Project cycle management (PCM) is a method based on years of development, focused on organizing and planning projects through foundational principles and defined phases. This process covers the inception of the project to its planning and execution. 

There are many benefits to the cycle. You can expect -

  • Clarity and measurable goals
  • Well-calculated risks
  • Efficient resource management 
  • Better efficiency, leading to savings in time and cost
  • Better likelihood of meeting expectations
  • The more effective rate of timely project completion and delivery

In this article, you'll learn all about PCM and why it can add value to your projects.

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How the Project Cycle Management Works

PCM strengthens the project life cycle by focusing on a well-organized system that has proven results. It's organized in phases that are laid out for clarity, objective goals and expectations, and universal practice. Each phase works much like a chapter of a book, to be started and completed before moving on to the next phase. This ensures better quality outcomes and meeting on agreed project expectations. 

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When a phase is complete, the new one commences. As a project manager or professional leads his or her team through each phase, they can move their starting point forward until the total project completion.

Project cycle management utilizes basic project management principles. It prioritizes project structure, a defined phase, clear goals, transparency, risk recognition, and several other components.  

The significant positive outcome from using PCM for the project life cycle is a cost-effective, organized process, with quality results on time.  

Why Project Cycle Management

Many professionals have experienced the overwhelming feeling that comes with a large project. It sometimes seems impossible, especially if similar projects have faced significant historical challenges. When dealing with a team, a strict timeline, various partners, and multiple economic risks, many components can throw a wrench into things.

Project cycle management is a proven process that helps eliminate that risk and create a more effective solution. With PCM, professionals can manage projects with confidence throughout the entire project cycle. 

There are three main reasons why we use project cycle management.

  • Simplicity
  • Improved productivity
  • Transparency
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Simplicity

"Simplify, simplify, simplify." - Henry David Thoreau

The project cycle management process simplifies the project. In a complex situation, with many components working simultaneously, simplicity is critical. When leaders can simplify the process, this creates better results that lead to ultimate success. PCM uses phases which break up the process. 

Improved Productivity

"Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else." - Peter Drucker

When it comes to saving costs, time, and improving quality, effective productivity means everything. When the PCM phases simplify the process, teams can execute the project successfully. And when a project upgrades from "overwhelming" to "we can do this," employee morale and proficiency improve. A more productive project creates a healthy and successful environment.

Transparency 

"Transparency is the key ingredient for the successful running of any group" - Vijay Krishna 

When managing projects, it can be difficult to communicate along the way. The PCM uses clear methods to define each phase and where teams are along the process. This equips leaders to communicate with stakeholders, partners, and interested parties relevant to the project. A transparent and effectively communicated project makes everyone happy and helps nurture expectations and goals.

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The Phases of Project Cycle Management 

The heart of project cycle management is its five phases. Each phase ensures successful stages that add up to one whole and complete project execution. This method is an organized and clean way to meet expectations on time and anticipate challenges along the way. 

The phases of project cycel are:

  • Initiation
  • Planning and design
  • Execution
  • Monitoring and controlling
  • Closure

Initiation

Much like a seed sprouting to a plant, every project starts with a simple idea. The initiation phase nurtures that idea and develops the big picture, scope, and objective of the project. Managers will review the key project controls needed, areas for improvement before the start of the project, and develop an assessment of what it will take to complete the project.

Planning and Design

Like every good project, planning is essential. It's where ultimate results, preparedness for obstacles, and many crucial factors develop. A good plan makes a huge difference, and PCM focuses on creating a strong game plan focused on minimizing risks. 

Execution

The longest stage in the project life cycle, execution is where the hard work gets done. This is the literal execution of the plan, where a team will work on the project to deliver a quality product. The previous phase clearly defines each step of the way.

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Monitoring and Controlling

There is a best-case scenario, and there is a worst-case, and a good plan ensures managers can anticipate both. The monitoring and controlling phase is the walkthrough process that tracks progress to make sure problems are solved promptly and that the timeline is still positioned to meet its goal. This phase is all about balance, since too much control can take up too much time, and too little control can increase risk. 

