Home > Articles > Software Development & Management > Management: Lifecycle, Project, Team

  • Print
  • + Share This
This chapter is from the book

WBS, Phases and Control Points, Methodologies, and Life Cycles

Many of the preceding terms are used by project managers to describe the approach that is used to define and execute a project. Each of these has been explained in many other texts and references. Since the focus of this book is using Microsoft Project, the topics are brought up here to provide context only; there is no attempt to provide the definitive use of any of the terms. Rather, the hope is that the reader can apply the concepts and techniques as appropriate when building a schedule. The work that needs to happen during a project's life does not automatically conform to a particular methodology.

Before building any schedule, the project manager must consider two key components: work decomposition (what work needs to be done, the Work Breakdown Structure or WBS) and managerial control (stages, phases, and life cycle requirements). The discipline used for either will depend on the environment in which the project is executed, so the formality will vary but both components must be considered. The tasks or activities and milestones (how the work will be accomplished) should not be defined in a project schedule until the WBS and control framework are determined. WBS will help the project manager set parameters around the scope of work to be done; the life cycle sets the controls in place for decisions during project execution. If these two components are kept in control, the project will have a much higher opportunity for success.

Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)

Step one in building a schedule is to begin with a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) that allows decomposition of the scope of the project from major components to the smallest set of deliverables, called work packages. As a best practice, this process is completed before a true schedule is built. It can be done using Microsoft Project as long as ongoing "use" rules are defined and followed to keep the WBS components intact after the project is approved and baselined.

As mentioned earlier in this chapter, PMI has developed a standard for the WBS. It is a primary component of good project management practices because it forces the discipline of scope definition and control.

For detailed information of how to build a WBS, see Chapter 4, "Getting Started After the Business Initiative Is Approved," p. 87.

If the scope of your project is managed through a WBS, all of the tasks and milestones will be created in support of specific work packages and can be rolled up through the structure for tracking progress using Earned Value Management techniques. This practice eliminates some of the common failure points in project management, such as scope creep and fuzzy requirements. All work is clearly linked to the production of a deliverable, and progress against that deliverable can be monitored.

Managerial Control

So many terms are used in the context of managerial control that a few definitions are in order. Hundreds of resources are available to provide detailed explanations; the purpose here is context only. The hope is that these simple descriptions will help the user's understanding when building a project schedule, as discussed in the following sections.

Phases and Gates

Many organizations have established processes for deciding what projects will be approved and for overseeing the projects once they have been launched. In some organizations, the processes are rigorous and robust; in others, the processes may be simple guidelines that have been put in place to help project managers. In either case, a defined set of standard phases and control points (often called gates) simplify the decisions that need to be made when running a project. In most cases, templates can be created that standardize the phases and the required control points for different types of projects.

Phases and gates can allow more management control of the project, as they break the project down into smaller components. This helps to keep executive and team focus aligned on the same set of activities. A change between phases is usually defined by some kind of transfer. In many cases, the transfer requires a formal review before the project is allowed to move into the next phase. It is not unusual, however, for phases to begin before the completion of the previous phase, especially when the risks are judged as acceptable. Each organization will make its own determination of the level of control required.

Building the phases and control points into templates is an excellent way to minimize the amount of work that needs to be done when building a new schedule. Many examples are already available in Microsoft Project, and the organization can build additional ones as needed.

For additional information on building and using templates, see Chapter 18, "Managing Project Files," on p. 581.


As organizations mature in the project management discipline, they very often adopt more formal management control systems. These systems are typically described as methodologies that include processes, rules, standards, and methods for how work will be done. In this section, we will identify a few of the ones used in specific industry segments. Each industry has its own set of methodologies, and this chapter will not attempt to identify all of them. The purpose here is to show how managing projects using Microsoft Project can be included in the methodology to assist in the enforcement and usability of the tools.

Life Cycles

Like methodologies, project life cycles are unique to the industries and disciplines in which they are used. Although all projects have a beginning and an end, they will vary greatly in how the work is accomplished. It is nearly impossible to define an ideal life cycle. Some companies and organizations use a single, standardized life cycle for every project, whereas others permit the project manager to choose the best life cycle for the project. In others, a variety of life cycles exists to accommodate different levels of complexity and different styles or types of work.

Regardless of the organization's choices regarding methodologies and life cycles, all choices can use a scheduling tool to help with project execution. The key to success in every case is that the schedule must be focused on the deliverables to be produced rather than the process. The process must be set up to assist with producing deliverables. The next section of this chapter provides several examples of methodologies and life cycles in the field of software development to illustrate how Microsoft Project can be used to enable management of a wide variety of projects.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020