is clear: successful and failed. Some
fail due to different reasons, but lack of good project and risk management
played a large part. Others succeed largely because of the rigorous and
disciplined application of good project practices. But both groups illustrate
many points that underline and demonstrate important concepts applicable to
current projects. Systematic application of good methods leads to successful
outcomes in projects of all types. All projects are fundamentally dependent on
people, and human beings are not very different today than we were
hundreds, or even thousands, of years ago. This paper uncovers main
elements in projects area such as the concepts and governance of projects,
with an underline of the main characteristics and the projects phases and life
cycle that erase the uncertainty that joins all the projects built at any time.
Keywords: project management, life cycle of a project
Introduction expenditure within which the
A project is a temporary endeavor deliverables are produced, to meet a
undertaken to create a unique product specified customer requirement.
or service. Have limited resources. At the start
It can also comprise an ambitious of a project an agreed amount of labour,
plan to define and constrain a future by equipment and materials is allocated to
limiting it to set goals and parameters. the project.
The planning, execution and monitoring Involve an element of risk. Projects
of major projects sometimes involves entail a level of uncertainty and
setting up a special temporary therefore carry business risk.
organization, consisting of a project Achieve beneficial change. The
team and one or more work teams. A purpose of a project is typically to
project usually needs resources. improve an organization through the
Projects are different from implementation of business change.
standard business operational activities The word project comes from the
as they have the following Latin word projectum from projicere, "to
characteristics. throw something forwards" which in turn
Are unique in nature. They do not comes from pro-, which denotes
involve repetitive processes. Every something that precedes the action of
project undertaken is different from the the next part of the word in time
last, whereas operational activities often (paralleling the Greek πρό) and jacere,
involve undertaking repetitive (identical) "to throw". The word "project" thus
processes. actually originally meant "something
Have a defined timescale. Projects that comes before anything else is
have a clearly specified start and end done". When the word was initially
date within which the deliverables must adopted, it referred to a plan of
be produced to meet a specified something, not to the act of actually
customer requirement. carrying this plan out. Something
Have an approved budget. performed in accordance with a project
Projects are allocated a level of financial was called an object. This use of
"project" changed in the 1950s when Project governance will outline the
several techniques for project relationships between all internal and
management were introduced: with this external groups involved in the project;
advent the word slightly changed describe the proper flow of information
meaning to cover both projects and regarding the project to all stakeholder;
objects. However in certain projects ensure the appropriate review of issues
there may still exist so called objects encountered within each project; ensure
and object leaders, reflecting the older that required approvals and direction for
use of the words. the project is obtained at each
One may also think in terms of appropriate stage of the project.
platonism, where ideas from the realm Important specific elements of
of ideals are projected onto the physical good project governance include: a
world. compelling business case, stating the
Particularly liked by Western objects of the project and specifying the
business, projects can subdivide into in-scope and out-of-scope aspects; a
sub-projects and spawn an industrial mechanism to assess the compliance of
sub-culture of project planning and the completed project to its original
project management, all oblivious to objectives; identifying all stakeholders
more holistic developments. with an interest in the project; a defined
Some feel this habit of short- method of communication to each
termism has permeated economic stakeholder; a set of business-level
planning and personal growth to the requirements as agreed by all
detriment of cyclical and multi-cultural stakeholders; an agreed specification
world views. Alternatives to project- for the project deliverables; the
centric planning include trend-oriented appointment of a project manager; clear
goal-setting and directional planning. assignment of project roles and
However, this view is contentious, responsibilitie; a current, published
and indeed industrial program project plan that spans all project stages
management and portfolio management from project initiation through
represent ways of administering a range development to the transition to
of projects to fulfill an over-arching operations; a system of accurate
strategy. upward status- and progress-reporting
Notable projects include: including time records; a central
Manhattan Project: Developed the first document repository for the project; a
nuclear weapon; Human Genome centrally-held glossary of project terms;
Project: To map the human genome; a process for the management and
Project Apollo: Landing a man on the resolution of issues that arise during the
moon. project; a process for the recording and
Once established as idea, the communication of risks identified during
project should be turned to life and put the project; a standard for quality review
into practice through different means of the key governance documents and
and steps, which all together form the of the project deliverables.