Closure

If a project isn't closed properly, it can continue to drain resources and cause unexpected problems. In a closure, a manager will lead the formal steps with his or her client to end and deliver the final project. This is an important step to gain feedback and assess how good the output is. 

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What Is the Logical Framework Approach?

The Logical Framework Approach (LFA) is a widely used method for project management and strategic planning that is very effective. Given the variety of competing uses for water and the resource base, it is beneficial for water management and sanitation projects. It includes a comprehensive set of tools for analyzing and resolving planning issues and designing and managing solutions (the approach). The log frame (the matrix), which summarizes what the project intends to do and how it will be done, what the significant assumptions are, and how outputs and outcomes will be monitored and assessed, is the ultimate result of this analytical technique.

Documentation in Project Cycle Management

Project management records produced throughout a project are referred to as project documentation. The project team should adhere to the actions, methods, and guidelines defined in these documents, such as the project plan, timeline, or budget.

Project papers include the project charter, the statement of work, contracts, requirements documentation, a register of stakeholders, a register of changes to be made, an activity list, a register of quality metrics, a register of risks, an issue log, and other similar documents.

Example: Business cases, project status reports, and project requirement sheets are a few examples of these documents.

Decision-Making Responsibilities

The capacity to make critical business judgments is possibly the most crucial project manager talent. One needs strong decision-making abilities to analyze the possibilities and select the best course of action. Conversely, making bad decisions or being indecisive might hinder a project and your career.

A reasonably logical series of steps make up the traditional management decision-making process:

  1. Recognize that there is a problem, set goals, and acquire the data required to reach an informed choice by identifying the issue.
  2. The best way to come up with all potential answers is to brainstorm them all together in a group. At this stage, don't filter anything that even seems remotely acceptable.
  3. Create measurable, objective criteria to evaluate the feasibility and reasonableness of potential solutions. Then, start considering the factors for determining if the decision was successful or unsuccessful.
  4. Choose the best option - based on the filtering criteria, choose the ideal course of action.
  5. Put the chosen solution in place by implementing it.
  6. Track and keep an eye on the outcomes of the adopted remedy and the consequences that follow. Long-term effects might not be visible for some time.

Programming

The conversations occur during the programming phase, resulting in an agreed-upon procedure recorded in an indicative program. The procedure's goal is to pinpoint the project's primary and top goals to build a pertinent and workable framework for it.

Identification 

The project concepts' applicability is examined during the identification phase. The project's target audience and stakeholders are included in this. It looks at potential issues that various parties might experience and available solutions.

Formulation

The project cycle management process's funding decision-making step is the formulation and identification phases. An evaluation of the finance proposal's quality is done during this phase.

How Project Manager Helps With Project Cycle Management?

Keeping work on track, organizing team members, managing timelines, and ensuring that the work is completed following the original plan are all the project manager's responsibilities throughout this stage of the project management life cycle.

The third phase, known as the implementation phase, is when the project's work is carried out and its plan is implemented. During implementation, it's crucial to keep control and communicate as necessary.

PCM is an efficient and evolving technique to produce excellent solutions for projects across many industries and countries. Project managers provide themselves with a successful outcome and a superior leadership position when they choose to learn about the process in-depth.

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Take Your Career to New Heights

Project cycle management has proven to be an effective and growing method to produce successful results for projects all around the world and in hundreds of industries. When a professional decides to learn about the process in-depth, they equip themselves for a successful output and a better position for leadership roles.

Simplilearn is a leading organization that provides digital economic training. We drive innovation and accelerate careers for thousands of professionals like you. Today, you can sign up for the PMP Certification Training Course that prepares you for your PMP certification exam. When you use effective techniques like PCM, you can raise your career to a whole new level.

About the Author

Stuart CrequeStuart Creque

Stuart is a storyteller, with a foundation in technology, marketing, and management. He tells business stories in the form of content that means something to both external clients and internal team. He has written, produced and directed short films and written the feature film The Last Earth Girl.

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