Project Definition Key Elements And Life Cycle Management Essay

The project management is considered a tool and methodology in managing the project. It plays an important role to drive the project success or failure. In Vietnam, there are some researchers focusing on key elements of project management. The project management is firstly inclusive of functions of general management. There are planning, organizing, leading and controlling (Tran V., 2011).

In this chapter, the author will firstly explore to understand the project definition, its key elements and project life cycle. The project management is implemented since the planning to the completion of the project cycle. Secondly, the author will critically review most of the previous studies in the field of project management. Based on the objectives identified in the chapter 1, the author will examine and analyse which factors of project management facing BORDA Vietnam in period of 2011 – 2013. There are three factors the researcher proposes for analysing, including leadership style, team work, and staff motivation. This is the proposed theoretical framework for the researcher to conduct the in – depth interview and collect the data for findings and discussion in chapter 4.

2.1 Project definition, key elements and life cycle

2.1.1 Project definition

The literature of project has been researched in many studies.

Mantel S. et al. (2005) state that “a project is a temporary endeavor, undertaken to create unique product or service”. It is specific, timely, usually multidisciplinary and always conflict ridden. According to the researchers, the projects are parts of overall programmes and may be broken down into tasks, subtasks and further if desired.

Gray C and Larson E (2006) express a similar definition of project. Project is a complex, no routine, one time effort limited by time, budget, resources and performance specifications designed to meet the customers’ needs. Project should not be confused with everyday work. A daily work requires doing the same or similar work over and over. The authors explain that a project is a set of activities to create something that is outside of organisation’s day – to – day operations and could be taken at all levels of organisation. A project might involve thousands of people and require more than hundred hours and include many organisational units.

According to Bregt A. (2010), the project is defined as temporary activity with starting date, specific goals and conditions, defined responsibilities, budget, plan, fixed and end date and multi – parties involved in. “when you know what you have to do, do it, once, and that’s the end of it. That is a project.”

Tran V. (2011) defines that a project is a combination of different but relevant activities in a determined logic or order aiming at the given objectives and are carried out by a certain resource within a fixed timeframe.

The project has its characteristics and they are identified according to the text book titled “Project Management Guidebook, 2004”:

Projects are temporary in nature. It should have a definite beginning and ending. A project is considered to end when the project’s objectives have been achieved or the project us discarded

Project is undertaken to create a unique product, service or result to meet a specified customer’s requirement.

Project has an approved budget and limited resources. At the beginning of a project, an amount of resource is allocated to the project.

Project entails a level of uncertainty and therefore, it carried risks.

Garry C and Larson E (2006) identify the project characteristics are:

An established objective: project have defined objectives whatever types of project and whatever product or service created.

A defined life span with a beginning and an end: Every project has a definite beginning and end. The end of a project is reached when the project objectives have been reached. Sometimes, the end comes when the project objectives will not or cannot be met. A project can last for short in duration or for several years. A beginning and an end of a project does not apply to the product or service which has been created by the project.

Usually, the involvement of several departments and professionals: project typically requires the combined efforts of a variety of specialists; therefore, each department and professional is segmented according to functional speciality. Instead of working in separate offices under separate managers, departments and professionals belonging to a variety of sectors work closely together under the guidance of project manager to achieve project goals.

Typically, doing something that has never been done before: A project is not routine, repetitive work and has some unique elements. Obviously, projects accomplish something that has never been done before. Even basic construction projects that involve the established sets of routine and procedures, each project has different owner, design, location, contractors and so on, which makes the unique. Specific time, cost and performance requirement: A project is evaluated according to scope, cost and time. These triple constraints impose a higher degree of accountability than finding in jobs. These three highlight one of the primary functions of project management, which is balancing the trade – offs between time, cost and performance while ultimately satisfying the customers.

2.1.2 Key elements of project

With respect to the elements leading to the success of project, many researchers conducted their studies for identifying the key elements which contribute to the project success. A successful project is usually illustrated through the products; services are delivered as required, on time and within approved budget (Davies C, 2002).

