All projects require some level of CONCEPT definition to identify business drivers, problems, and opportunities for the project. Project objectives are aligned with the sponsoring organization’s strategic direction. The sponsor, project manager and organizational change manager assess the readiness of the organization for the project. This process is critical to attaining the necessary executive buy-in to fund, launch, and support the project, and can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks or months. If the project is determined to be feasible and likely to achieve the results desired, the program passes through the CONCEPT Phase and moves into INITIATE.
The INITIATE phase is the first formal project phase and is focused on defining the overall project parameters, such as identifying and aligning all key stakeholder expectations with the project’s purpose, establishing project and change management, and creating a quality environment needed for a successful outcome. This work can be performed within the management structure of the sponsoring organization. If the program is determined to be feasible and likely to achieve the results desired, the program passes through the INITIATE Phase and moves to PLAN.
During PLAN, the project team identifies and documents all of the processes and activities necessary to successfully deliver the project outcomes. These include scope, duration, estimated cost, quality, communications, requirements, risks, business process reengineering, organizational change management, procurement, and stakeholder engagement. The type and construct of the project influences the planning techniques and/or the level of rigor required. For less complex projects, planning activities may require a modest amount of time. For very large and complex projects, the PLAN phase can span multiple years. At the completion of the PLAN phase, if the project continues to appear viable, it moves into the EXECUTE and BUILD phase.
The EXECUTE and BUILD phase typically consumes the most energy and resources. During this phase, the project executes the tasks within the project plan, prioritized by the critical path. Particular attention is given to the production and quality of deliverables while balancing time, cost, scope, and quality of the project as a whole. Detailed analysis and decision making during the EXECUTE Phase requires the development of appropriate project management responses. This relies on consistent sponsor monitoring, supported by the project manager, of scope, schedule, costs, quality, risks and issues, and overall project performance. In parallel, the organizational change manager supports business unit and process owners in their preparations to implement process changes to harness the benefits of the project. Once the EXECUTE and BUILD portion of the project is complete and strategies for implementation deployed, the program passes through the EXECUTE and BUILD Phase and “goes live” or is “launched.”
The MONITOR and CONTROL phase measures project performance at regular intervals to ensure adoption of the change occurs and the business ultimately reaches proficiency. The activities in this phase oversee the tasks and metrics needed to ensure that the project proceeds without unforeseen surprise. Key project management activities include: schedule, cost, scope, and requirements management, as well as change control, quality management, risk and issue reporting, contract management, and benefits management and realization. From a change management perspective, the organizational change manager monitors adoption by the people using the new process, using surveys and acceptance progression tools to measure progress. Once the project appears in control and on track to achieve the desired outcomes, it passes into the CLOSE and ACHIEVE phase.
The CLOSE and ACHIEVE phase begins once the project’s product is accepted and transferred to the support organization, or a decision is made to suspend or cancel the project. Closing activities confirm custody of the project’s products, deliverables, and documentation, including lessons learned for future reference. Additionally, the organizational change manager confirms that the people impacted by the change are demonstrating new behaviors and habits associated with the new processes. In multi-phase projects, these activities may be applied at various project phases, such as upon a deliverable or phase completion. During the CLOSE and ACHIEVE phase, the sponsor and project manager release the resources committed to the project (such as staff and contractors), address remaining open items (such as open issues and lessons learned), and wind down the project in a way that minimizes risk in this final process phase of the project. 
 - It should be noted that this process phase is not just for projects that have made it to completion. Any project that completes the Initiate phase, and is subsequently halted for any reason, should also go through Close phase activities. This process presents growth opportunities for the project team and the sponsoring organization, and the lessons learned can significantly benefit future efforts.