One of the major challenges in project management is meeting the objectives under varied conditions. Every project is subject to scope, time, and budget constraints (Golmohammadi, 2019). The secondary challenge is how to optimize the allocation of inputs needed to meet predefined objectives. The project manager, therefore, has to understand and adopt an appropriate project lifecycle management approach. The methodology chosen in the project life cycle is fundamental to project success (Rokooei, 2015). The project life cycle is a series of stages: initiation, planning, execution, and completion (Li, Tao, Cheng & Zhao, 2015). Appropriate management practices provide a structure in which stakeholders are consulted, and relevant information is acquired to make concrete decisions at key stages in the project cycle.
Theory of Constraints
The theory of constraints (TOC) shows how to manage operations and processes to maximize performance, as well as production. Maximizing the output rate ensures high profit because it helps the organizations make decisions on what to change in a multi-project environment. According to Barausse, Yunes, and Chamberlain (2016), institutions facing financial difficulties, poor management, and conflicts require proactive management interventions. Frefer, Mahmoud, Haleema, and Almamlook (2018) further state that the theory of constraints answers to change management and processes using case and effect modeling (Abdi, Taghipour & Khamooshi, 2018). This theory assists in identifying inefficiencies, their impact, and appropriate solutions. Its application in the project management lifecycle is instrumental in making the relevant adjustments to ensure project success.
Constraint theory is best applied in project planning problems where the project managers work on various projects, such as construction, software development, communication, and the maintenance industry. Costas et al. (2015) state that the theory of constraints can attain strong optimism when the capacity is set to equal demand and multitasking to avoid time wastage. Concerning this theory, financial cost, control, and budget should be maintained to ensure that the project execution is accomplished within the deadline to avoid overspending and project rescheduling. Proper budget management and control ensure maximum utilization of funds to complete the project within the specified time, budget, and scope.
The theory’s main idea is to show how well the organization manages its relationships with other stakeholders, such as customers, employees, financials, and sponsors. According to Miles (2017), stakeholders are people with a valid interest in participating in an organization or enterprise to make a profit. Powerful and important players are located where influence and urgency meet. The theory aims to enable the manager to identify the participants and strategically manage them (Jones, Wick, & Freeman, 2017). The theory emphasizes the significance of the relationship among parties during the project initiation stage and the project’s performance (Freeman, 2015). The participation of various stakeholders anchors the success or failure of a project.
The ultimate purpose of project management is to achieve uniformity in project success. In addition to technical skills, a project manager’s experience determines a project’s success (Serrador & Turner, 2015). Nevertheless, project management does not guarantee ultimate power to control duration, cost, or quality. This measure can be seen as self-created but rarely objective (Joeng & Turner, 2015). In some cases, projects lack these three constraints and are still successful. Project management accomplishment is measured during the project life cycle via classic performance measures.
Project management (PM) entails a set of skills, tools, and processes required to successfully undertake a project. It comprises specialists with enough knowledge and experience required to reduce the risk level within a project, hence the likelihood of success. Stakeholders utilize various tools to improve their chances of performance, including project templates, registers, planning programs, and modeling software. Project managers use diverse methods during the project life cycle to ensure project success.
Project Management Methodologies
Methodologies are an integral part of project management as they inform, as well as shape processes and activities. An enterprise may decide to use one or more methodologies, but it is a worthy practice to determine and use one method to manage projects easier (Andersen, 2016). The two most used approaches are agile methodology and waterfall methodologies (Keshta, 2019). It is the responsibility of a project manager to decide the methodology best suited for an undertaking. The corresponding decision is made during the initial stages of a project but has an immense impact on the overall assignment.
Waterfall methodology is a linear approach in a project life cycle where events follow each other systematically. In this methodology, every stage is completed before the beginning of the next one. Requirements must be reviewed and approved by customers before the design phase begins (Mahadevan, 2015). This methodology is critical to project success because stakeholders agree on what will be delivered in the early stages of project implementation. This aspect makes planning and execution straightforward, hence project success.
Agile methodology is an iterative stakeholders-based approach for project development. It is a practice that promotes continuous iteration of processes and activities, as well as pilot testing throughout the project. In agile methodology, both the development and testing are conducted concurrently. Agile approaches aim to satisfy clients’ needs, thus engaging them before proceeding to the subsequent stages. Agile methodology is critical in project success because the customer can review the work being delivered and make decisions and adjustments, which guarantees quality and relevant adjustments required to meet objectives.
Concept of Project Life Cycle Management
Project management follows a certain pattern or life cycle, consisting of several phases during which the deliverables are created and achieved. According to Zhang, Ren, Liu, Sakao, and Huisingh (2017), the project life cycle process may vary along the deliberate and emergent continuum. Project definition is done before the project begins, and the project manager must ensure objectives, goals, scope, budget, and risk issues are well defined. The information gathered is later communicated to all the stakeholders seeking their contribution and approval, as well as consideration of diverse opinions.
Project Initiation Phase
Although the project life cycle processes are different from one project to the other, the relevant stages ensure details and several independent steps. However, it is possible to determine a generic set of stages present in most project life cycles. The initiation phase plays a vital role in planning, executing, and determining the project’s results. The initiation phase aims at determining if sufficient demand exists and necessary background information for the project development (Wagner, 2017). The request is then followed by information gathering to understand the demand’s motivations and expectations. Information is gathered depending on the type of project, which can be achieved through site visits, interviews, observation, and relevant literature reviews.
During this phase, various stakeholders’ options are solicited; at the end, project planners decide, based on information gathered, whether or not to proceed with the project. The project initiation phase holds great value since it involves hiring a project team and setting project objectives and goals (Stark, 2016). Without an effective project team and clear project goals, it becomes difficult to perform the required duties throughout the project cycle.
