Passing the #PMP Exam—Study Group Discussions (Chapter 2—Project phases)


The purpose of this post is to deal with one or two points regarding project phases that may have been left off the discussion from yesterday that covered the differences between a

  • Product life cycle
  • Project life cycle
  • Project management process (i.e., the 5 process groups)

1.  Review of points from previous post

Because the cost of making changes to the project goes up over time, large projects can be broken up into project phases. Most of the time these can be sequential and non-overlapping.

Fig. 1. Non-overlapping project phases

Time Period

1

2

3

Project Phase

1

2

3

However, if you have to accelerate the project’s final outcome, you may try and overlap some of the phases. For example, you may have some individual modules for a software program developed in Phase 1 and then have them debugged in Phase 2, with final testing done in Phase 3.

You may want the debugging process of some of the modules to begin before they are all complete, in which case Phase 2 would start before Phase 1 is done, as in the example below:

Fig. 2. Overlapping project phases

Time Period

1

2

3

Project Phase

← Phase 1 →

 

 

←           Phase 2 →

 

 

   ← Phase 3 →

2.  Point #1 = compressing phases so that they overlap increases risk (just like with compressing project schedules)

However, one important thing to remember is that overlapping phases like this can increase the risk of having to redo some of the work. This is true within a project itself that so-called schedule compression and overlapping some formerly non-overlapping phases can increase risk, so it’s a point worth remembering, especially when you get to the Time Management chapter 6.

3.  Point #2 = project phase closure treated formally like a project closure

The other important point about the phase is that each phase is a major control point along the way and requires formal approval in order for the next phase to commence. This is why the closing process group under Integration management is called by the PMBOK® Guide “Close Project or Phase” because the same inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs apply to both.

Okay, tomorrow I will cover the topic of different types of organizations from functional, projectized, matrix and composite, and how they affect the balance of power in an organization between ongoing operations and project work. Also, the advantages and disadvantages of each of these will be covered from a project manager’s point of view.

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