What Is the IT Project Lifecycle?

By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
May 12 2023 read

As the complexity of IT projects has increased over the past several years, sourcing good IT project management has become a priority for busy organizations. Project management teams need to work quickly and accurately to deliver on goals that are often quite ambitious. 

What Is IT Project Management?

IT project management is the oversight of the many processes involved in various IT project phases. Common IT projects include cyber security initiatives, software upgrades and changes to network infrastructure. Small projects may take only a few weeks to complete, while larger projects can take months or even years.

IT project managers create and monitor project plans, assign duties and roles to team members and generally work to keep projects on deadline. Good IT project management is also critical because hiccups and changes can suddenly occur frequently in this industry. With a consistent and reliable project management lifecycle, you'll solve problems quickly and efficiently. 

What Is the IT Project Lifecycle?

The IT project lifecycle is the standard path of an IT project. It usually consists of the following five phases:

  1. Identification
  2. Initiation
  3. Planning
  4. Delivery
  5. Closeout

Some project team members will be involved at every stage, while others will be involved more sporadically. Project managers make sure every phase involves the right people and tools. Identifying these key roles is a crucial component of successful IT projects.

Phase 1: Identification

The identification phase is where IT projects are born. At this starting point, project sponsors evaluate a potential project or proposal initiated within an organization or from a client. 

A project sponsor is the person or group that provides the financial resources for the project, according to the Project Management Book of Knowledge. Sometimes, the project sponsor is the organization requesting a project. Other times, IT projects are proposed to third-party sponsors like universities and large enterprises.

Sponsors play a vital role in project management. They champion the project from start to finish, help to develop the initial scope, authorize changes to the project plan and give the final approval, among other key tasks. 

During the identification phase, sponsors review the basic information about a project, including:

  • Description of the issue the project is meant to address
  • Goals
  • Cost estimates
  • Time frame, including midpoint goals
  • Major risks 

After this first phase is approved, the project is initiated. 

Phase 2: Initiation

The initiation phase is when a project begins to transform from an idea to an actionable plan. Here, project details become more defined, giving the team valuable insight into the resources that will be required. A project manager is assigned, and they begin to flesh out more details, including the project’s scope

A project manager’s primary goal during the initiation phase is to create a project charter. This important document provides a high-level framework, which:

  • Determines the rationale for the project
  • Identifies primary stakeholders
  • Defines a timeline
  • Outlines core project deliverables, potential risks and assumptions 

Once the charter is approved by the sponsor, the project moves into the planning phase.  

Phase 3: Planning

The best projects rely on robust planning efforts. During the planning phase, the information collected in the initiation phase is applied to an actionable plan. 

IT project managers work to ensure the plan will allow the project to be completed in the proposed time frame and that costs will not exceed the budget. Ideally, project plans anticipate specific issues and provide mitigation solutions. However, project managers usually build in time to address the unexpected, should the need arise. 

The sponsor then reviews the project plan is complete and, hopefully, gives it a thumbs up. 

Phase 4: Delivery

Next, the project team creates the deliverables as outlined in the initiation phase. The delivery phase typically includes two key sub-phases that take place at the same time: 1) Execution and 2) Monitoring and Reporting.

This sub-phase is where things really get rolling. The project team works through the tasks that were detailed in the project plan to develop the project deliverables. The execution sub-phase is complete when the project deliverables are accepted by the users and the sponsor. 

Monitoring and Reporting
During this sub-phase, which occurs concurrently with the execution sub-phase, project managers track and report on the project’s progress. Reports include information about project status, ongoing issues, requested changes and other tasks related to executing the project plan. 

Phase 5: Closeout

After the dust has settled and the deliverables are in the hands of the stakeholder(s) who requested the project, it’s time for the closeout phase. At this final stage, projects are marked complete in project management software, reports are filed away and the team completes other housekeeping tasks aimed at putting the project to bed. 

Once the project is delivered, the team evaluates its performance. Teams often seek to identify areas of improvement for future projects and identify information and documentation that could be repurposed.

Take control of the stages of project management for your IT business. Read how others in your industry have done so with Accelo.


About the Author


Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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