LIFE CYCLES FOR LEVEL 2 - Strategic Planning for Project Management

Common processes require a good process definition effort accompanied by the necessary organizational behavior needed for the execution of the processes.

Level 2, common processes, can be broken down into five life cycle phases, as shown in Figure below. The first life cycle phase of Level 2 is the embryonic phase, which is where the organization recognizes that project management can benefit the organization. The embryonic phase includes:

  • Recognizing the need for project management.
  • Recognizing the potential benefits of project management.
  • Recognizing the applications of project management to the various parts of the business.
  • Recognizing some of the changes necessary to implement project management.

Companies do not generally promote the acceptance of project management unless they understand a sound basis for wanting project management. The six most common driving forces for project management are as follows:

  • Capital projects: High-dollar-value capital projects require effective planning and scheduling. Without project management, ineffective use of manufacturing resources may occur.
  • Customer expectations: Customers have the right to expect the contractor to manage the customer’s work requirements efficiently and effectively.
  • Internal competitiveness: Executives want employees to focus on external competition rather than internal competition, power struggles, and gamesmanship.
  • Executive understanding: Although it’s uncommon, executives can drive the acceptance of project management from the top of the organization down to the bottom.
  • New product development: Executives want a methodology in place that provides a high likelihood that R&D projects will be completed successfully, in a timely manner, and within reasonable cost.
  • Efficiency and effectiveness: Executives want the organization to be highly competitive.

Life cycle phases for Level 2 of project management maturity:

Life cycle phases for Level 2 of project management maturity

In theory, most companies have one and only one driving force. While we’ve just discussed six different driving forces, in practice, in reality, they combine to give us one, and only one—survival. This is shown in Figure below. Once executives recognize that project management is needed for survival, changes occur quickly.

What is unfortunate about the embryonic phase is that the recognition of benefits and applications may be seen first by lower and middle levels of management. Senior management must then be “sold” on the concept of project management. This leads us to the second life cycle phase, executive management acceptance. Included in the executive management acceptance phase are the following:

  • Visible executive support.
  • Executive understanding of project management.
  • Project sponsorship.
  • Willingness to change the way the company does business.

The components of survival:

components of survival

The third life cycle phase of Level 2 is line management acceptance. This includes:

  • Visible line management support.
  • Line management commitment to project management.
  • Line management education.
  • Release of functional employees for project management training programs.

It is highly unlikely that line managers will provide support for project management unless they also see “visible” executive support.

The fourth life cycle phase of Level 2 is the growth phase. This is the critical phase. Although some of the effort in this phase can be accomplished in parallel with the first three life cycle phases of Level 2, the completion of this phase is predicated upon the completion of the first three life cycle phases. The growth phase is the beginning of the creation of the project management process.

Included in this phase are:

  • Development of company project management life cycles.
  • Development of a project management methodology.
  • A commitment to effective planning.
  • Minimization of scope changes (i.e., of creeping scope).
  • Selection of project management software to support the methodology.

Unfortunately, companies often develop several types of methodologies for each type of project within the organization. This becomes an inefficient use of resources, although it can function as a good learning experience for the company.

The fifth life cycle phase of Level 2 is the so-called “initial maturity phase” of Level 2. Included in this phase are:

  • The development of a management cost/schedule control system.
  • Integration of schedule and cost control.
  • Development of an ongoing educational curriculum to support project management and enhance individual skills.

Many companies never fully complete this life cycle phase because the organization is resistant to project cost control, otherwise known as horizontal accounting. Line managers dislike horizontal accounting because it clearly identifies which line managers provide good estimates for projects and which do not. Executives resist horizontal accounting because the executives want to establish a budget and schedule long before a project plan is created.


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