Project Management Lifecycle

The Project Management Lifecycle (PMLC) is a project governance model used for project initiation, planning and execution at the George Washington University.


The Project Management Lifecycle (PMLC) is a project governance model used for project initiation, planning and execution at the George Washington University. PMLC offers a clearly defined process for how to take a project from idea stage through closing, while using project management principles that clarify expectations, streamline communications, and ensure thoroughness in planning and execution.

PMLC was developed in 2009 as a joint effort between GW's Division of Information Technology and Finance Division. Purposed to drive standardization of methodology, documentation, reporting and approval across GW organizations, PMLC also enables clear ownership and empowerment of project leadership. At GW, PMLC is used for any complex cross-functional initiative that requires the use of a trained project manager for a division- and/or university-wide technology initiative.

Benefits to using PMLC during project management include:

  • Clearly defined roles, requirements and responsibilities, which allow for greater ownership, buy-in, coordination and efficiency of process
  • Clear communication with project sponsors, project owners and project team
  • Standardized methodology and templates that allow for clear expectations and more streamlined training and process

When to Use

As a general rule, any effort that is considered a “project” should follow PMLC unless otherwise specified by senior management.

Within the Division of IT, anything that meets the following criteria must follow PMLC:

  • A project that involves external customers, vendors, and/or multiple internal DIT teams
  • A project that is complex and/or high priority

Most projects will require some but not all PMLC processes and artifacts. The minimum for all PMLC projects is as follows:

  • Idea Document (DIT) and/or Proposal/Charter (Finance)
  • Idea/Proposal Phase Gate Review
  • An accountable project manager or functional manager
  • A project schedule that is built and kept current by the accountable project manager or functional manager

The project/functional manager should determine the applicable processes and artifacts (beyond the minimum) and propose that to the project sponsor and Phase Gate Review Board for approval.


  • Concept/idea: Short evaluation of request to determine 1) if resources should be expended to pursue and 2) if it is actually a project versus an operational request
  • Proposal: Detailed business case, solution description and comparison of alternatives; includes business requirements, estimated resource requirements and funding requirements.
  • Planning, analysis and design: Charter approval, project kickoff, schedule development and project planning
  • Development: Begin solution/change development and plan for testing, readiness and deployment.
  • Testing and readiness: Test solution/changes in controlled environment; begin readiness activities for go‐live of solution; go-live
  • Cutover/post-go-live: Monitor implementation of the solution/changes for a predetermined period
  • Closing: Review lessons learned; formally transition the solution/changes to permanent owner; release project tea