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How a Project Works

The concept of ITS projects and project management may seem a little foreign to university faculty and staff.   We've created this page to identify the phases you'll go through when you request a project, including some of the project management terminology used.

What Happens During the Project Management Cycle

The Project Management Life Cycle (PMLC) is a series of phases that a project passes through from identification to closeout. The PMO utilizes this life cycle for each project.

Step 1: Identification

identification phase of pmlc

The goal of the Identification Phase is to ensure that the projects in an organization's portfolio are aligned with its strategic goals and to control and prioritize projects coming into an organization.

While the Project Manager generally has limited involvement in this phase, this process must be in place in order to have effective project management within an organization.

ITS prioritizes and reviews all project requests on a monthly basis, on the first Wednesday of each month. This enables us to complete an appreciable amount of work between reviews, thus facilitating more accurate time and resource estimates.

If your project requires an earlier review due to mandated time sensitivity, security/safety issues, or criticality to university missions, please contact Project Manager Vikki Massey at or (901) 448-8040.


Action Items Major Output
Receive project requests Prioritization score and category
Score and categorize requests  
Determine project type  
Estimate start date  
Step 2: Initiation

initiation phase of pmlc

The purpose of the Initiation Phase is to develop the Project Charter to formalize project goals and deliverables, identify project participants, and establish roles and responsibilities.


Action Items Major Output
Provide high-level project overview Project charter
Identify project manager  
Get sponsor/champion sign-off  
Identify stakeholders  
Step 3: Planning

planning phase of pmlc

The Planning Phase is critical to a project’s success. A well thought-out project plan provides clear direction and understanding of team member’s contributions to the success of the project.   

The planning phase answers the following questions:

  • How will the work be accomplished? 
  • Who will perform the work? 
  • What, exactly, is the work to be done? 
  • When will the work be done?

In the Planning Phase, the Project Manager and project leads work with the team to create the Communication Plan, the initial Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), and Project Schedule which includes tasks, time, resources, and effort estimates for the project.  The Project Schedule is progressively elaborated until all relevant areas of the chartered project have been addressed. 


  • Identify and analyze stakeholders (worksheet)
  • Start requirements gathering (template)
  • Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) (template)
Action Items Major Output
Collect requirements Project plan
Finalize scope  
Document project team members and roles/responsibilities  
Create work breakdown structure  
Create work schedule  
Create communication plan  
Establish change control process  
Step 4: Execution and Control

execution phase of the pmlc

The executing and monitoring phases of the project management lifecycle consists of completing and managing the work required to meet the project objectives. This phase also ensures that the project performance is monitored and adjustments to the project schedule are made as needed.


  • Track and manage issues, decisions, risks, and changes (template)
  • Execution and monitoring review (template)
Action Item Major Output
Perform the work Completed deliverables
Measure the work  Change requests
Manage the work  
Compare planned vs. actual  
Take corrective or preventive action  
Step 5: Closeout

Customer submits request, committee prioritizes request, its directors categorize it, determine if it is a project or task

The purpose of the Closeout Phase is to confirm completion of project deliverables to the satisfaction of the project sponsor, and to communicate final project disposition and status to all participants and stakeholders. The project closure period also reviews the successes and challenges of the project for future reference.


Action Item Major Output
Formally accept final product Project review and acceptance
Transition product to operations  Lessons learned
Collect lessons learned  
Release project team  
Archive project documents  
May 26, 2022