The project management life cycle refers to the steps required to successfully manage a project from beginning to completion. Schmidt defines five project management life cycles: (1) predictive, (2) iterative, (3) incremental, (4) agile, and (5) hybrid.
The Predictive Life Cycle
In the predictive life cycle, the project management team determines the cost and time as early in the cycle as possible. The project management team develops the plan, then manages the plan accordingly. Any changes to the plan go through an integrated change control process (Heagney, 2016). According to Schmidt, the project management team’s ability to develop a well-detailed plan in advance of implementation allows him/her to predict the unfolding sequence of activities that will take place in each phase of the cycle.
The Iterative Project Management Life Cycle
In the iterative project management life cycle, the project life cycle is defined early in the project life cycle. However, the project management team routinely modifies cost and time based on its understanding of the project’s increase. The iterations develop the project via a series of repeated cycles (Lock, 2017). Schmidt elucidates that the reason behind the name of this project management life cycle is its repeated cycles, which are a crucial element utilized by the project management team to drive value. The iterations drive value by adding knowledge of the project hence allowing for refinement. It is worth noting that while there are also increments in this life cycle, they are features of a single deliverable per phase as opposed to clear-cut deliverables.
The Incremental Project Management Life Cycle
In the incremental project management life cycle, the deliverables are produced through a series of iterations. The repetitions add to the functionality of the project within the set time frame. Hence, it is an adaptive life cycle. Each iteration produces a component or feature to the overall deliverable. Notably, while this method leverages iterations, the increments are most important to the project as the project management team uses each increment to gather feedback. The team enhances the speed of delivery in each stage of the life cycle by planning each increment at a time. This enhances dynamism for the various aspects of the project that the team is yet to plan for and execute (Meredith, Shafer, & Mantel Jr, 2017).
Agile Project Life Cycle
While the incremental life cycle is a bit iterative and the iterative life cycle is a bit incremental, the agile life cycle is equally iterative and incremental. According to Schmidt, both are integral to the success of a project. Before the start of each iteration, the project management team must approve the increment to be produced. This approach to planning means that it is usually a regular event rather than the team addressing it upfront. The iterations are utilized to minimize the uncertainty of the requirements. The iterations are rapid, which allows the approach to address cost and risk issues as they emerge (Meredith, Shafer, & Mantel Jr, 2017). Schmidt elucidates that the agile project management life cycle is most effective in managing projects that expect high degrees of change. The project management process, therefore, requires a high degree of ongoing stakeholder involvement.
The Hybrid Project Life Cycle
Lastly, the hybrid project management life cycle approach combines aspects of both agile and predictive life cycle approaches. The project management team assigns the predictive and agile approaches to different aspects of the project depending on the requirements of the various project phases. It is up to the project management team to determine which among the two methods is most appropriate for a specific phase of the project life cycle. The team also ensures that the approaches complement each other in a fashion characterized by the flexibility to effectively and efficiently address all the aspects of the project (Lock, 2017).