Previously, Atkinson (1999) has the viewpoint of the project success with three terms of scope, cost and time that have not changed yet for 50 years. These elements are considered as “Iron Triangle”. “Time” refers to the amount of time available to complete a project. “Cost” refers to the budgeted amount available for the project. “Scope” refers to what must be done to produce the project products or services.

A successful project is usually illustrated through the concept of the triple constraint – project scope, time and cost. In the article named “Managing project management”, Phillips J. (2008) calls triple constrains of project management time, cost and scope “Iron Triangle”. For a project to be successful, each side of the Iron Triangle must remain in proportion to the other sides.

Norton R. (2008) gives another part of project success except the “Iron Triangle”. He mentions that a successful project is a project to be completed within the set timeframe, under the approved budget and achieve its original goals, objectives and purposes. Every participant should be eager to repeat similar experiences.

In fact, for most projects there are limited resources and a limited time to accomplish the objectives. Project managers often talk of a “triple constrain” – project scope, time and cost – in managing competing project requirements. It is constraints that make it a project. There would be little need for project management if it is no limitation on money, resources or time. In the real world there are always constraints and it is always a need to find efficient ways to get work done faster, cheaper and better. It is said that the tighter the constraints, the greater the need for project management.

Project management is getting the job done on time, within budget, as per the specifications (Tu P., 2011). As the result, it can say that the efficiency of project management is affected by these three factors. High quality projects deliver the required product, service or result within scope, on time and within budget. The project team is put great pressure to implement the project on the approved budget, limited time from the manufacturers and pressure of competitiveness to capture the revenue and payback the outlay of capital sooner. In the process of project management, managers always desire to attain these targeted objectives.

Figure 2.1: Relationship of scope, time and cost


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The relationship among these factors is if any one of three factors changes, at least another factor is likely to be affected. There is a trade off and the work of project manager is looking for a perfect combination among objectives of project management.

Balancing the “triple constraint” (Phillip J, 2008) – project scope, time and cost is the most important work to make the management more efficient because it is the criteria to measure the quality and efficiency of the project management. The work of improving the efficiency of project management is the way to find out the method to coordinate the project management content to help the project get its target objectives in each phase of project plan.

2.1.3 Project life cycle

According to Tran V. (2011), the project is almost the same as the other sectors such as marketing, economics or construction which exist within a certain life cycle. This cycle is divided into the continuous phases from beginning, development to its end. Depending on different sectors, the life cycles have different lengths and are divided into different phases. For example, in marketing, the life cycle of the product is divided into six phases from development study, introduction of product, growth, saturation, and decline to completion. In the economic sector, the life cycle of business includes four phases from prosperity, recession and crisis to growth. It is different with the life cycle of the construction sector, which is divided into four phases such as feasibility study, design, implementation and handing-over. Therefore, in the general project management, the project life cycle is also divided into four basic phases such as formulation, planning, implementation and completion.

The definition of project life cycle will help managers clarify whether to treat the feasibility study as the first project phase or as a separate, stand alone project.

Archibald (1976) identifies four phases of the project life cycle as bellows:

Concept: initiation, identification and selection

Definition: consists of feasibility, development, demonstration, design prototype and quantification

Manufacture: implementation, production and deployment

Installation: termination and post completion evaluation

The author mentions his opinions on each subsequent phase of a new and different intermediate projects that are created with the products of one phase forming a major input to the next phase. The people, skills, organisation and other resources involved in the project change in each life cycle phase.

Patzak (1990) describes four different phases of project life cycle in his research as follows:

Phase one: definition of objectives

Phase two: designing – what and how is to be done?

