"A project life cycle is the series of phases that a project passes through from its initiation to its closure." - Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBoK) (Fifth Ed.)
There are generally four main phases for any given project:
- Organizing & Preparing
- Doing the Work
|Based on a table in the PMBoK 5th Ed.|
Let's see how this might play out with our two examples.
Example 1 - Creation of a Design
- In the beginning, there's just an idea; a twinkle in the eye. Maybe a phone call, a meeting with the land owners, a walk around the property. Not much time. Not too many person hours logged. Lots of thinking, not so much doing. You might do this for free. You might not even log these hours as "billable."
- Then a period of organizing and prepping. Not a whole lot of people involved in numbers here, but your time spent on the project starts going up as you find maps, research climate, return to the property one or more times to observe & take notes & photos, think about what elements you might use in your design, choose (and maybe purchase) what tools you will use - pens, pencils, rulers, paper, fancy software, modeling clay, etc. Costs and time are rising. If you aren't logging these as "billable hours," you might not really be profitable, or you may end up with an overall pay rate of coins per hour.
- And then, the time approaches to actually create the design. A draft? or two? Double checking details. Re-reading notes. Putting pen to paper or mouse to mouse pad - the work is getting done. Maybe you are inspired or driven, but for sure there is a deadline and you are working like crazy. Confer with client - show them drafts, discuss the element, create the final Thing. This is the meat and potatoes of Design Time. And then, suddenly, you're done. Well, maybe there's still a few small touches to add, but, yes, your done.
- Winding down time. Meet with the client one last time. Put the finishing touches. Write the invoice. Deliver the design documents. Get paid. Write a Thank You note. Take a break.
- Meet the client. Walk the property. Review the client's design. Not much time. Not too many person hours logged. Lots of thinking, not so much doing. You might do this for free. You might not even log these hours as "billable."
- Then a period of organizing and prepping. On a project that includes the addition of many elements - swales and their trees, chicken tractors, roof water catchment, zone one garden, etc. - there will be an extra long organizing and prepping. Do items have time dependencies or sequences that have to be followed. When will money be available? Is it the busy season for heavy equipment? When is a good time to plant trees? Is August too late to put in a garden - or has winter just ended, and the weather looks lovely? What could happen that could throw our plans off? What if there is sand under the ground where we are planning the pong? Redoing the schedule and what has to happen to make each element appear is cheap and easy on paper. Use a lot of paper.
- And the work goes on. And in large projects, this is where unexpected things create the horrid thing called "going over budget." The equipment operator is legitimately ill, and you scramble to find another one a your backhoe is being delivered. Equipment rental company is going to charge you, even if the equipment just sits. Swale placement perfect, right there - except, bedrock, right there. But, move the swale to a different contour line, and it's beautiful! And, saved some money because found some great materials for a chicken tractor at the local swap meet for way under budget. Life is crazy. The money is draining. People are working, working, working - and the land is transforming, and what could be is becoming.
- In a large project, "shutting down" may also come in phases. Equipment operator finishes up and gets paid. Chicken tractor team finishes up. One by one, the elements are completed. And then one day all the accounts are settled, including your own, and it's time to let the land stewards begin to really get to know and nurture the land for the long haul.
Thanks for hanging in there. Hope this is helpful. Feedback appreciated!
Karla Upton is a PMP® Certified Project Manager. Certification number 2310531.