Introduction to Project Management Life Cycle and Certifications

Introduction to Project Management Life Cycle and Certifications

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Updated on Dec 30, 2022 00:13 IST

This article is intended to provide an overview of what is Project Management, its importance, how it is embedded in organizations along with a focus on Core themes/topics in Project Management.


There’s an old wise saying, “Rome was not built in a day,” which implies, “You can’t learn to cycle in a single session or any theoretical class,” and it also applies to Project Management. Unlike other fields, you can’t find your way to triumph by making faults; experimentation and/or testing will not get you anywhere. Everything in Project Management is realistic & practical. You need to abide stringently by the principles to be successful in Project Management, and that’s where this guide will come in handy.

This guide is useful for novices and transitional or experienced Project Managers to comprehend the fundamentals of the Project Management process, Project Management Methodologies.

An Introduction

Project Management is one of the key features of business

Each & every Change, enhancement, modification, addition, or makeover (recently, Digital Transformation) that your business or organization goes through necessitates many, if not all, aspects of Project Management. It’s a system governed by a comprehensive plan and implemented by a team for the purposes of achieving a business or organizational goal.

To understand in a better way, let’s consider your favorite car. Project Management is just like an engine where multiple parts carry out activities. All these activities are time bound & need to be executed within a specific timeframe to run the engine accurately, and eventually, you can drive your car effortlessly. 

Project management is an art as well as a science.

The function of the engine remains unchanged whether it is used for your favorite car, scooter, bike, truck, bus, or any other vehicle; however, the design & configuration of an engine change to accommodate the type of vehicle. There cannot be the same engine pertinent to all types of vehicles. 

Similarly, each project is different and reflects a distinct set of Project Management challenges. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for Project Management as well which is used across different business organizations, industries, and sectors with their own distinctive way of working (WoW)


Before we understand Project Management in-depth, we need to define what is a “project”. You must have been assigned multiple “projects” in school/colleges and/or on your previous/current job, but what is the globally accepted, standard definition for a ‘Project.’

As per Project Management Institute (PMI), a “project” is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result.

By looking at this definition meticulously, there are two key aspects to a ‘project’ First; the word ‘temporary’ implies a Project has a limited life (specific beginning & end) and another aspect is the purpose of a project is to create a unique Product, Service or Result. This means a project will be initiated to achieve a specific objective or goal that is typically outside the scope of typical day-to-day business operations. 

A project is different from a process & not routine work. Day-to-day operations or maintenance is not considered a project because it does not have a definitive start and end.

Projects are managed while processes are controlled/improved.

Let’s understand this concept by introducing our favorite car example. The production of your car is considered a process as the assembly line or a set of activities (process) to manufacture that car is already defined, and regular operational tasks are executed for the same. However, manufacturing the first car is a Project & not a process. Let’s explore a few more examples. Training on Project Management essence. For the trainer, it is a process; however, for a trainee, it will be a Project. Recording attendance online at the office is a classic example of a Process.

A Project is a work with a specific beginning and an end, which is executed once, whereas a Process is a repetitive work (regular operations)

To initiate a project, you need a Sponsor (someone who provides the funding for that project). Most projects are initiated to take advantage of business / Market opportunities (First mover strategy), Regulatory, Compliance, or Legal requirement. Even the projects are triggered to enhance the existing process and improvement plan for sustainable growth in VUCA (Volatile, Uncertainty, Complexity & Ambiguity) environment.

As a result of the completion of projects, teams gain valuable experience which could be useful for the next projects (popularly known as lessons learned)

A project Charter is a statement of the project’s scope, objectives, and participants. It provides a preliminary delineation of roles and responsibilities, outlines the project objectives, identifies the main stakeholders, and defines the project manager’s authority. It is the most important document for managing a project. Remember your favorite car; you can drive freely as long as you have a driving license for such type of car. We can consider the Project Charter as the license to manage a Project.  

Project Management

Project management is navigating a project from the start through its entire lifecycle. It is the practice of applying knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to complete a project as per the specific requirements. It comes down to identifying the problem, creating a plan to solve it, and then executing it until the problem has been resolved. This sounds very straightforward; however, a lot goes into it at every stage of the project.

The main objective of project management is to complete a project within the set time and budget goals without compromising quality. A project management life cycle starts when the project is initiated and ends when the project is either completed or terminated in one way or another.


Most studies have shown that Pareto’s principle (80:20 rule) is applicable for Project Management as well. Only around 20-25% of the projects are successful. Just 60% of the organizations realize the actual significance of Project Management which provides a coherent vision to the teams for stimulating productivity and enhanced results.

Project Lifecycle

Regardless of what type of project you’re planning, every project goes through the same phases. Although each project will require unique processes and tasks, they all follow a similar structure. There’s always a beginning, middle, and end. This is called the Project Lifecycle.

