49% of project managers say that inconsistency in the project management life cycle is their biggest hurdle. Which makes sense, given that 40% don’t even define their project management methodology before they start.

With robust project life cycle planning and cutting-edge project management software, you’ll see your project success rate soar. This article will walk you through the basics of a project management life cycle as well as give you tips on how to leverage project management software for flawless project execution.

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What is a project management life cycle?

A project management life cycle comprises the stages you move through as you create and execute a project. Starting with the project initiation phase, a project management life cycle moves through stages of planning, execution, control, and close.

A well-thought-out project management life cycle plan helps you understand which tasks need to be carried out, by whom, and at which stage. You’ll experience more streamlined project execution and overall task management when you define your project management life cycle. If you don’t establish a clear project life cycle, you’ll experience ‘scope creep’ — in which uncontrolled, unexpected variables creep into your project development and execution process.

This results in missed deadlines, soaring costs, and frustration.

Consider that half of all projects experience scope creep and over half of all projects run above budget.

To remedy this, many companies are using platforms like monday.com to put a cohesive project management system into place. As 69% of all projects that use project management software are completed within budget, it’s a top way to save money by organizing your project management life cycle.

For example, how Zippo saved $82,000 and increased projects by 87% with the help of monday.com — they worked to create templates for each phase of the project management life cycle:

Project tracker board from monday.com

And, because each phase can be assigned to multiple team members, inter-departmental cooperation has skyrocketed:

“The process has become so much more collaborative. Everyone can drag-and-drop different projects and organize them based on priority. We’re also able to organize the details of our projects in the way we want with the various column types and make updates in real-time.”

The 5 phases of your project management life cycle

All projects start with an idea that needs to be formed and executed in real-life. The phases that the project travels through keep it on course for success.

Here are the five phases of the project management life cycle that keep your projects on track.

1. Initiation

This is the stage where you identify a problem or a need that you may have a potential solution for. You are researching the project’s viability to find credibility in your solution.

You may need to justify the demand for your project to key decision makers at this point. The initiation stage of the project management life cycle is where you would gather evidence for why your project’s success would be valuable.

Initiation phase tasks include:

  • Creating a project viability report to decide if the project is feasible
  • Drafting project goals, metrics, and deliverables for project monitoring later
  • Pinpointing key stakeholders and decision-makers
  • Outlining potential resources, staff, and budgetary requirements

2. Planning

In the planning stage of the project life cycle, you’ll be mapping out each project objective and working out action steps to measure and achieve each project goal.

Planning phase tasks include:

  • Building a project team and collaborating on ideas for action
  • Drawing a time-bound roadmap for your project
  • Designing costs and resource budgets
  • Structuring workload and assigning tasks
  • Establishing workflow protocols for project management

3. Execution

At the implementation phase of the project management life cycle, you’ll be putting your project into action. You’ll be carrying out the steps in your plan to build your solution.

It’s important to keep a keen eye on your budget and workload at this stage to prevent project scope creep from taking over.

Execution phase tasks include:

  • Monitoring progress of action steps
  • Meeting with staff to track workload and establish accountability
  • Updating teams about ongoing progress and changes
  • Offering leadership input to teams to mediate friction and reduce bottlenecks

4. Controlling

As project manager, it’s your job to ensure that all aspects of the project are under control at all times. This means performing regular audits on all tasks being completed, to make sure nothing has gone awry.

This project monitoring stage happens in unison with the execution phase. As the project unfolds, you’ll need to keep the boat from rocking along the way.

Controlling phase tasks include:

  • Creating and sharing reports on task progress to key stakeholders
  • Checking in with staff to ensure everything is running smoothly
  • Running weekly meetings and communicating project news with your team
  • Touching base with clients to get feedback

5. Close

When you reach project closure, it’s critical to make sure everything in the project management life cycle is neatly tied up.

Equally, the closure phase gives you a chance to look back over the project, measure feedback, and report results.

Close phase tasks include:

  • Analyzing projects data and reporting results
  • Holding closing meetings with your team members and stakeholders
  • Getting feedback from clients on project performance
  • Completing and approving final project documentation

How to enhance your project management life cycle with software

For your project to be successful, you need your project management life cycle to be collaborative, transparent, and (just as importantly) make sense. With project management software, like monday, you’ll be able to streamline the project management life cycle so you fly through each phase without blowing the budget or missing your deadlines.

To choose the right project management platform for your business, ask yourself these 4 questions:

1. Can project management software help with proposals?

At the beginning of any project, you need to calculate the feasibility and work out the project scope, and then get buy-in from the right people. monday.com project management templates can help you explore ideas in an organized way and propose projects in a visually-appealing way to decision-makers.

For instance, our Project Proposal template enables you to map out the scope of the issue, the goals of your project, and the viability of your solution.

updates view problem statement board

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Fill in the template with your findings by adding notes and files, and assign tasks to your team to get answers to your questions. Collaborators can check updates and monitor the activity log while viewing progress in the status bar of each task.

With this template, it’s easy to collate all your proposal research into one centralized location.

2. How does high-leveling planning work with software?

In the planning stage of your project, it’s wise to think big.

For instance, with monday.com’s High-Level Project Plan template, you can get a broad overview of the project’s phases and the steps that need to be done at each stage.

High-Level Project Plan board from monday.com

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Assign team members steps in each phase so they can flesh out the tasks that need to be completed as you move through the project’s life cycle. Team members can update and track the progress of each step, communicating within the platform to keep relevant departments updated.

3. Can I build a project roadmap using project management software?

Planning the actions and milestones needed to reach your goals is vital to moving forward. But, it’s important that you define a time frame to achieve each step. Luckily, with monday.com it’s super simple to define and document your milestones, assign responsibilities to team members, and track progress along your roadmap.

Project management software, like monday.com, increases work visibility by 61% by enabling your team to see what’s happening in real-time and what they need to do next:

Project Roadmap from Monday.com

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Our Project Roadmap template aids you with crafting a comprehensive roadmap. Notice how you can assign dependency to the previous stage in the roadmap to track accountability and bottlenecks.

Assign the stages different priority or risk levels to tasks to help better assign resources to cope with fluctuating workloads demand.

4. Can teams collaborate on project management documentation?

monday.com makes it easier than ever to collaborate on documentation across teams. In fact, project management platforms like monday.com have been shown to increase collaboration by 51% (and we’ve definitely seen that with our own customers).

Using monday.com as an omnichannel solution for project documentation, you can collate all files into one neat place.

Project life cycle board from monday.com

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Organize your documentation into each phase of the project life cycle so you can better find files for future reference.

Upload files into the tasks and assign senior team members to approve all documentation. Update approval statuses so it’s immediately obvious which documents are still in the pipeline. Keeping all documentation in one place makes the closing phase of your project management life cycle far easier. You’ll be able to see what’s missing to chase documentation, and you’ll be able to refer back when replicating projects in the future.

Take control of the project life cycle

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to creating a robust project management life cycle.

Instead, build off an omnichannel project management platform like monday.com. Our templates and software offers the ideal solution for planning, executing, and monitoring the life cycle of any project of any size across all your departments.

Looking for instant ways to enhance your project management life cycle? Check out more project management templates, like our intuitive Project Management template, at monday.com.

project management plan board