Linear Project Management Life Cycle Model

Instructor: Olga Bugajenko

Olga is a registered PRINCE2 Practitioner and has a master's degree in project management.

Which steps and in what order should a project manager take to successfully deliver project objectives? In this lesson, we will review each phase of the linear project management life cycle model.

What is a Linear Life Cycle?

Let's imagine you've set an objective for yourself — to get a driving licence. Unfortunately, it is impossible to achieve this objective by performing a single simple action, like going to a supermarket and purchasing a license. Instead, you have to complete series of interrelated activities - from research the driving schools in you area and their prices, allocating a budget, signing up, taking driving lessons, passing a written exam and finally passing a practical exam. Obtaining a driving license becomes a project. This lengthy process can also be broken down into shorter step-by-step phases to help you control your progress towards the goal.

Likewise, a project can be broken down into phases to help monitoring and control its performance. In cases where the phases follow one another, the resulting structure is called a linear project management life cycle model. A linear life cycle is best suited for projects that have well-defined objectives from the outset of the project. In a linear life cycle, any change to the project scope will result in the changes in project schedule and the project delivery date.

Life Cycle Phases

A linear project management life cycle model
Linear life cycle model

A linear life cycle project management model traditionally includes four main phases that occur one after the other:

Definition

This phase is also referred to as the concept. During this stage, the viability of the idea of the project is assessed to decide whether the project is worth proceeding with. The project manager is assigned to the project. The project objectives and customer expectations are clarified during this stage. The project sponsor must approve the decision to proceed with the project before the project can move into the next phase.

Planning

During this next phase, decisions about how the project will be delivered are made, a preferred solution is selected, and a project plan is created. Resources requirements are identified, and a project schedule and budget are created during this stage. Some project management methodologies, like Agile Product Management (APM), can refer to the second phase as definition. The project sponsor must approve the project plan before the project can move into the next phase.

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