Project management cycles, also referred to as project management life cycles, are comprised of a project’s full set of phases from beginning to end. A project management cycle is carefully designed to assure the best strategy for the implementation of a project’s frameworks, methodologies, and processes. Because all projects are different, project management cycles are unique to every project.
The skeleton structure of a project life cycle is rather generic, following the five phases of traditional project management: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring / control, and closure (some companies use a six-phase cycle). These stages are present in every project but does not necessarily mean that the project life cycle will correlate to this exact structure. Depending on the type of project management, the generic life cycle may or may not be sufficient for the project’s needs and may require changes. For instance, agile project management cycles have planning phases that starkly contrast those of traditional project management, thus making the planning phase of the agile project’s life cycle much less a priority.
Project cycle management is the discipline of unifying and optimizing a company’s project management cycles to best perform to their needs. This is an essential (yet often overlooked) area of expertise as it tends to systematize future projects into an easily adaptable, uniform project life cycle, making everything from portfolio management to regular operations run more productively. In other words, while regular project management is concerned with carrying out the work through the project life cycles, project cycle management (PCM) deals with assuring the functionality of the project management cycles.