Project Delivery Life-Cycle – Contextualizing Your Delivery Methodology to Fit Your Company Culture

Project Delivery Life-Cycle, Project Management Methodology (PMM), PMI’s Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), Process and Templates.  PMO’s go to great lengths to have a structured methodology for how they manage the successful delivery of projects in their organizations.  There are a variety of ways to define and describe the way your organizations lead projects to a successful completion.  Personally, I am fond of the description of Project Delivery Life-Cycle.  I believe this is an accurate description of what I am trying to express when I discuss or present this topic to any level in the organization I am engaged with.

For any organization, and any Project Manager that has gone to the efforts to get their Project Management Institute – Project Management Professional (PMI-PMP) certification, then the PMBOK becomes your primary reference point for how you manage projects, but let’s be honest, if you try to follow every process within the PMBOK standard, on every project you lead, without the basic application of a Project Manager’s discretion, you will tend to over manage and possibly fail on a variety of your projects.  Don’t misunderstand me, I have multiple copies of the PMBOK from over the years, and I believe it to be the standard for the establishment of your Project Delivery Life-Cycle for managing projects, but I believe it is necessary to contextualize your standards to fit the environment that you are working within.  That is the basis for a unique Project Delivery Life-Cycle to be developed for each PMO implementation you are engaged in.

To successfully implement your Project Management Organization (PMO), and successfully deliver projects within your organization, you need to take the time to understand your organizational needs, your average project portfolio, and the type of projects that you are accountable for delivering on a consistent basis.  Once you understand the foundational aspects of your average project portfolio, you can begin the development of your Project Delivery Life-Cycle, in a custom, contextualized format that is specific to your organizational needs.

The example below is a contextualized Project Delivery Life-Cycle (PDLC), based on a more waterfall-based methodology, that was designed for an IT PMO, in a state of early maturity and strong support from a VP level Governance Body.   This organization has a project portfolio of less than 30 projects, and a PMO staffed with a group of Project Managers and Business Analysts with a wide variety of skills and backgrounds.  With a majority of the Project Portfolio consisting of projects in the small to medium-size range and complexity scale, the goal of this PDLC was to bring a reasonable level of process, tempered with a high degree of Project Manager discretion in the implementation and usage of the methodology on a project by project basis.  Providing a high degree of trust in your PM’s is critical in a smaller PMO structure.

In this scenario, Agile is not part of the project delivery process within the PMO.  As the organization continues to mature, we will formalize the integration of the Agile methodology, and develop a PDLC structured specifically around the implementation of Agile.

Another process theory applied in this PDLC is the concept of “Progressive Elaboration”.  The goal of progressive elaboration is to consciously and intentionally design the process and template structures to be fed by or to feed the processes before and after it.  For example, the “Project Sponsor Interview” process is an intentional elaboration of the Project Intake Request process and templates.  By taking the output of the Project Intake Process as the initial foundational information you then begin the progressive elaboration of the information during the Project Sponsor Interview.  The process and templates for the Project Sponsor Interview have been intentionally designed around expanding on the minimum acceptable information presented to the Governing Body for approval as part of the Project Intake Process.  This intentional design effort to elaborate on the information then feeds the Project Kick-Off Meeting deck and preparation.  This continues through all process and template designs that were done specifically for this engagement through the final project completion survey.  By engaging the PMO team in the actual development, as well as the continued reinforcement on the concepts of “Progressive Elaboration” in the development of the Project Delivery Life-Cycle, we also have increased the interaction between the members of the team and shown growth and improvement in our team dynamic.


By maintaining the integrity of the intentions of the methodology definitions within the PMI Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK), but allowing for contextualization and individual discretion in the application of the methodology by the project leaders within your organization you have the ability to provide for a balanced approach to Project Management, as well as a more successful organizational structure within your PMO, as your teams use the Project Delivery Life-Cycle to drive projects to a successful completion.


Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.

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Don Clarke

Don Clarke

Co-Founder: Project Management for Today

As a Co-Founder of the website, Don Clarke has over 20  years of experience in the Project Management / Program Management space.  Having worked for a variety of companies over the last 20 years, he brings a strong base of knowledge in the industry.  Establishing or helping redefine multiple PMO's during this time, there is a unique perspective to his approach to developing the value of a Project Management Office (PMO), as well as his approach to leadership development within the organization.  Having been privileged to have multiple career defining mentoring experiences, Don realizes the importance of sharing that experience and giving back to the organizations where he is engaged.


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