Project governance definition and characteristics
The term Project governance is Project Management is the skills,
used to describe the processes that tools and management processes
need to exist for a successful project. required to undertake a project
successfully. It incorporates:
A set of skills. Specialist Project management is inclusive,
knowledge, skills and experience are not exclusive.
required to reduce the level of risk Project management used to be
within a project and thereby enhance its the exclusive domain of a privileged few
likelihood of success. with the skills and experience to
A suite of tools. Various types of succeed. Today everyone is a project
tools are used by project managers to management consumer, and many are
improve their chances of success. assuming the role of project
Examples include document templates, management -- some by design, some
registers, planning software, modeling by accident. Project management is
software, audit checklists and review also the vehicle through which
forms. stakeholders are made aware of their
A series of processes. Various assignments, interfaces, and progress.
processes and techniques are required Project management must reach
to monitor and control time, cost, quality outside of an organization to vendors,
and scope on projects. Examples suppliers, designers, subcontractors, to
include time management, cost the client, and to the ever-curious
management, quality management, public.
change management, risk management Project management is peer-to-
and issue management. peer, not top down.
In today's fast-paced business Peer-to-peer project management
environment, the necessity of invites participation from the very
incorporating project management people assigned to do the work; after
practices into an organization's all, who knows better how long
operations has become increasingly something will take than the resources
apparent. Project Management's best- themselves. This peer-to-peer model
practices and methodologies allow removes the middleman from decision-
workers to stay on time, on budget, making. Project teams respond more
while wading through the sheer mass of quickly to self-identified project
data. Data that has increased opportunities and threats, thereby
exponentially as a result of the keeping the project on schedule.
information revolution in what is now Information rolls up so managers can
being called the Information Age. focus on resolving conflicting priorities
Project management has become a and resource bottlenecks.
standard practice rather than an Project management is
exception, and the incorporation of collaborative, not hierarchical.
these key principles is often seen as the Project-team collaboration is the
distinguishing factor in measuring most important factor in minimizing
success. project risks, maximizing project quality,
Amid these advances in project and eliminating wasteful efforts and
management skills and technology, unnecessary rework. Since the majority
however, the fundamental benefit of projects rely on teams that are not
remains the same. Project management co-located, project management creates
helps organizations respond faster, touch points for soliciting input and
accomplish its strategic goals, and consensus throughout the project
recognize return on investment. From lifecycle.
this point of view project management Rather than enforce a rigid,
bears some characteristics. hierarchical flow of information that
slows down decision-making, project
management enables internal and understand the health of their business
external project team members to and the ripple effects of their strategic
collaborate beyond simply coordinating project decisions. This enterprise-wide
calendars and circulating project-based insight can only come from maintaining
e-mail. Project management exposes all of the projects within a centralized
relevant project information to others system, with a company-wide project
involved in the project, using workflow structure -- the project management
rules and routings to ensure all have "chart of accounts" -- to facilitate this
access to information they need to cross-project analysis.
accomplish their work better. Project management is portfolio
Project management is management, not catch-all
cooperative, not adversarial. management.
One example of teams existing as Once a company has a handle on
virtual companies only to accomplish all of the projects that are underway or
the project is demonstrated in the in the pipeline, it is in a position to
construction industry. They each have decide effectively which of the many
their own profit motivations and may new project opportunities will
actually be competitors. This compliment the project portfolio. Project
cooperation is essential for getting the management enables companies to
project done better, faster, and cheaper. determine which projects can be
They must cooperate, not fight. They accomplished with the resources that
must learn to trust each other, sharing are available (or that can be hired),
information that once was "theirs and which will provide the greatest payback
theirs alone" in order to distribute the given the opportunity and the
burden of project complexity and risk. investment the company is willing to
Project management raises the make, and which combination of
visibility of project risks, issues, and projects best achieves their strategic
decisions for the mutual good of the objectives within the required
project and its participants. Designers, timeframe.
