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IT Project Lifecycle

UW-Green Bay's IT projects follow a staged process derived from the Project Management Institute's (PMI) best practice guidelines with minor adjustments to fit our environment. It is important to note that the amount of effort spent in each stage will vary based on the characteristics and complexity of the project. As the project size and complexity increase, so would the formality and detail for each stage. The order of the stages can also be misleading, as this isn't always a fixed sequence, and many times changes to the scope, budget, or schedule will require revisiting previous stages and making adjustment to the plan/baseline. Projects may also be completed in phases with an adaptive or iterative lifecycle, where only the initial phase(s) can be planned, while later stages are planned when more information is available.

IT project lifecycle diagram

Our project management team continually reviews this process for improvements, and encourages feedback from the University community. If you have questions related to IT projects, our process, or have suggestions for improvements, please reach out to

1 Pre-Project (Request)

All new project requests will start with the requestor/sponsor completing an Information Technology Project Request. The intention of this worksheet is to collect criteria about the request to allow for objective project selection and prioritization based on effort and impact to the University. Missing or incomplete information will cause delays, please be as thorough as possible. In the next step, project requests will be scored based on the Information Technology Project Request Form information. Depending on the primary focus of the request, the Information Technology Leadership Team and/or the University Vice Chancellors will evaluate, select, and prioritize requests based on available University resources.

  • Organizational need or opportunity
  • Requestor with Initial project details to answer questions regarding impact and effort
  • Designated project sponsor who is aware of, and supports the request
  • Determination and documentation of initial project details
Common Outputs/Deliverables
  • Completed and submitted Information Technology Project Request Form

2 Pre-Project (Selection)

After project requests are submitted using the Information Technology Project Request Form, they are reviewed by the Project Management Office. An objective score is given based on the answers provided in order to compare requests based on their effort and impact to the University. Depending on the primary focus of the request, the Information Technology Leadership Team and/or the University Vice Chancellors will evaluate, select, and prioritize requests based on available University resources.

  • Completed and submitted Information Technology Project Request Form
  • Score project requests based on answers to the Information Technology Project Request form questions to determine effort required and impact to the University
  • Project selection, rejection, or deferment
  • Project prioritization
  • Selection and prioritization notification to requestor along with discussion regarding next steps
Common Outputs/Deliverables
  • Project effort and impact score
  • Project selection and prioritization decision
  • Completed and submitted Information Technology Project Request Form

3 Initiating Stage

The initiating stage is the first official project stage after a project is approved and focuses on what the project will accomplish. This is where the project budget and resources are officially approved by the project sponsor. Project planning happens at a high level, more specific planning is performed in the next phase. The main component of this stage is completion and approval of the project charter. The project charter is a higher level document focusing on the organizational need the project will address. Examples of what the project charter should address include:

  • Project background including the organizational need being addressed, why it is important, the expected return, and some form of justification
  • Specific and measurable goals and objectives
  • Project deliverables which address the goals and objectives
  • Project scope including what is in scope, and just as importantly, what is out of scope
  • Assumptions
  • Known constraints
  • Dependencies
  • Risks
  • Known system/service impact (this can help define the stakeholder's)
  • Stakeholder list including expectations and influence
  • Primary project resources
  • Budget
  • Initial approval of the project from IT Leadership and/or University Vice Chancellors
  • Resources (I.T. and Non-I.T as necessary) available to complete the initiating stage deliverables
  • Assign Project Manager
  • Determine project team members
  • Project Kick-Off meeting
  • Creation of the project charter
  • Creation of the stakeholder list/register
  • Creation of a requirements list/matrix
Common Outputs/Deliverables
  • Sponsor approved project charter
  • Stakeholder register/identification
  • Stakeholder register/identification
  • Sponsor approved requirements list/matrix

4 Planning Stage

The planning stage focuses on how the project will be accomplished. This stage builds on the information in the project charter to create a more refined and detailed deliverable list and the work required to complete them. The project team and resources required are documented along with a timeline for that work. Many people think of a Gantt chart and though determining activities and timelines are a part of this stage, the project plan includes several other elements. Examples of those elements are plans for costs, quality, resources, risk, procurement, communications, and change control.

  • Initiating stage completion including Sponsor approved project charter, stakeholder identification, and documented requirements
  • Resources (I.T. and Non-I.T. as necessary) available to complete the planning stage deliverables
  • Refine and add detail to the higher level requirements and deliverables from the initiating phase, confirm they are possible, and understand if additional requirements are needed. Acceptance criteria for each deliverable should be developed as well
  • Expand and refine assumptions and constraints to add more detail, including their potential impact
  • Identify purchase requirements and procurement strategy
  • Create activity list and place in the proper sequence, determine task dependencies (predecessors and successors)
  • Estimate resource requirements and verify contention with other projects
  • Identify and analyze risks, along with response planning
  • Determine and document the project's change control process
Common Outputs/Deliverables
  • Project plan (all-encompassing)
  • Project schedule

5 Executing Stage

The executing stage is where the project team completes the agreed upon project deliverables based on the elements from the planning stage, or approved changes to the original plans. Resource usage is normally highest in this stage as it is where the product or solution is developed. Stakeholder expectations and engagement are closely managed during this stage to prevent project problems. Risk contingency and remediation plans are also implemented when applicable.

  • Planning stage completion
  • Associated agreements or contracts finalized
  • Project deliverables are produced/implemented
  • Resources are procured
  • Management of stakeholder expectations
  • Management of the quality of deliverables
  • Implement risk remediation plan if applicable
Common Outputs/Deliverables
  • Accepted project deliverables
  • Issue Log
  • Lessons learned register

6 Closing Stage

The closing stage occurs after the project deliverables have been implemented. It is a common misconception that a project is complete after implementation of deliverables, which is why this stage is often overlooked. During this stage, the Project Manager will confirm all requirements have been met and obtain formal acceptance from the Sponsor. If any deliverables need to be handed off to operational teams, it will be done during this stage as shown by the "Ongoing Operations/Production" overlap in the lifecycle diagram. Stakeholders will be notified of project completion, and the project team will be officially released. Contracts related to the project should be closed at this stage. Any project documents will be stored and archived including lessons learned. Recording lessons learned provides a method for continuous improvement on subsequent projects. This includes items that went right or wrong, from a technical, project management, management, or any other aspect of the project.

  • Completion of executing stage, including implemented project deliverables
  • Formal acceptance of deliverables
  • Hand off any deliverables to operational staff
  • Gather lessons learned from stakeholders
  • Close any project related contracts
  • Formally release the project team
  • Notify stakeholders of project completion
Common Outputs/Deliverables
  • Archived project documentation storage
  • Lessons learned repository
  • Project closure report

7 Monitor and Control Stage

Monitoring and Controlling activities are done throughout the project and focus on ensuring plans are working and if not, that proper adjustments are made. This area includes things that are measured, inspected, reviewed, compared, monitored, verified, and reported.

  • Measurement/monitoring and reporting on key performance indicators
  • Identify preventive and corrective actions for identified risks and issues
  • Evaluation of change requests (to scope, schedule, budget, etc.)
  • Creation and distribution of project status reports
Common Outputs/Deliverables
  • Project change requests
  • Project status reports