What Is the Project Management Life Cycle, and How Can it Be Improved?

Written By: Jessica Hawley
April 20, 2018
7 min read

Nearly every project manager follows the steps of the project management life cycle, which is a process that defines each stage of a project from initiation to completion. The project management life cycle forms a set of guidelines for targeted and strategic project management. Leaders in the field have researched this concept and found that following these steps is crucial to project success. Teams can use this cycle as a standard to guide their progress.

What Are the Project Management Steps?

The project management steps usually involve four to five phases:

  1. The initiation/conceptualization phase
  2. The planning phase
  3. The execution phase
  4. Monitoring and controlling (optional)
  5. The closure/termination phase

A Closer Look at Project Management Stages

Those who are experienced with project management know that following these steps will organize the finer details of a project and divide efforts into logical parts. Each stage of the life cycle outlines what steps should be taken before moving on to the next stage.

Step 1: Project Initiation

During this first stage of the cycle, the project’s value is assessed as well as how practical it is to complete it with the resources given. Project managers will usually use evaluation tools to make sure that a project is not only possible but will have enough value. Creating a business case document will estimate the benefits of completing the project and prove if it’s worth pursuing. While a feasibility study will estimate the timeline and costs and evaluate the goals for the project. By comparing all of these results, a team can decide whether they should move on to the next step in the cycle. If a project is deemed impossible or not profitable, the project management life cycle ends at this step.

Step 2: Project Planning

Once the project has been given the go-ahead, the team begins planning in order to complete the project in a timely way while staying within budget. The project plan and resource plan should contain needed resources and ways to acquire them, ways to communicate with stakeholders, and plans for overcoming obstacles. The plan will give everyone working on the project direction and help them to understand both the broad picture of the project as well as the finer details.

Step 3: Project Execution

All of the hard work that went into the planning stage is now brought to fruition. The goal of this phase is to produce deliverables that will satisfy whoever receives them. In this stage, the team leaders keep everyone on task and focused on the timeline and goals. A successful execution depends on the thoroughness of the planning stage.

Step 4: Monitoring and Control

This step is not included in every project management life cycle, but nevertheless, these ideas are always incorporated along the way, often in the execution stage. As the plan is executed, it’s important to monitor progress to make sure that the project is running smoothly and goals are being met.

Step 5: Closure

Once a finished product has been delivered, the team can close out the project. All stakeholders should be notified of completion during this step, and the project should be evaluated so the team can learn and grow from successes and failures.

Each stage can be broken down into some common tasks to delegate to each cycle.


  • Create a business case
  • Conduct a feasibility study
  • Create a project charter
  • Choose the project team
  • Appoint a project team leader


  • Design the project plan
  • Make a resource plan
  • Create a financial plan
  • Form a risk plan
  • Create an acceptance plan
  • Make a communications plan
  • Form a procurement plan
  • Contract resource suppliers


  • Create and organize project tasks
  • Disseminate project information and tasks amongst colleagues
  • Produce the deliverables

Monitoring and Control:

when applicable and running concurrently with the Execution phase

  • Monitor and control issues of scope, time, cost, and risk
  • Assess quality at several key milestones
  • Manage stakeholder communications and expectations


  • Deliver the final product
  • Perform project closure tasks
  • Review the completed project

Setting Project Management Milestones

During the execution or monitoring stage, many teams might choose to set project management milestones to gauge their progress. The milestones should be charted out as a sequence of events that will mark the progress toward project completion.

Milestones will indicate to the team that the project is moving forward and can be helpful to team members who aren’t familiar with the tasks involved. If you were building a house, for instance, you could set the finish date of the floors, roof, and window installations as milestones. You can think of planning your project milestones in much the same way. Take a look at what was decided in the planning stage and set milestones based on the project plan. You may even want to incorporate the selection of milestones into the planning phase. Putting these important milestones into the project’s schedule can set clear expectations for everyone involved in the project as well as for key stakeholders.

The Benefits of Using the Project Management Life Cycle

There are many ways that following the life cycle and using it to create a project management to-do list can help your business to thrive.

  1. The project management life cycle gives structure to a project from start to finish and allows everyone involved to monitor progress. It also clearly defines what tasks must be accomplished along with who will accomplish them and how.
  2. Using the life cycle defines roles within the project and makes it easier for everyone to understand their duties. This can also reduce wasted resources by making sure that everything required is available every step of the way.
  3. Progress can be directly linked and monitored at each phase until completion. The life cycle allows each step to be broken down while still maintaining a picture of the end product.
  4. Using the life cycle will allow you to identify areas that need improvement and more attention in order to meet goals and milestones on time.
  5. The life cycle helps users determine when evaluation and reviews should take place.

How Quickbase Can Help You With the Project Management Life Cycle

Quickbase provides a powerful, adaptable app development solution that can help you guide your project through the life cycle. With our easy-to-use app building software, you can design a project management app that is tailored to the specific needs of your business.

Quickbase makes it simple to design a powerful app custom-made for your goals and your project management plan of action. Quickbase helps streamline business management processes by eliminating the need for spreadsheets and other cumbersome processes. An entire team can monitor and take part in the project management life cycle by using our cloud-based software that allows for easy and quick data-sharing and heightened collaboration.

When working with Quickbase, users won’t have to design a project management plan to fit the system. Quickbase software is adaptable to your needs and customizable even without professional developer support. We’ve put the power into the hands of the users with our simple point-and-click design that will allow you to create forms, reports, tables, dashboards, and other features. This low-code technology is invaluable for saving time and money. IT departments can focus on higher-level tasks, and your team members will have the tools to implement new ideas and manage processes as efficiently as possible. When those most closely involved with the process can take the reins, incredible innovations are possible and company resources are conserved.

Try Quickbase for a 30-day trial to discover what it can do for your business. Whether you need apps to streamline project management, sales and management, customer service, training, or human resources tasks, Quickbase has an elegant and innovative solution that will help your business to thrive.

Written By: Jessica Hawley
Jessica Hawley is a marketing manager at Quickbase, focused on SEO, content and social media.