Phase three: realisation – doing it

Phase four: implementation and hand over of it

Patel and Morris (1999) defines the project cycle is “the sequence of phrases through which project will evolve. It is absolutely fundamental to the management of projects.” Every project goes through a life cycle. A project is often divided into several phases to provide better management control. Each phase is generally defined what technical work should and who should be involved. Each project type or industry sector has different requirements, tasks, focus, etc. for life cycle management methodology.

In the recent years, it is well-known and widely approached in the project management with four stages of “defining, planning, executing and delivering” (Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, 2004). The text book describes the four stages of project cycle as follows:

Project defining: this is the first phase of the project cycle. In this phase, the project scope is identified including the projects objectives, goals, specifications, tasks and responsibilities. The project team is formed in this phase. The team is pointed based on their skills and experiences.

Project planning: this is the second phase of defined project cycle. This phase includes a detailed identification and assignment of each task until the end of the project. This phase should also include an analysis of risk and criteria for the successful completion of each deliverable. Project planning phase includes the financial plan, create quality, risk, acceptance, communication, procurement plan and contract the suppliers, perform a phase review.

Project executing: this is the third phase and the longest phase of the project cycle. In this phase, the most important issue is to ensure the activities that are properly executed and controlled. During the execution phase, the planned solution is implemented to solve the problem specified in the project’s requirements. This phase requires a lot of sources and energy. A range of management processes is used to monitor and control the project. These processes are used to manage time, cost, quality, change, risks, issues, procurement, customer acceptance and communication.

Project delivering: this is the last phase of the project life cycle. It closes the project and reports the project achievements in terms of defined performance measures to the project’s stakeholders. In this phase, the management board of project must ensure that the project is brought to its proper completion. The activities include handing over the deliverables to the customers, passing the documentation to the business, cancelling supplier contracts, demobilizing staffs and equipment and informing stakeholders of the closure of the project. The project team in this phase could learn the lessons for implementing project through reviewing and determining the level of success of the project.

Figure 2.2: The project life cycle

Source:, cited in

Clifford Gray and Erik Larson (2008), Project Management: The Managerial Process. New York: Mcgraw-Hill/Irwin, cited from

The project life cycle is one of the most crucial areas of the project management profession input. It can be said that the project is a foundation to entirely understand concept of the project management.

2.2 Exploring the concept of project management

2.2.1 Project management definition

Munns and Bjeirmi (1996) defined the project management as the “process of controlling the achievement of the project objectives”. In the research named “the role of project management in achieving project success”, the authors bring clearly definitions of projects and project management, identify the overlap between these terms to analyse the criteria affecting the success of project and project management. The authors finally pointed out that the project management plays an important role in the success of the project.

Lai L. (1997) examined the project management literature of “Synergism in project management for information systems development”. The research showed that project management is about the planning, organizing, directing and controlling of resources to maintain several necessary conditions of project development so that the target systems can be delivered successfully. Three conditions that are generally used to evaluate the effectiveness of project management are “performance, time and cost”.

Meanwhile, Crawford P and Bryce P (2002) in the study about “Project monitoring and evaluation: a method for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of aid project implementation” pointed out that the aid agencies are required to conform to stringent project reporting requirements in order to satisfy the wide range of stakeholders. Frequently, the information systems (IS) of the project monitoring and evaluation (M&E) help to document the process of reporting. Besides, the logical framework approach (LFA) is widely used throughout the aid industry for project design and appraisal. In the literature, many studies promote the use of LFA for the purposes of M&E. Their studies review the key limitations of the conventional LFA for M&E and proposes an extension to the LFA matrix (the ”logframe”) in order to facilitate its application beyond the design phase. The extension is that the time dimension should be added and integrated with other project management tools.

Anantatmula V and Kanungo S (2008) studied the role of Information Technology and Knowledge Management in improving project management and considered the effectiveness for project management according to the following factors:

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Goal orientation: an organization’s inclination to develop and maintain a culture of sustained focus towards project objectives and goals, which in turn target business results.

Team and coordination: an organization’s ability to foster a climate of active participation, trust, synergy, and harmony.

