On Project Life Cycle Terminology



By Crispin (“Kik”) Piney

South of France

Ref: Ref: Smith, K. F. (2023).  Project Life Cycle * Sophie’s Choice: What’s in a Word? commentary, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue VI, June. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/pmwj130-Jun2023-Smith-project-life-cycle-sophies-choice-2.pdf

12 June 2023


I have three remarks I would like to add to the excellent article by Dr Kenneth Smith in the June edition of the PM World Journal.

As Dr Smith recommends, I will first state the definition of Life Cycle that I will use throughout this brief note: “the series of stages in form and functional activity through which an organism passes”[1]. The “stages” are conceptually equivalent to the “phases” referred to in Dr Smith’s article. Now, my remarks.

My first remark concerns “Monitoring and Control”. For an organism (in our case a project) to progress effectively through the stages of its life cycle, there needs to be a mechanism that is active throughout the organism’s lifetime to ensure this effective and consistent progression. As such, therefore, the corresponding process has to be external to the set of life cycle phases[2]. Dr Smith touched on this in his first (PMI-related) example where he presented Monitoring and Control (M&C) along with the following remark (in bold in the original) “[…] in addition to being a stand-alone 4th Phase, [Monitoring and Control] is also incorporated in each of the other Phases”.  I would go further and contend that, although M&C is a distinct project management process required for life cycle management, it is neither a phase in its own right nor is it incorporated into other phases because, amongst other features, it is required for ensuring the initiation, progression and closure of the actual project phases. This role of M&C leads to my second comment.

There is one key feature of every project life cycle that is often overlooked: the transition from one phase to the next. This transition is not automatic. A phase cannot start itself spontaneously any more than a living organism can arise directly from nothing[3], nor should a phase end without effective verification and controls…


To read entire Letter to the Editor, click here

How to cite this work: Piney, C. (2023). On the Subject of Project Life Cycle Terminology, Letter to the Editor, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/pmwj131-Jul2023-Piney-on-project-life-cycle-terminology-Letter-to-Editor.pdf

[1] Based on Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/life%20cycle . Accessed 3 Jun. 2023
[2] Just as the immune system is not a phase in the life cycle of living organisms.
[3] For our classicists: “ouden ex oudenos”. (Parmenides).