Construction Project Life Cycle: An Overview

Every large construction project has a life cycle which can be compared to a biological life cycle where activities begin gradually and build rapidly as the project commences to final deliverables. When a project reaches its final days, activities taper off and slow down.

So far as life cycle models are concerned, there is no standard as each industry uses its own variations. Preferences and the name used for life cycle phases differ from industry to industry. One industry may name the first phase as the ‘concept phase’ whereas another may name it the ‘initiation phase’. Some industries use six or more life cycle phases, while others may need four life cycle phases.

No matter the number of phases in a project life-cycle model, there are many project management techniques and tools that are the same across all industries. So far as the construction industry is concerned, we can include the following phases in a project life cycle:


This phase typically deals with the development of a concept for the preferred option and finalizing the project brief. Making a detailed planning application and hiring project managers and controllers are important activities carried out in this phase. The project is handed over to the project manager after defining all the requirements and expected results. After that point, it becomes the responsibility of project controllers and managers to determine requirements and develop strategies.


The planning phase takes the concept and gives it a more practical shape by devising viable strategies to achieve project goals; the project requirements are more specifically defined and a work breakdown structure is developed. Construction estimating, scheduling, and cost management are some of the critical aspects of the planning phase. Planning is about defining an overall direction.

Design and development

This is the phase where blueprints of a project are defined. The project manager has to meet with design teams and collect all the necessary information. From communication and organization to establishing and executing work packages, design and development phase deals with a number of important activities. Additional members review and approve the design documents before the development process is started.


In the implementation phase, it becomes a challenge to reduce the gap between what is planned and what is achieved. Project controls services play a key role in the implementation phase where it is important to keep the project on track especially in terms of time, cost, and quality.


The closeout phase is one of the most important phases. The project manager faces difficulties in terms of resources because team members start leaving as previous stages are completed. Activities in this phase are sometimes not given due attention. However, this phase is critical to the overall success of a project. The prime activity in this stage is to conduct a scope review to determine whether or not everything planned has been adequately accomplished and delivered.

Life cycle management has been a vital part of construction projects which can improve the services to owners and reduce the life-cycle cost. The right implementation of project controls enable all parties to collaborate effectively and makes the holistic operation processes consistent so that a project can be delivered on time and budget.

About Specialty Plant Services (SPS)

SPS specializes in providing highly advanced techniques and tools to streamline large construction projects. We provide a complete range of project control services in Edmonton and across Canada. Contact us for more information!