Measurement: an organization’s ability to define and monitor both qualitative and quantitative measures of project success such as scope, schedule, cost, and business success such as customer satisfaction.

Tran V. (2011) points out that the project management is the management all activities within a particular project. According to the author in the book of Project Management, the project management has the same functions of the general management. The functions are planning, organising, leading and controlling. These functions are generated to transfer the inputs (resources) to the outputs, achievements of the project.

Besides these literatures of project management, there are some studies conducted by MBA students in this field.

Nguyen Thi Thu Ha (EMBA5, 2008, NEU) researched the project management processes and elements of project management such as MIS system, planning, monitoring and HRM/leadership as well as the current status/weaknesses of the project management to find out the causes for improvement. This research was conducted only for project of lower secondary education development.

Nguyen Thi Nhu Quynh (EMBA 6B, 2010, NEU) focused on four major influential components including Operation, Organization, Personnel and Plan that relate to the objective of the project, project team, project planning, organization and operational activities. The study helped to analyse the relationship between these factors with the project management at Centre for Women Development (CWD).

2.2.2 Factors influencing the project management performance

Pheng L. and Chuan Q (2006) in considering the impact on the performance of project managers in the construction industry, the working environment factors are identified and ascertained in the private and public construction sector. The environment factors can be categorised into five main groups of (1) job condition related factors, (2) characteristics related factors, (3) environmental related factors, (4) personal variables related factors and (5) organisational related factors. However, the researchers focus on three main categories that are:

Job condition related variables

Characteristics related factors

Organisational related factors

In the research titled “major factors influencing productivity of water and wastewater treatment plant construction: evidence from the deep south USA”, Mojahed Sh. and Aghazadeh F. (2008) identify the main factors, including:

Skills and experience of workforce


Job planning


Material availability

In which the factor of skills and experience of workforce is considered as first factor influencing the productivity of water and wastewater treatment plant construction project in the south deep USA. The researchers compare these productivity factors among the countries such as Thailand, Canada, Iran, Indonesia and Nigeria and find out that there is similarity of factors influencing the productivity of construction projects.

Raymond L. and Bergeron F. (2008) consider the project management information system (PMIS) as the powerful software that have not only the individual impacts on the project managers on decision – making support but also the organisational impacts in terms of budget, schedule and specification on the success of projects. In this study, the researchers assess the quality of PMIS used in the organisation. The findings show that PMIS has no direct impacts on project success. The authors examine the individual impacts of PMIS on the managerial works of project managers to the project success. It shows that PMIS has positive impacts on project managers that are one key factor of project success. PMIS provides the available, reliable, precise, comprehensive and secure information to the project managers during the processes of planning, scheduling, monitoring and controlling. However, there are some limitations of this research. One of them is because of using the electronic questionnaire that is subject to the respondent bias.

One more research on the critical factors influencing the project management performance in the wastewater management sector in Bangkok, Thailand, Sujaritpong S and Nitivattananon V (2009) determined the significant factors impacting on the wastewater treatment management performance as follows:



Institutional and general aspects

These factors are examined with different types of wastewater treatment system like centralised and on-site systems in Bangkok, Thailand.

Lu W. and Yuan H. (2010) in their research named “exploring critical success factors for waste management in construction projects of China” identify seven critical factors for construction and demolition (C&D) of waste management projects as below:

Regulations on waste management

Waste management system

Awareness of construction and demolition (C&D) of waste management

Low-waste construction technologies

Fewer design changes

Research and development in waste management

Vocational training in waste management

The research has its limitation on only one region that is Shenzhen context and the above critical factors are specified for this region. These are not possibly applied for other regions without considering the regional context.

From the above literature reviews on the factors influencing the project management performance, this research will focus on three proposed burning factors, including:

Leadership style

Team working

Staff motivation Leadership style

The project manager, in broadest sense of the term, is the most important person for the success or failure of the project. The project manager is responsible for planning, organizing, leading and controlling the project (Certo Samuel and S. Trevis, 2009, p.32). In turn, the project manager receives the authority from the higher management of organisation to mobilise the necessary resources to complete a project.

