Techniques, methods and tools used in the project life cycle

Introduction
A Project is the combination of organizational resources pulled together to create something that did not previously exist and that will provide a performance capability in the design and execution of organizational strategies (Cleland and Ireland, 2006). Projects have a distinct life cycle, starting with an idea and progressing through design, engineering and manufacturing or construction through use by a project owner. For a project to be successful there are main things which are to be considered always, like the cost of the whole project, time that it’s going to take for it to be complete, the technical performance capability that it’s going to provide and be able to match the results with the design and execution of organizational strategies. This whole process in the other name it’s called Project Management.
Project management is an important management tool to implement strategy and achieve an organization’s strategic goals. Organizations are using projects to adapt to changes in the competitive environment including increasing cost pressures, scarce available resources, global competition, new technologies and a race to get products to customers first (Hyvari, 2006). Projects deliver the most benefit when they are directly linked to corporate strategy (Crawford, 2006, Srivannaboon, 2006).

Also, Project Management is a continuing process of controlling the development of a project from initial planning, to monitoring progress and finally to seeing the successful completion of the project. Every program, project, or product has certain phases of development known as life cycle phases. A clear understanding of these phases permits managers and executives to better control resources to achieve organizational goals (Kerzner, 2003). As a result, the project manager must learn to deal with a wide range of problems and opportunities, each in a different stage of evolution and each having different relationships with the evolving project (Cleland and Ireland, 2002).
In this assignment, I’m going to discuss all the activities that are required and analyse some of the techniques, methods and tools used on the project life cycle. Also, I will discuss the skills and competences that project managers’ needs to possess. At the end, I will talk about the roles played by the stakeholders and the contribution of the computer packages towards the successful running of a major project.
a)
The Project Life Cycle refers to a logical sequence of activities to accomplish the project’s goals or objectives. Regardless of scope or complexity, any project goes through a series of stages during its life. There is first an Initiation or Birth phase, in which the outputs and critical success factors are defined, followed by a Planning phase, characterized by breaking down the project into smaller parts/tasks, an Execution phase, in which the project plan is executed, and lastly a Closure or Exit phase, that marks the completion of the project. Project activities must be grouped into phases because by doing so, the project manager and the core team can efficiently plan and organize resources for each activity, and also objectively measure achievement of goals and justify their decisions to move ahead, correct, or terminate. It is of great importance to organize project phases into industry-specific project cycles. WhyNot only because each industry sector involves specific requirements, tasks, and procedures when it comes to projects, but also because different industry sectors have different needs for life cycle management methodology. And paying close attention to such details is the difference between doing things well and excelling as project managers.
Diverse project management tools and methodologies prevail in the different project cycle phases. Let’s take a closer look at what’s important in each one of these stages:
1) Initiation
In this first stage, the scope of the project is defined along with the approach to be taken to deliver the desired outputs. The project manager is appointed and in turn, he selects the team members based on their skills and experience. The most common tools or methodologies used in the initiation stage are Project Charter, Business Plan, Project Framework (or Overview), Business Case Justification, and Milestones Reviews.
2) Planning
The second phase should include a detailed identification and assignment of each task until the end of the project. It should also include a risk analysis and a definition of a criteria for the successful completion of each deliverable. The governance process is defined, stake holders identified and reporting frequency and channels agreed. The most common tools or methodologies used in the planning stage are Business Plan and Milestones Reviews.
3) Execution and controlling
The most important issue in this phase is to ensure project activities are properly executed and controlled. During the execution phase, the planned solution is implemented to solve the problem specified in the project’s requirements. In product and system development, a design resulting in a specific set of product requirements is created. This convergence is measured by prototypes, testing, and reviews. As the execution phase progresses, groups across the organization become more deeply involved in planning for the final testing, production, and support. The most common tools or methodologies used in the execution phase are an update of Risk Analysis and Score Cards, in addition to Business Plan and Milestones Reviews.
4) Closure
In this last stage, the project manager must ensure that the project is brought to its proper completion. The closure phase is characterized by a written formal project review report containing the following components: a formal acceptance of the final product by the client, Weighted Critical Measurements (matching the initial requirements specified by the client with the final delivered product), rewarding the team, a list of lessons learned, releasing project resources, and a formal project closure notification to higher management. No special tool or methodology is needed during the closure phase.
Reference List
Kerzner, H. (2003). Project management: a systems approach to planning, scheduling, and controlling (8th ed.). New Jersey: John wiley & Sons Inc.
Cleland, D.I, Ireland, L.R. (2006). Project Management: Strategic Design and Implementation (5th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 26
Cleland, D.I, Ireland, L.R. (2002). Project Management: Strategic Design and Implementation (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 32
Crawford, L., Hobbs, B. & Turner, J.R. (2006), Aligning capability with strategy: Categorizing projects to do the right projects and to do them right, Project Management Journal; Jun. 37, 2; ABI/INFORM Global, pp.38-50
Hyvari, I. (2006), Project management effectiveness in project oriented business organisations, International Journal of Project Management, 24 pp. 216-225
Srivannaboon, S. (2006), Linking project management with business strategy, Project Management Journal, Dec; 37, 5; ABI/Inform Global, pp.88-96

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