Project Processes: A short reminder


on project life span and life cycle



By Muhamed Abdomerovic, D. Eng., Civil

North Carolina, USA

In each project, we operate two sets of ever-evolving processes in being for centuries, project technology and project management (Abdomerovic 2022, 18-43, 214-218)[1]:

  • Project technology processes are different for each project. They can be observed at various levels, from project business phases to the most detailed project activities or their parts.
  • Project management processes are generally the same for each project. The central processes (planning, executing, controlling, and back to planning) operate at the most detailed level of project technology only, i.e., project activity or its part, and govern all upper levels of project business, including business phases.

Project Technology Processes

There is no other example in project management but project technology and related phases that can easily have many purposes, configurations, levels, names, users, and others. However, any project phase and its metrics depend on the most detailed and unique project elements, i.e., project activities or their parts.

Each project can have, and usually has, sets of different phases, described with different terminology, for various stakeholders and levels of project development. For example, we can have in a project, simultaneously, the phases promoted by national, international, professional, or industry standards, banks, contractors, stakeholders, and other subjects participating in project development. We initially present phases of a particular set as a sequence, but during project plan development and implementation, they overlap; there will always be a significant change order that we must initiate, plan, implement, and hand over to the user.

Seemingly messy requirements for numbers, types, sources, contents, dynamics, and users for phases coexist perfectly during the development and implementation of a project management plan. The key to such broad inclusiveness is understanding that a set of project phases represents the top of particular contents. In contrast, the project activities present the lowest contents for a specific technology within the project business and share among phases. Therefore, we should not be wary about the number of phase sets, phases in each set, or names of project phases. Their initial arrangements, whatever they are, become evident during the development of the project management plan and updated during the implementation of the project management plan.

However, discussing source terminology for the collective names of project phases may help a better understanding among project management professionals. Here are some examples:

The project phases summarize technological and management work attributes and who should be involved in each phase (Abdomerovic 2022, 271-272, 296). Project stakeholders typically arrange phases in lineal or circular models, depending on the feedback to previous phases. While the lineal model starts at the left and proceeds gradually to the right, the circular arrangement runs the round until the project hands over to the customer. For example, project phases are collectively known as:

  • Project life cycle (PMI 1996, 11-15)[2]; (PMI 2017, 18-19)[3]
  • Project life span (Wideman 2004, 26-32)[4]
  • Project life cycle phases (Archibald 2004, 1)[5]
  • Project life stages/cycle (Wearne 1973, 10-16)[6]
  • Project cycle management (Arcidiacono 2014, 1)[7], others

The term ‘life span’ better describes a project’s common, temporary nature; it relates to limited contractual opportunity, e.g., initiating, designing, procuring, constructing, commissioning, and handing over the project to the customer. Besides, the term ‘life span’ resolves decades-old confusion within the project management community. This model presents project management phases in lineal form, progressively bringing a particular facility into being (Wideman 2004, 26-31, 49-71).

The term ‘life cycle’ may better describe a project’s occasional, sustainable nature; it reflects a long-term business opportunity: initiate, design, procure, construct, install, commission, operate, maintain, and transform the project in other value (Wearne 1973, 10-16). However, we should save the ‘life cycle’ term for another purpose.


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How to cite this article: Abdomerovic, M. (2023).  Project Processes: A short reminder on project life span and life cycle, commentary, PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue X, October. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/pmwj134-Oct2023-Abdomerovic-project-processes-a-short-reminder.pdf

About the Author

Muhamed Abdomerovic

North Carolina, USA


Muhamed Abdomerovic, D.Eng., Civil, has had a diverse and progressive career experience for over thirty years in the development and application of scientific principles to project management planning. He is the author of the book Project Management Planning, published by Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York, Berlin, Brussels, Lausanne, Oxford, 2022. (https://www.peterlang.com/document/1241232)

He has learned and experienced the challenge of project management planning through involvement in or management of many projects with total budget exceeding $12.5 billion. While employed on a variety of projects in information technology, construction, process industry and energy sectors, he has gained a broad insight into project management methodologies and practice.

Muhamed is currently an independent consultant. He was previously project planner with Vanderlande Industries, master scheduler with FKI Logistex’s and program manager with Luckett & Farley. Twenty-five years ago he made the decision to permanently move with his family from Bosnia to the United States of America. His earlier experience in Bosnia ranged from construction manager trainee with Vranica to planning department manager with Energoinvest.

Throughout his career he has been an active participant in the development of the project management profession. He has published over 50 journal articles on project scope, time, cost and communication management. He has also published articles in six proceedings of Project Management World Congresses and has published four books. His current research covers the relationships among project management processes, project management system logic and system approach to project management planning.

In recent years he has been concerned with thoughtful project management planning issues. For example, we are observing today how promoters of project management planning derivatives are misrepresenting the scientific approach to project management planning. His most recent papers help reduce disconnects among project management system knowledge, planning and its derivatives.

He was consecutively recertified as a Project Management Professional (PMP) from 1998 to 2010 and has contributed to the development of the PMBOK Guide. He joined the International Project Management Association (IPMA) in 1972. He graduated from the University of Sarajevo with the Diploma of Civil Engineer.  Contact details:1100-F Metropolitan Ave., Unit 201, Charlotte, NC 28204, mabdomerovic@gmail.com

[1] Abdomerovic, Muhamed. Project Management Planning. Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York, Berlin, Brussels, Lausanne, Oxford, 2022. www.peterlang.com.
[2] PMA 1996. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) 1996 Edition. Newtown Square PA: Project Management Institute, 1996.
[3] PMA 2017. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) 2017 Edition. Newtown Square PA: Project Management Institute, 2017.
[4] Wideman, Max. 2004. A Management Framework for Project, Program and Portfolio Integration. Vancouver, BC: Trafford Publishing (UK).
[5] Archibald, Russell. “Part 2 Project Life Cycle Models.” Max’s Project Management Wisdom, Guest Article, (2004): www.maxwideman.com.
[6] Wearne, Stephen. Principles of Engineering Organization. London, UK: Edward Arnold Publishers, 1973.
[7] Arcidiocano, Giuseppe 2014. “Use of Project Cycle Management in Project Selection Process: Evaluation of European Commission approach.” PM World Journal III, Issue III (March 2014). https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/pmwj20-mar2014-arcidacono-project-cycle-management-FeaturedPaper.pdf