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Project Life Cycle Phases One, Two and Three: Measure Twice, Cut Once

By Doreen Watt posted 04-10-2019 13:42

I hope you find this follow-up blog to be very useful from the webinar that took place on April 10th entitled "Project Life Cycle: Measure Twice, Cut Once."

In project management, there are 5 phases to a project life cycle: Initiating; planning; executing; Monitoring/Controlling; and Closing.  The adage “measure twice, cut once,” best describes the first three phases of a project life cycle.  Initiate and plan (measuring twice) so you can execute (cut once).

How much you do in phase one and two depends on the objectives of the project.  Just doing project management tasks to check boxes doesn’t add value. Do enough project management to add value to the overall success of the project.  The intention of planning is to balance the competing demands of a project (i.e. scope, budget, time, resources and risk).

Regardless of the type and scope of project, always engage in the following initiating and planning activities:

  1. Identify the project (Initiating).  In this phase you are defining the problem and developing the goals.  Think about what does ‘done’ look like when this project is complete. Ask ‘why’ to the problem to continue to drill down on the problem
  2. Identify the stakeholders (Initiating) Identify who is impacted by this project and who has a stake the outcome of the project.
  3. Create a scope statement (and verify with the stakeholders and project team) (Planning).  The scope statement identifies the goals and includes the project justification, deliverables (scope), and success criteria (how we will know the project is successful). *Example A
  4. Determine project team (planning).  Who are your best resources?  Do they have availability?

Once the project team has been determined, the planning continues.  Schedule a project kick off meeting where you can engage the project team in performing the following (planning) activities:

Create the schedule. Break down the deliverables from the scope statement into activities to be completed by the project team members.  Engage the project team members in estimating how long those activities will take and sequence them to ensure they get done in the order the project will require. 

Create a project communication sheet.  Answer the questions of who you’ll communicate with, how, and how often.  This ensures you keep stakeholders, who are not part of the project team will be kept informed. *Example B

Complete a risk assessment. Ask the project team members what can go wrong, and what we can do if that does happen and document them along with the plan so you don’t have to scramble if one of the risks actually happens.  *Example C

At this point you’ve completed Phases One and Two and are ready to proceed to Phase 3: Executing

In the executing phase, the work is completed to produce the goals.

It’s good practice to set up weekly project meetings; and follow those up with meeting minutes that end with actionable items noting who is responsible. Match progress against your planning documents and you can course correct as needed!

Ensure the all the stakeholders are kept up to date by providing a status update. *Example D

Project Scope Statement (Example A)

A. General Project Information

Information to be provided in this section gives a specific name to the project as well as pertinent information about the personnel involved.

Project Name:  

Project Number: Date:

Prepared by:   Reviewed by:

B. Project Description

What will project create?

C. Project Justification

Why is this project necessary?

D. Project Deliverables

What are the specific, tangible results the project will deliver (i.e. installed software, training, support).  Also list any exclusions:

E. Project Objectives

Define quantifiable criteria that must be met for the project to be considered successful

Project Communication Sheet (Example B)

Name/Nature of Communication



Content Provided By


Format Used

Delivery Media


Project Manager

Issues Updates/



Primary Stakeholders; project team members

Project Manager, Any Stakeholder

As needed


E-mail, Memos

The Project Manager will update the Issues Log.

Status Report

Project Manager

Primary Stakeholders

Project Managers


Status Report form


The Project Manager will pull information gathered from the status reports.

Team Members

Urgent Issues

Primary Attorney\Case Manager Attorney

New Issues/Action Items

Primary Attorney


Primary Attorney; Case Manager Attorney; Project Manager


Emails, Memos,


Issues/Action Items section from Status Reports from PM



Risk Assessment Worksheet (Example C)







Status Update Sheet (Example D)



Project decisions made

Risks discussed

Planning documents updated


Next Steps:
Task (responsible party)

Task (responsible party)