The project manager must be to exert interpersonal influence in order to lead the project team.

Figure 2.3: The leadership styles


In the research titled “the relationship between project leadership, team composition and construction project performance in Nigeria”, Odusami et al. (2003) pointed out “leadership in some parts of human endeavours” and is the “important factor in successful project execution”. With four hypotheses of relationship between the project leader’s professions, qualification, leadership style and team composition and overall project performance, the analysis show that the leadership style has significant impact on project performance. The author mentions that the indentified leadership style in this research is similar with the team management that is consultative autocrat. The limitation of this research is pointed out that the project leader’s functions of planning, monitoring and control on the overall project performance are not considered.

Chen P. and Partington D. (2006) explore the conceptions of project managers’ way of experiencing the works in the construction industry. The research focus on three conceptions of:

Project management as planning and controlling: this conception demonstrates the attributes of project managers on their “ability to plan, knowledge of construction work, ability to communicate and ability to manage team”.

Project management as organising and coordinating: beside the attributes in the first conception, in this conception the project managers express their attributes on knowledge of commercial management and ability to coordinate.

Project management as predicting and managing potential problems: there are further attributes of project managers on potential risks and problems facing the project.

The effectiveness of the project management depends on many various internal and external factors. In the content of study on “project management effectiveness in project-oriented business organisation”, Hyvaeri I. (2006) investigates the terms of organisational structure, technical competency, leadership ability and characteristics of an effective project manager. The leadership here is defined as a process of influencing people (yukl G., 2002, Kotter J., 1987). The 14 leadership behaviours are pointed out in four general groups of activities such as making decisions, influencing people, building relationships and giving-seeking information.

Leadership style is researched in the relationship with empowerment and customer service in the researchnamed “patterns of empowerment and leadership style in project environment”. Nauman et al. (2010) examine the effects of virtuality on the relationship between the empowerment and leadership style. The leadership style is considered as a measure of effective project management. The findings show that the leadership can foster the empowerment. The relationships between the empowerment, engagement and satisfaction of employees with the leader are the most important factors for the effectiveness of virtuality.

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Hypothesis H1: The leadership style impacts the project management performance Team work

Melnic A. and Pupiu T. (2011) study the human resource management in the projects. Four key elements are pointed out as follows:

First stage: the organisational planning: in this stage, the roles and responsibilities assigned to the individuals and groups of person will be identified.

Second stage: staff recruiting: regarding the availability of human resources to carry out the activities of project implementation.

Third stage: team development: it is development of both individuals and teams.

Fourth stage: project staff planning: it is estimation on availability of human resources in achieving tasks.

The research shows that there are some kinds of project teams: functional team; the project (single) team; matrix structure team; contract team and the structure of a project team for achieving an agro touristic boarding house.

An investigation of the importance of team development with the project success was conducted by Zwikael O. and Aviram E. (2010) in the research titled “HRM in project groups: the effect of project duration on team development effectiveness”. The researchers investigate the areas of team development such as intercept, training, pay and reward, coordination, goal clarity, collocation and recognition and the results showed that there was no significant impact of team development on the success of project except that pay and reward and coordination areas have a positive impact on the project success but in the longer project. The longer project is defined is more than one year duration.

“Project team development is the process of improving the competencies, team interaction and the overall team environment to enhance project performance” (Zwikael O. and Aviram E., 2010). Scott – Young Ch. and Samson D. (2008) consider the project team as driver of the project success in the industry sector. There are some project team factors:

Project team design

Project team leadership

Project team processes

Project outcomes

These factors had the effects on three important capital project outcomes of cost, schedule and operability. The research shows that the strongest predictors of cost are project team efficacy, cross – functional project teams, project structure and virtual office use. The strongest predictors of schedule are project leadership, cross – functional project teams and project manager incentives. The main predictors of operability are clear project goals and design for effective communication.

