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Broad Contents

Life Cycle Phases

Responsibilities of Key Players

Problems in Objective Setting

20.1 Life-Cycle Phases:

To describe it further, project planning takes place at two levels. The first level is the corporate

cultural approach; the second method is the individual's approach. The corporate cultural

approach breaks the project down into life-cycle phases, such as those shown in Table 20.1. The

life-cycle phase approach is not an attempt to put handcuffs on the project manager but to

provide a methodology for uniformity in project planning. Many companies, including

government agencies, prepare checklists of activities that should be considered in each phase.

These checklists are for consistency in planning. The project manager can still exercise his own

planning initiatives within each phase.

Life-Cycle Phase Definitions

In addition to this, the second benefit of life-cycle phases is control. At the end of each phase

there is a meeting between the project manager, sponsor, senior management, and even the

customer, to assess the accomplishments of this life-cycle phase and to get approval for the next

phase. These meetings are often called critical design reviews, "on-off ramps," and "gates." In

some companies, these meetings are used to firm up budgets and schedules for the follow-on

phases. In addition to monetary considerations, life-cycle phases can be used for manpower

deployment and equipment/facility utilization. Some companies go so far as to prepare project

management policy and procedure manuals where all information is subdivided according to

life-cycle phasing. Life-cycle phase decision points eliminate the problem where project

managers do not ask for phase funding, but rather ask for funds for the whole project before the

true scope of the project is known. Several companies have even gone so far as to identify the

types of decisions that can be made at each end-of-phase review meeting. They include:

  • Proceed with the next phase based on an approved funding level
  • Proceed to the next phase but with a new or modified set of objectives
  • • Postpone approval to proceed based on a need for additional information
  • • Terminate project

For instance, consider a company that utilizes the following life-cycle phases:

  • Conceptualization
  • Feasibility
  • Preliminary planning
  • Detail planning
  • Execution
  • Testing and commissioning

As the name suggests, the conceptualization phase includes brainstorming and common sense

and involves two critical factors:

1. Identify and define the problem, and

2. Identify and define potential solutions

All ideas are recorded and none are discarded in a brainstorming session. The brainstorming

session works best if there is no formal authority present and if the time duration is no more

than thirty to sixty minutes. Sessions over sixty minutes in length will produce ideas that may

begin to resemble science fiction.

The second phase, that is the feasibility study phase, considers the technical aspects of the

conceptual alternatives and provides a firmer basis on which to decide whether to undertake the


Note that the purpose of the feasibility phase is to:

  • Plan the project development and implementation activities.
  • Estimate the probable elapsed time, staffing, and equipment requirements.
  • Identify the probable costs and consequences of investing in the new project.

If practical, the feasibility study results should evaluate the alternative conceptual solutions

along with associated benefits and costs. The objective of this step is to provide management

with the predictable results of implementing a specific project and to provide generalized

project requirements. This, in the form of a feasibility study report, is used as the basis on which

to decide whether to proceed with the costly requirements, development, and implementation


Moving ahead with the life-cycle, the third life-cycle phase is either preliminary planning or

''defining the requirements." This is the phase where the effort is officially defined as a project.

In this phase, we should consider the following:

  • General scope of the work
  • Objectives and related background
  • Contractor's tasks
  • Contractor end-item performance requirements
  • Reference to related studies, documentation, and specifications
  • Data items (documentation)
  • Support equipment for contract end-item
  • Customer-furnished property, facilities, equipment, and services
  • Customer-furnished documentation
  • Schedule of performance
  • Exhibits, attachments, and appendices

20.2 Responsibilities of Key Players:

We know that planning simply does not happen by itself. Companies that have histories of

successful plans also have employees who fully understand their roles in the planning process. Good

up-front planning may not eliminate the need for changes, but may reduce the number of changes

required. The responsibilities of the major players are as follows:

1. Project manager will define:

  • Goals and objectives
  • Major milestones
  • Requirements
  • Ground rules and assumptions
  • Time, cost, and performance constraints
  • Operating procedures
  • Administrative policy
  • Reporting requirements

2. Line manager will define:

  • Detailed task descriptions to implement objectives, requirements, and milestones
  • Detailed schedules and manpower allocations to support budget and schedule
  • Identification of areas of risk, uncertainty, and conflict

3. Senior management (project sponsor) will:

  • Act as the negotiator for disagreements between project and line management
  • Provide clarification of critical issues
  • Provide communication link with customer's senior management

Remember that successful planning requires that project, line, and senior management are in

agreement with the plan.

20.3 Problems in Objective Setting:

It is not possible to satisfy all objectives every time. At this point, management must prioritize

the objectives as to which are strategic and which are not. Typical problems with developing

objectives include:

  • Project objectives/goals are not agreeable to all parties.
  • Project objectives are too rigid to accommodate changing
  • Insufficient time exists to define objectives well.
  • Objectives are not adequately quantified.
  • Objectives are not documented well enough.
  • Efforts of client and project personnel are not coordinated.
  • Personnel turnover is high.

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