The initiation phase is imperative because it gives a direction through which the implementation and planning stages are based. The project manager should understand the goals and ventures about how the goals should be realized. An effective initiation is one that is bound in time and cost. The backbone of any successful project is financial resources, as well as corresponding appropriate management ensures timely and successful delivery. Poor management of resources leads to project failure and results in substandard results.
Project Planning Phase
Project planning involves the development of tasks and schedules to maintain the systematic progress of the task accomplishment. This phase defines the project activities, end products, and activities, as well as the approaches to accomplish all the related tasks (Son, Lee & Kim, 2015). The purpose of project planning is to define each task, estimate the time and resources required, and provide the framework for management review and control (Pellerin, 2019). At this stage, deliberations for design, action planning, details for technical design, and implementation plan are finalized. It is a process that entails project management and professional discipline, considering time, costs, and resource constraints. According to Jeong (2015), overall planning, coordination, and control of a project from inception to completion aim to meet clients’ requirements by producing a functionally and financially viable project to be completed on time within the given budget to the required quality standard.
Project planning entails scheduling various activities and how they relate to each other. The activities comprise legal or regulatory requirements, procurement, and logistic processes that include seeking development projects and funding approvals (Joslin & Müller, 2015). The planning phase’s main aim is to optimize time, cost, and procurement of human resources within the legal, regulatory, and policy framework existing for each specific project. Fund management is a vital component in a corporate budget because it directly affects the liquidity and profitability, and growth of an enterprise.
The main aim of project fund management is to maintain the balance between the project funds, including inventory, cash receivables, and payables. In practice, this process has become one of the most important issues in organizations with many financial underpinnings struggling to identify basic project fund drivers and the appropriate level of funds to hold, avoid risks, and improve project performance. Planning is needed to identify the desired goals, reduce risks, and avoid missed deadlines. A good project will guarantee project success, while a fault in project planning will result in project failure. Project planning aims to define each task, estimate the time and resources required, and provide a project management framework.
Project Execution Phase
This phase involves implementing the plans created during the project planning phase. While each phase plan is being undertaken, a series of management processes are undertaken to manage and control the deliverables. Project execution includes both the pre-construction and construction activities. Pre-construction activities are process-based activities that need to be put into consideration before the project begins. They involve the procurement of supplies and financing, site preparation, and potentially the manufacture of construction supplies. Maintaining good communication is critical for the progress and evaluation of the project. The implementation also includes technical training and community education components. Execution of a project entails performing tasks and activities to produce project deliverables, which must be performed effectively and efficiently.
The project plan serves as the gateway and a common reference frame for all team members. The project plan is, therefore, a key pillar in project success. Theoretically, a plan must be performed precisely, whereas in reality no plan is ever done is such accuracy. During the project’s execution phase, the project team must regularly evaluate their progress in relation to the baseline project. By evaluating the project team’s progress against the baseline plan, the project team and stakeholders can gauge its progress. Moving from planning to execution can be challenging in successful project delivery. A project kick-off meeting has to be conducted, ensuring a smooth transition from the planning stage to the execution stage. The kick-off meeting is the milestone where all resources from the project need to begin execution.
At this level, each team member and the team leader must have copies project schedule. This is a vital stage as it helps the team lead to work within the allocated time frame. The schedule must identify each member’s specific roles, the start and completion dates. Execution is the longest phase due to the many processes and extensive tasks to achieve the project goals, objectives, and deliverables. It is the stage at which the derivable is physically presented to the customer for acceptance. This phase helps in managing time, cost, quality, and risk. It also assists in procurement, customer acceptance, and communication.
Project Closure Phase
The closure phase entails the submission of relevant documents and the delivery of products to the client. It is essentially the last phase of the project cycle. According to Keshata (2019), the closure stage entails project documentation, termination of suppliers’ contracts, the release of project resources, and communication regarding the closure to the stakeholders. The remaining step is to review the quality level of success and document lessons and learn both the challenges and new experiences to be used in future projects. Following customers’ acceptance of the project’s deliverables and achievement, the documentation regarding the closure, citing the success and end, has to be completed (Zohrehvandi, Khalilzadeh, Hajizadeh, & Cheraghi 2017). It involves handing overall project deliverables and project documentation to the customer, communicating project closure to all stakeholders and other interested parties.
A project closure report is documented and handed over to the customer and project sponsor for approval. The project manager ensures that the project closure phase documents all the relevant manuals and guidelines (Lee, Lee, Cha & Hyun, 2020). Project closure is significant as it’s the final stage in the project life cycle. A project’s success is shared in this phase, and recognition of stakeholders who made it possible for success is crucial.
Successful project completion is attributed to project life cycle management, whereas project failure is attributed to poor administration of the corresponding processes and tasks. The initiation phase is the first phase, where project goals and requirements are defined and started. This phase is critical in any project because it holds great value as it entails the hiring of a project team and developing relevant documentation. For any project to be successful, the relevant scopes must be realized; the project must be completed within the specified time and allocated budget. Most importantly, customer goals must be realized for the project to be termed as successful. A comprehensive planning phase is a major catalyst in every successful project.
During the execution phase, which is the third phase of the project life cycle, these factors can enhance stakeholders’ participation during the scope development. Conducting a feasibility study and enhancing decision-making, training, and pilot testing ensures that every stage of the project meets the specified objectives and ensures project success. Finally, documentation of project processes and tasks performed in the project life cycle completion stage is key in future projects. It guarantees success as most of the documentation will be used to plan, finance, and realize any potential risk. Proper project management is the key to successful project success, especially when the documents, stakeholders’ management, processes, and tasks are aligned to the completion of goals, objectives, and deliverables.
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