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Project Management Life Cycle Phase Reviews

March 19 2007

Phase Reviews in the Project Management Life Cycle

As a Project Manager, would you like to review your project management life cycle to see if it’s on track?

At regular points during the Project Management Lifecycle, you’ll need to perform a formal project review (otherwise known as a stage gate review), to determine whether your project is on track. To help you do this, we’ve described how to:

How to Peform Project Reviews Efficiently

There are many ways that a project management life cycle can be reviewed to determine its current status. These include:

  • Quality Assurance & Control Reviews
  • Project Audits & Independent Reviews
  • Post Implementation Reviews
  • User Acceptance Reviews

But the most important type of project review is completed at the end of each project phase, it’s called a “Phase Review”.

A Phase Review is a formal review of the project undertaken by the Project Manager, to determine whether the project is currently on schedule, within budget and has generated all of the required deliverables to date. The results are documented in a Phase Review Form which is presented to the Project Board, to gain the approval to proceed to the next phase in the Project Lifecycle.

You need to complete a Phase Review at the end of each phase, to allow your board to determine whether your project has achieved its objectives to date and is ready to proceed to the next phase.

So how do I complete Project Phase Reviews? Here’s how to do it…

Step 1: Identify your Review Criteria

The first step is to identify the criteria that you’re going to review the project against. Examples of review criteria are:

  • Have the business benefits been defined?
  • Was the feasibility of the solution determined?
  • Is the project on schedule as per the Project Plan?
  • Is the project within budget as per the Financial Plan?
  • Has the project produced the required deliverables?
  • Have there been any substantial changes?
  • Are there any critical project risks?
  • Are there any high priority issues?

Step 2: Complete the Phase Review

Having defined your review criteria, you’re now ready to conduct your Phase Review, to determine whether the above criteria have been adequately satisfied. To perform the review, you will need to assess the project’s performance against the project plan, financial plan and quality plan. You will also want to check that all of the deliverables have been produced and that the quality targets have been met.

As well as determining whether the project is currently on-track, the review should also check that the project team have all of the resources needed to complete the project. For instance, if you need additional support, funding, people, equipment or materials, then this is the time to ask for it from your project board.

Step 3: Fill-in a Phase Review Form

You need 3 phase review forms at your disposal:

  • Initiation Phase Review Form
  • Planning Phase Review Form
  • Execution Phase Review Form

Complete the relevant form, depending on the phase you have just completed within your project. The form will help you to summarize the results of your phase review. You will need to clearly communicate the current status of your project, if you wish to obtain all of the resources needed to proceed to the next phase in the project lifecycle.

Step 4: Gain Approval to Proceed

As the Project Manager, you’ll then present your Phase Review Form at a board meeting held specifically to discuss the current status of the project and decide on its continuation. At this meeting, you will present:

  • The original project vision, objectives, scope and deliverables
  • The deliverables completed by the project to date
  • The progress of the project against the delivery dates
  • Any areas of slippage, in terms of time, cost and quality
  • Any key issues and risks that require attention

The Project Board will assess this information and reach one of the following conclusions:

  • Approve the project to proceed to the next phase
  • Request additional work be undertaken to complete this phase
  • Delay, transfer or close the project

Completing a Phase Review is a critical step in delivering a successful project, as it gives your Project Board more control and it helps you to share with them the responsibility for the delivery of the project.

By taking these 4 steps, you can ensure that your project progresses smoothly through each of the project management life cycle phases, with the full support of your Project Board. Download one of these Project Management Templates from Initiation Phase Review Form, Planning Phase Review Form, Execution Phase Review Form or the whole Online Project Management package.