Project Cycle Management (PCM) is the process of planning and managing projects by addressing their complexities through all phases to ensure proper formulation, implementation, and evaluation. It takes time to plan and execute a project due to the complexities that come into play. Without a Project Cycle Management framework, the quality of your project may deteriorate.
It helps you to maintain alignment with the project strategy and improve the quality of the project over time. Since it lasts the entirety of a project, PCM leverages the idea of a constant learning cycle and incorporates logical framework analysis to ensure all stakeholders get involved.
What does project cycle management mean?
PCM is a project management strategy that helps you structure and determine the phases of your project and how to implement all tasks in each stage. PCM guides the project management process since it’s among the critical project management methodologies.
All project phases are connected, and a weak link in the chain could jeopardize the entire project. In this regard, PCM is the high-level process of delivering a project successfully by helping you to define the project goals, plan its execution, and create a path to completion.
What are the phases of project cycle management?
PCM has four phases, which create the path that guides your project from the start to the end. These phases are initiation, planning, implementation, and conclusion, and here’s a detailed look at each:
1. Project initiation
Projects often start with a simple idea. In the project initiation phase, that simple idea gets nurtured and developed into the project scope and objectives. The project owners often identify a business need, opportunity, and problem before brainstorming ways to meet that need, seize the opportunity, or solve the problem.
Once you become a project manager, you need to figure out the project objectives, determine its feasibility, and pinpoint the possible deliverables for the project. The project initiation phase can also include:
- Conducting a feasibility study to pinpoint the underlying problem that spurred the project and whether the project can help deliver solutions to the problem.
- Identify the scope of the project by defining its breadth and depth.
- Pinpoint the deliverables (the services and products that need to be provided).
- Outlining project stakeholders—you need to pinpoint the parties that the project might affect and what their needs could be in the course of the project.
- Develop a business case by comparing the potential benefits and costs of undertaking the project. It helps you to determine its viability.
- Develop a statement of work by documenting the project’s scope, objectives, and deliverables. This is a working agreement between the project owners and those working on it.
2. Project planning
Once a project gets approved to proceed based on the initiation document or statement of work, you need to start planning the project. The project planning phase primarily entails developing an immersive design for the project and breaking it down into smaller tasks, creating the project implementation team, and preparing a schedule for undertaking the various project-related tasks. Critical processes in the project planning phase include:
- Determining the project timeline, including its stages, tasks, and possible project constraints.
- Developing workflows that help you visualize the project and enable implementors to understand their roles.
- Creating a budget to determine the project expenditure and how to maximize the investment.
- Assembling the requisite resources, including finances and human resources.
3. Project implementation
Project implementation is the first thing that comes to mind whenever project management gets mentioned. It’s easy to see why that’s the case because the execution phase is the longest and also where the hard work gets done. In this stage, the project team gets down to work.
The project implementation phase turns your project plan to work, and the project manager is the go-to person at this stage. Their task is keeping the work on track, managing timelines, organizing members, and ensuring they undertake the assigned tasks. Critical processes in the project implementation phase include:
- Organizing tasks and workflows by assigning the granular aspects of the project to relevant team members.
- Briefing the project implementors on their tasks and guiding how the tasks should be undertaken. Process-related training can also be organized if necessary.
- Communicating with the project owners and implementation team and ensuring timely updates get provided to project stakeholders.
- Monitoring and evaluation ensure that the project team meets its time and quality goals for the assigned tasks.
- Managing the budget, so the project is kept on track regarding resources and assets. Due to poor budget management, many projects fail, so it’s best to keep everything within the budget.
Since the implementation phase is the longest, it’s best to have the necessary resources at hand before you get started. Documenting the process also makes the process easier.
4. Project conclusion
After the project implementation team completes the work assigned, the project will need to be concluded. The closure phase involves providing the final deliverables, releasing project resources, and gauging the project’s success. However, it’s best to remember that the conclusion of a project isn’t the end.
Even with the major work done, the project manager will still have a lot on their plate. That includes assessing what worked or failed with the project. As a project manager, some of the project conclusion tasks you must perform include:
- Assessing project performance to gauge whether the project met its goals and whether you completed it on budget and on time. In this regard, it’s essential to have a checklist to determine whether you’ve undertaken all the project tasks.
- Analyzing the project team’s performance to determine how individual members undertook their tasks and their work quality.
- Documenting the project conclusion and ensuring that there are no loose ends or uncompleted aspects of the project.
- Undertaking post-implementation reviews and analysis of the project with an eye on similar projects you may handle in the future.
- Accounting for the budget and allocating any remaining resources to future projects.
The project conclusion phase helps you remain on task after all the work is done. It helps you to draw lessons from the just-concluded project and implement them for your next assignment.
What is the importance of project cycle management?
PCM plays a significant role in ensuring the delivery of your project on time and within budget. Its importance includes:
- ProvidingsStructure to the project
PCM helps you to break down your project into smaller tasks that are easier for your team to understand and perform. This goes a long way in enhancing the project’s overall efficiency.
- Enhances communication
By helping you structure and plan your project better, PCM enables you to implement clear communication with all project stakeholders. This will translate into better results.
- Progress monitoring
PCM helps you to evaluate all tasks related to the project so that you complete it with the assigned cost and resources. You’ll also avoid exceeding the budget, which hampers the completion of most projects.
- Ensures better project management
PCM has a significant importance when it comes to managing your project. It helps project managers to manage the project time, resources, costs, and the implementor’s efforts. By implementing PCM, each aspect of your project will be identified, planned, and undertaken as expected.
- Cost control
With the completion of all project-related tasks, PCM will help you control costs by ensuring that everything gets implemented as planned. Delays increase project costs, and PCM helps to streamline processes and cut delays.
What is the logical framework approach?
The Logical Framework Approach in project lifecycle management is the analytical and systematic process for outlining project objectives. It incorporates a comprehensive set of tools you can leverage in analyzing and resolving typical project management issues. The log frame summarizes your project objectives, how everything should be undertaken, project assumptions, and how its outcomes will be monitored and evaluated.
The Logical Framework Approach describes your project’s planning process and the critical planning instruments. The project management tool leverages data analytics to provide systematic, concise, and clear information about your project throughout its entirety. Simply put, PCM underscores the use of a logical framework approach to evaluate project problems and establish the most viable solution to ensure successful project implementation.
PCM is a critical cog in any project across all industries. If you’re looking to become a project manager, you’ll need to learn more about PCM. It helps you manage your projects, understand the project management process better, and equip yourself to manage even bigger projects in the future.
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