What Does Project Life Cycle Mean?

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The Project Management Life Cycle is typically broken down into four large phases: Initiation, Planning, Execution, and Closure. Each phase has a number of tasks, large and small, that complete it. While the format of this article may make the Project Life Cycle look linear, it is actually a cyclical process that constantly rotates as more projects are fed into it. Think of this cycle as a constantly moving wheel that takes projects from Initiation to Closure. Each project can be fed into this gear to help businesses drive innovation and create a larger market share for its new products. Here are the four phases in detail:

  1. Initiation. This phase begins with a Business Case. A Business Case is the justification of a new project. It identifies a business problem and its solution. It argues for a particular direction a new project should go to solve the business problem and make the business more money. The next part of Initiation is to draw up a Feasibility Study. This documents all potential solutions to a business problem. The next steps are to develop a clear structure for the project with the Project Charter, appoint a Project Team, and set up the Project Office—the best place to work on the project. Once your project is clear on its objectives and personnel, perform a Phase Review.
  2. Planning. This extensive phase is all-important because it sets the groundwork for the whole project. This phase requires workers to create a Project Plan, an overview of the project and all the tasks that must be completed. The next plan is the Resource Plan, a list of the raw materials and funding the project needs to be successful. This is closely tied to the Finance Plan, which describes all the expenditures required to complete the project. Next is the Quality Plan, which schedules all of the tasks and provides quality standards that need to be met. The Risk Plan assesses all of the potential pitfalls of the project, the Acceptance Plan describes how you plan to achieve customer acceptance, the Communications Plan is designed to keep everyone on the same page, and finally the Procurement Plan describes which suppliers need to be contracted to complete the project.
  3. Execution. Now that all of the extensive planning is done, it’s time to execute. This is the phase in which the deliverables are built, each one an add-on to the original design. As the work progresses, the leaders must manage the project. Time Management, Cost Management, Quality Management, Change Management—meant to control change effectively, Risk Management, Issue Management as issues between workers come up during this intense phase, Procurement Management as the needs of the project change, Acceptance Management, and Communication Management are all aspects of this phase. Essentially, this phase is where the leaders of the project ensure that all contingencies are taken into account.
  4. Closure. When the project work is nearly done, the project leaders produce a Project Closure Report, which describes how they intend to close the project. It confirms that the objectives of the project have been met, and the deliverables are in the customers’ hands. Each project manager completes a Project Closure Report. The project managers then draft a Post Project Review, which determines if the goals of the project were met, and what lessons for future projects can be gleaned from the success or failure of various aspects of the project. This document is the key to ensuring that the same mistakes aren’t made again in future projects, and that the aspects that worked well are repeated when the project life cycle begins again.
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Top 5 WordPress Project Management Plugins

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When it comes to building user-friendly, easy-to-manage websites and blogs, WordPress is head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. What you may not know about WordPress, though, is that there are plugins available which can take your project management efforts to the next level. In many cases they allow for file centralization, discussion among team members and a way to much more clearly understand a project’s progress. And since they range in price from completely free to several hundred dollars, you’re sure to find one which fits your organization’s needs and budget.

Here are five of the top WordPress project management plugins for your consideration:

WP Project Manager: This plugin is free in its most basic state, and supports unlimited sites. However, the functionality of the free version is pretty limited. Beyond that, you can choose premium versions which allow for one site, five sites or an unlimited number of sites. Assign tasks, control which team members can access which information, track milestones, see all files in one place, and archive completed projects. The calendar gives you an overall view of all of your projects.

Project Panorama: This plugin has three versions – free, single site and unlimited sites. The free version features a bit more functionality than the free version of WP Project Manager – it allows for the tracking of overall progress, defining milestones and even discussion of projects among team members, with all notes and questions on one page. The upgraded versions also include an unlimited number of phases each project can be broken into, unlimited tasks, automatic progress adjustments, the ability to upload and store project-specific documents and the ability to password protect and limit projects to specific logins.

CollabPress: This collaboration tool, which also integrates with BuddyPress, allows for management of unlimited projects and tasks and unlimited comments. It also allows for file upload for all projects, task lists, tasks and comments. Calendar view allows users to get an overview on all projects currently in progress. Conveniently, users will automatically receive an email whenever a task is completed or commented upon. And an activity log tracks all activity, making it easy to go back and look over changes and updates. It also allows for use of built-in WordPress accounts and has front-end shortcode support.

SP Project & Document Manager: This file management and document collaboration system allows users to easily upload, organize, track and share documents, files, records and images pertaining to projects. The premium version adds more features, such as mobile readiness, the ability to add custom fields to forms, custom email notifications and auto deletion of files based on a set time.

Task Freak: This free plugin allows for project creation, assigning of rights to users as well as visitors, task creation and assignment, task discussion and the tracking of progress. Projects can be classified as either public or private. This plugin offers full integration with WordPress users and roles, and users are associated to projects by their WordPress role. This plugin is mobile friendly, accessible by smartphone and tablet.

Let one of these project management plugins make the often overwhelming task of managing projects one which can be completed efficiently and with greater collaboration among team members.