Project management phases are different tasks and skill-sets essential for successful projects. Typically, there are five stages/phases aligned with Project Management, namely:

  • Initiation: The purpose of this phase is to define the project
  • Planning: This phase includes developing a roadmap
  • Executing & Monitoring: In this stage, the project team builds the code, creating deliverables.
  • Monitoring & Control: Project managers monitor and measure project performance to ensure it stays on track.
  • Close: The project is completed after documenting the lessons learned and transferred to another team who will maintain it as a process.

Let’s explore a little more about these five major phases of Project Management which are mutually dependent on each other.

Initiation Phase

The initiation phase is the first phase of the project management life cycle. This phase aims to define the project, develop a business case for it, and get it approved. By the end of this phase, the project manager should have a high-level understanding of the project’s purpose, goals, requirements, related key stakeholders and associated risks.

Planning Phase

The planning phase is vital and provides the project roadmap to the entire team. All the relevant details (Project Plan, Resource Plan, Contingency Plans & Workflows along with other management plans) and goals are reviewed to meet the requirements as per the SOW (Statement of Work) and finalize the below activities (not limited to below list) like :

  • Establish goals and deliverables for the Project
  • Identify your team members and assign relevant tasks
  • Define which metrics will be used to measure the success criteria
  • Communication Plan within team & key stakeholder

Execution Phase

This phase typically begins with a project kickoff meeting where the project manager outlines the project objectives (Project background, Scope, Plan, Communication & success factor) to all stakeholders involved. Deliverables are built to make sure the project is meeting requirements. This is where most of the time, budget, and resources are pulled into the project. 

Monitoring & Control Phase

This phase occurs in progression with the Execution phase. As the project advances, the project manager must ensure all moving parts (like engine parts of our favorite car) are seamlessly headed in the right direction. It may happen here if any fine-tuning to the project plan is required due to unanticipated conditions. At the end of this phase, all the agreed project deliverables should be completed.

Closure Phase

The closing phase is a critical step in the project management life cycle. It signals the official end of the project. Document the Lessons learned and organized all the project-related documentation in a centralized location. Communicate the project’s success to all the relevant stakeholders, celebrate project completion, and acknowledge team members as required.

The project life cycle describes what is needed to complete the work, while the project management process describes what is needed to manage the project.

Project Management Process Deming Cycle
Initiation  Start
Planning Plan
Execution Do
Monitoring & Control Check & Act
Closure End

The Deming cycle emphasizes making changes in small increments before making big changes. This looks surreptitiously similar to Project Management processes but is different. One is a Project related activity and the other is a Process related activity.

Project Manager

The ability to deliver projects on schedule, on budget, and aligned with business goals is key to gaining an edge in today’s highly competitive global business (VUCA) environment. This is where project managers come in. Project managers have an incredibly complex assignment, one that blends organizational skills, an analytical mind, and adept interpersonal abilities.

In short, project managers are responsible for the planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and completion of projects which includes identifying risks, building and training the teams, defining the Tasks & assigning them, managing Budgets and timelines while engaging with key stakeholders across the lifecycle.

Project managers help organizations to become more efficient by improving collaboration across and within teams. They have a more predictable project planning and execution process, adhere to project budgets, schedules, and scope guidelines. They resolve the project roadblocks and escalate issues quickly and as required. Identify and plan the risks and even help to terminate the projects that do not have relevant business value.

Knowledge Areas

The PMI, in its Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), divides project management into 10 developed areas. These are the core technical subject areas that are aligned with the five phases of Project Management.

  • Integration management
  • Scope management
  • Time management
  • Cost management
  • Quality management
  • Human Resource management
  • Communication management
  • Risk management
  • Procurement management
  • Stakeholder management

Project Manager Skills

Project management is one of the most desired qualities of the current business environment. Project managers are typically responsible for overseeing the entire project lifecycle and performing key tasks that can make the project successful. The way projects are handled is swiftly evolving & we must learn the below skills to ensure project success. Apart from the apparent requirement of the relevant technical skills, Project Managers are expected to have a blend of project management skills, competencies, and the necessary soft skills. A recent report by the Project Management Institute (PMI) claims that if a project manager possesses an ideal combination of technical and management skills, the probability of projects succeeding increases by more than 40%.

For success criteria, below is the list of a few soft skills for an effective Project Manager:

  • Leadership skills
  • Effective communication
  • Planning and strategic thinking
  • Time management and scheduling
  • Risk mitigation
  • Continuous Learning

Project Manager Certifications

Even though getting a Project Management certification is not compulsory, still, the top-notch organizations prefer or offer more pay to certified project managers. Unquestionably, the Project Management Professional (PMP) is the most accepted & popular certification across the globe which is offered by  Project Management Institute, USA. However, there are many global Project Management Certifications available and a few of them are listed below:

  • Associate in Project Management
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)
  • Certified Project Director (CPD)
  • Certified Project Manager (IAPM)
  • Certified ScrumMaster (CSM)
  • CompTIA Project+ certification
  • PRINCE2 Foundation/PRINCE2 Practitioner
  • Professional in Project Management (PPM)
  • Master Project Manager (MPM)

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