contractors and managers must work
together to do the right things correctly Projects phases and life
the first time on behalf of their customer, cycle
the owner. The ascendance of Because projects are unique
design/build for project delivery proves undertakings, they involve a degree of
this. uncertainty. Organizations performing
Project management is enterprise- projects will usually divide each project
wide, not standalone. into several project phases to improve
There isn’t a CEO who wouldn’t management control and provide for
like to know what projects are underway links to the ongoing operations of the
in the organization, or to be able to performing organization. Collectively,
evaluate the impacts of accelerating the project phases are known as the
one project ahead of another. No CFO project life cycle.
would be permitted to manage the Characteristics of Project Phases
business’ finances in the same Each project phase is marked by
standalone, disconnected, unrepeatable completion of one or more deliverables.
fashion that projects are often A deliverable is a tangible, verifiable
managed. work product such as a feasibility study,
With an enterprise-wide a detail design, or a working prototype.
perspective, executives can truly The deliverables, and hence the
phases, are part of a generally deliverables when the risks involved are
sequential logic designed to ensure deemed acceptable. This practice of
proper definition of the product of the overlapping phases is often called fast
The conclusion of a project phase Project life cycles generally define:
is generally marked by a review of both what technical work should be done in
key deliverables and project each phase (e.g., is the work of the
performance to date, to: a) determine if architect part of the definition phase or
the project should continue into its next part of the execution phase?); who
phase; b) detect and correct errors cost should be involved in each phase (e.g.,
effectively. implementers who need to be
These phase-end reviews are involved with requirements and design).
often called phase exits, stage gates, or Project life-cycle descriptions may
kill points. be very general or very detailed. Highly
Each project phase normally detailed descriptions may have
includes a set of defined deliverables numerous forms, charts, and checklists
designed to establish the desired level to provide structure and consistency.
of management control. The majority of Such detailed approaches are often
these items are related to the primary called project management
phase deliverable, and the phases methodologies.
typically take their names from these Most project life-cycle descriptions
items: requirements, design, build, test, share a number of common
startup, turnover, and others, as characteristics: cost and staffing levels
appropriate. are low at the start, higher toward the
end, and drop rapidly as the project
Characteristics of the Project Life draws to a conclusion; the probability of
Cycle successfully completing the project is
The project life cycle serves to lowest, and hence risk and uncertainty
define the beginning and the end of a are highest, at the start of the project.
project. The probability of successful completion
The project life-cycle definition will generally gets progressively higher as
also determine which transitional the project continues; the ability of the
actions at the beginning and the end of stakeholders to influence the final
the project are included and which are characteristics of the project's product
not. In this manner, the project life-cycle and the final cost of the project is
definition can be used to link the project highest at the start and
to the ongoing operations of the gets progressively lower as the project
performing organization. continues. A major contributor to this
The phase sequence defined by phenomenon is that the cost of changes
most project life cycles generally and error correction generally
involves some form of technology increases as the project continues.
transfer or handoff such as
requirements to design, construction to Conclusions
operations, or design to manufacturing. Successful projects don’t happen
Deliverables from the preceding phase by themselves. However, the success
are usually approved before work starts rate is bound to go up because project
on the next phase. However, a sub- management prevents companies from
sequent phase is sometimes begun inaugurating projects that are likely to
prior to approval of the previous phase fail or are poorly defined. It helps
increase speed of project delivery and desktop computer to market is but one
efficiency of project execution. Project phase or stage of the product life cycle.
management helps capturing best Although many project life cycles
practices so every project is more have similar phase names with similar
successful than the last one. It even deliverables required, few are identical.
bridges the gap between project Most have four or five phases, but some
participants so everyone is on the same have nine or more. Even within a single
page and working toward the same application area, there can be major
goals. variations; one organization's software
Also, care should be taken to development life cycle may have a
distinguish the project life cycle from the single design phase while another's has
product life cycle. For example, a separate phases for functional and
project undertaken to bring a new detail design.
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