Project Life Cycle Vs Project Management Life Cycle – Detailed Analysis

Difference between project life cycle and project management life cycle are often confusing. Many PMP aspirants have this confusion, while preparing for the PMP exam. So I thought of clarifying with a post on the differences between project life cycle and project management life cycle.

In a very simple language a life cycle means, everything that happens from introduction to the demise.

For example a product life cycle refers to everything that happens from introduction of the product till the demise of the product.

Similarly a project life cycle refers to everything that happens from initiation of the project to its closure.

Project Life Cycle Vs Project Management Life Cycle

Project Life Cycle Management

Essentially a project life cycle is the logical break down of what to do “to deliver” the output of the project.

For example in a software development project the project life cycle refers to the following stages…

Project Life Cycle

  • Analysis/Requirements analysis,
  • Design
  • Coding
  • Testing
  • Deployment and handover

Essentially these are different stages in the life of a software development project from start to end.

Though there are many types of project life cycles available, the following are some of the popular project life cycles in practice. They are

  • Predictive project life cycle
  • Iterative Project life cycle
  • Adaptive life cycle

If a project is divided into multiple phases, each phase goes through all the SDLC stages (Requirements, design, coding, testing, deployment and support), irrespective of project life cycle.

Project Life cycles

Predictive project life cycle

First of all, this is traditional project life cycle used commonly.

Project scope, time and cost are fixed and will be determined as early as possible in the life cycle of the project.

Projects divide into multiple phases. Each phase runs sequentially or in  a overlapping fashion based on the dependencies.

The current project life cycle stage must complete, before starting the next project life cycle stage.

Certainly changes are expensive in this project life cycle.

If the changes occur in the later stages, it will become even more expensive due to rework that will increase.

Product or the final result will deliver at the end of the project after completing all the phases.

Most importantly defects only found during testing phase or after producing the end result. Hence they may become expensive to the project.

Customer engagement in this case would be very limited. Especially, customer would be engaged more during requirements phase (in the beginning) and in the testing/acceptance phase (in the end).

This makes the predictive life cycle inefficient, as the projects and changes are becoming very dynamic in nature.

The best example of the predictive life cycle that we all have heard is water fall model.

Iterative Project life cycle

Unlike in the predictive life cycle, in the iterative project life cycle, projects run in multiple iterations.

The project divides into multiple phases. Every phase can be run sequentially or overlapping fashion based on the dependencies. Each phase can run through multiple iterations.

Each iteration goes through all software development life cycle (Requirements, design, coding, testing, deployment and support) phases.

Every iteration produce output for that iteration. In case, if there a change in any of the iteration, the change will move in to the next iteration depending on its priority.

Customer will receive the value early in the project, as the partial output is produced at the end of iteration. Customer will have more confidence by looking at the completed part of the output.

And if there are any gaps, customer can provide his feedback, which can be considered for any required changes in the subsequent iterations.

Customer involvement is more here, as every iteration goes through the entire SDLC.

Adaptive life cycle

Furthermore, Adaptive life cycle is also similar to iterative life cycle, except that

  • When you expect high number of changes, adaptive life cycle is best to use
  • And scope is not clear in the beginning of the project.

Compared to iterative, adaptive life cycle have more iterations.

In adaptive project life cycle, every iteration may produce a usable product (with partial features). So customer can also work in parallel to test and accept the work packages after every iteration, so as to save huge amount of project lead time.

So adaptive life cycle is more agile in nature and is more responsive to changes.

Changes handle naturally as they occur. Hence it is very less risky.

Customer involvement is there all the time, during the course of the complete project.

Here is the link to my recent blog post on 7 Important Project Management Terms Every PMP Aspirant Must Know.

Project management life cycle

The project management life cycle is about the stages in the life of project management for any project.

Project Management Life Cycle

Project management life cycle is what to do to manage the project work. Project management life cycle follows the project management process groups namely

  • Initiating
  • Planning
  • Executing
  • Monitoring and Controlling and
  • Closing

The project management life cycle also passes through a logical order of the process groups starting from initiating to closing.

Just in case, if you have not read, here is the link to my recent blog post on the key differences between work performance data Vs work performance information Vs work performance reports.

Conclusion

Though the terms both project life cycle and project management life cycle are confusing and some people misuse the terminology, the concepts are clear now.

Project life cycle is to deal with project methodology and stages.

Also we have seen what predictive, iterative and adaptive life cycles are.

Finally we understand that project management life cycle about the life cycle to manage the project work.

2 Responses to “Project Life Cycle Vs Project Management Life Cycle – Detailed Analysis”
  1. Bill Duncan July 10, 2017
    • Ravi July 11, 2017

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