A Brief Guide to Project Cycle Management and Its Phases

Published by Gavin Donnelly on

Project cycle management is a term you may have heard, but do you really know what this approach to project management is? Read on for a brief introduction to the project cycle management approach and how to manage each of its phases in your projects.

What Is Project Cycle Management?

Project cycle management is an approach to project management that focuses on the process of planning, organizing, coordinating, and controlling a project through several distinct phases. It breaks down the project management cycle into 4 distinct phases. These phases are initiation, planning, execution, and closure.

The key to project cycle management is that each phase has a definite end point before you move on to the next phase in the PM cycle. Each phase has some type of deliverable or milestone that marks the point in time when you can move onto the next phase. In this way, the project cycle management approach allows you to ensure that you are meeting pre-defined objectives and producing deliverables to satisfy stakeholders.

The Phases of Project Cycle Management

  1. Initiation
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Closure


This phase is also sometimes known as the conception phase. During this phase you identify a business need, opportunity, or problem that needs solving. You then ideate about ways you can address the need, opportunity, or problem to determine an objective for your project. It’s very important during the initiation phase to determine whether your project is realistic, attainable, and set specific milestones. Setting these kinds of SMART project milestones is one of the fundamental project management principles.


The planning phase of project cycle management is also sometimes called the definition phase. Once you have determined what your project is and have the necessary approvals to move forward, you need to actually plan how to get it done. You’ll need to break the project down into smaller, more manageable tasks and create a schedule to get those tasks done. You need to create achievable, realistic goals and assign resources to achieve those goals. Resources include budget, team members, tools, and anything else you need to get the project done.


The execution phase is the phase in which you actually get to work on your project. It is sometimes broken up into 2 phases: launch and control. As a project manager, you need to ensure that everything stays on track: make sure your team members are getting their tasks done, monitor resources, manage the schedule, and ensure that the project is being worked on according to plan to keep stakeholders happy. During this phase, you’ll have to keep a close eye on the quality of work, and be in constant communication with everyone involved in the project. Using a tool like project management software will help you greatly during execution.


This is when you get to see the fruits of all your labors. You’ll deliver the final project and then evaluate the execution and success of the project. You need to step back and examine what went well during the execution phase, and determine what lessons you can learn to apply to your next project. This is also known as the reporting phase.


Project cycle management is an effective way to approach your projects by breaking them down into different phases. Any project can be looked at as if it has a life cycle, and you need to end each phase of that life cycle before moving onto the next one. When you start looking at your projects in terms of a cycle, you will gain a whole new perspective on project management!

Categories: Project management


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