There are some other researches on the team work but each literature focuses on different side of team work and its effectiveness.

Baiden B. and Price A. (2011) study the impact of the integration on teamwork effectiveness in the construction sector. The research examines the effects of different levels of integration on the various levels of teamwork effectiveness through the identified criteria:

Team identity

Shared vision


Collaboration and participation

Issue negotiation and resolution

Reflection and self – assessment

Among these criteria, communication is identified as the key impact on the effectiveness of team work and team performance in the construction industry.

The integration is concluded to be useful for improving the effectiveness of teamwork and even at different levels.

Teamwork has many different types in different sectors and context. A cross – functional team is one of these but it is built up from the same level managers of different departments in the company (Saarani C. and Bakri N., 2012). In the research titled “examining the technical and non technical member’s participation in cross – functional teams: a case study of the 2012 international (spring) conference on Asia Pacific Business innovation and technology management in Pattaya, Thailand”, the cross – functional team is assessed with the effective participation through three factors:




It concludes that according to these factors both technical and non technical members of cross – functional team are necessary at par.

From the contradictory literature on the team work (team development) of the project, team work is considered as one element of project implementation.

Hypothesis H2: The team work is a factor influencing the project management performance Staff motivation

Seiler S. et al. (2012) used the Motivational Factor Inventory as a tool to evaluate the motivators affecting the project manager’s motivation in Switzerland. There are inclusive of 6 categories of factors: (1) interpersonal interaction; (2) task; (3) general working conditions; (4) empowerment; (5) personal development and (6) compensation. The motivators are defined more important than others on the motivation of project managers listed as follows:

Interesting task

Working with cohesive, goal – oriented team

Getting necessary resources such as information, finance and workforce

Possibility to influence important decision

In the context of health sector in the rural areas of Papua New Guinea, the research on the social factor affecting the work motivation is conducted by Rasee H. et al (2012). The researchers point out that there are seven key elements of the social factor which have an effect on motivation and performance of the health workers. They are as follows:

Local community context

Gender related issues

Safety and security

Health beliefs

Attitudes of patients

Community members

The strong support of communities is identified to be the important factor influencing the motivation and performance of the health workers. This factor helps to develop the sustainable strategy for the achievement of health worker’s motivation and performance.

Toode K. et al. (2011) determine that there are five categories of factors affecting the nurses’ work motivation such as (1) work – place characteristics; (2) working conditions; (3) personal characteristics; (4) individual priorities and (5) internal psychological states. In the research, the purpose of author ai with respect to the review of the factors influencing the work motivation is to provide the comprehensive information in order to contribute to the motivation strategy.

Motivation is the concept in many studies. Besides the mentioned literature of motivation in different perspectives, Tohidi H. and Jabbari M. (2012) research on the motivating factors influencing the job satisfaction of staffs. There are six fundamental criteria and twenty one indicators used to measure which factors have a more important impact on improving the project team motivation in the project management perspective. Communication among members of project team and between employees and managers is considered as the most effective method of increasing motivation in order to meet the job satisfaction of the employees in both project and non – project organizations. Communication is one of the soft skills that the researchers mentioned and proposed to the managers paying attention to beside the financial and technical issues.

Hypothesis H3: The motivation increases the staff satisfaction of works and influences the project management performance

Chapter summary

This chapter reviews the theories of:

Project definition, project key elements and project life cycle

Project management definition

Factors influencing the project management at BORDA Vietnam: there are three key factors proposed to research such as (1) leadership style; (2) teamwork and (3) staff motivation.

There are three researched hypotheses according to three key factors influencing the project management as follows:

Hypothesis H1: The leadership style impacts the project management performance

Hypothesis H2: The team work is a factor influencing the project management performance

Hypothesis H3: The motivation increases the staff satisfaction of works and influences the project management performance

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