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 and project manager assess the readiness of the organization for the project. This process is critical to attaining the necessary buy-in to fund and launch 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 aligning stakeholder expectations with the project’s purpose, establishing the management or the project, 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 creates project documents that identify 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. Engagement of the project sponsor during the initiate phase greatly influences the effectiveness of leadership, decision making and business strategy demands. This is a significant advantage at the conclusion of planning. 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 is usually the longest phase and 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 completed during the Executing Process Phase will require the development of appropriate project management responses. This will require consistent monitoring of scope, schedule, costs, quality, risks and issues, and overall project performance. In parallel, preparation of the business unit and process owners to implement process changes to harness the benefits of the change. 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. The activities in this phase oversee the tasks and metrics needed to ensure that the project proceeds without unforeseen surprise. Key activities include: schedule management, cost management, scope management, requirements management, change control, quality management, risk and issue reporting, contract management, project surveys and benefits management and realization. Once the project appears in control, 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, and document lessons learned for future reference. In multi-phase projects, this phase may be applied at various project phases, such as upon a deliverable or phase completion. During the CLOSE and ACHIEVE phase, the project manager releases the resources committed to the project (such as staff and contractors), addresses remaining open items (such as open issues and lessons learned), and winds 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.