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Project Discovery

Is Your Idea or Initiative a “Project”?

A member of our PMO team will meet with you for a "Discovery" meeting to make sure your idea or initiative fits the definition of a project. To request a consultation, submit a request.

We also invite you to learn more by reading through the material on this page to better acquaint yourself with common project attributes and the typical project lifecycle.

Things to Consider

  • Does it align with UC Merced Strategic Vision? [Visioning & change Alignment Map]
  • Who does it benefit, and how? (Examples: Advantages from cost savings, demonstrable student outcomes, research or business productivity, business process improvement, or revenue opportunities. Benefits should be specific and measurable.)  
  • Do you have a primary sponsor?
  • How broadly will this effort impact the university community as a whole or specific constituents?.

Areas that Require IT Expertise

  • Single Sign-On
  • Data Integration
  • Data Reporting (Cognos)
  • Security Review & Assessment

For more information about the way that PMO can help you deliver your desired outcomes, please refer to our Services page.

Project Life Cycle

The PMO has aligned its project management methodologies with the Project Management Institute (PMI).  By applying knowlege and experience with these practices, PMO staff help increase the opportunity for project success.  The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) divides projects into five phases. These phases represent the path a project takes from the beginning to its end and are generally referred to as the project “life cycle."  

The  Project Management Life Cycle  has five phases (inclusive of Phase 0, Discovery):  Initiation,  Planning,  Execution,  Monitoring and Controlling, and  Closure. Each  project life cycle  phase is described below.

Phase 0: Discovery 

Discovery is just that - pre-project communication between you and the PMO team to understand your needs and how we can help. A member of our PMO team will meet with you for a "Discovery" meeting to make sure your idea or initiative fits the definition of a project.

Phase 1: Initiating 

Initiation is the first phase of the project lifecycle. This is the start of the project, and the goal of this phase is to define the project at a high level (30,000 feet). This phase usually begins with the definition of a Project Charter.  The document is perhaps the most important document in project management. It provides a preliminary outline of the project’s scope and objectives, identifies the participants in a project (referred to as the project’s stakeholders), and defines their roles and responsibilities. The project charter also serves as a formal written and signed agreement between the project’s stakeholders regarding the details of the project.

Phase 2: Planning 

This phase is key to successful project management and focuses on developing a roadmap that everyone will follow.  This is where project manager will lay out every detail of the plan from beginning to end. The created plan will lead a team through the execution, monitoring and control, and closure phases of the project management process.

The project plan also prepares teams for the obstacles they might encounter over the course of the project, and helps them understand the cost, scope, and timeframe of the project.

Phase 3: Executing 

With a clear definition of the project and a suite of detailed project plans,this project phase is the one where the team gets off and running!  Execution  is when the actual work is done. You’ll find teams collaborating, reviewing work, presenting to stakeholders, and revising. 

This often feels like the meat of the project—a lot is happening during this time like status reports and meetings, development updates, and performance reports. Execution relies heavily on the planning phase. The work and efforts of the team during the execution phase are derived from the project plan.

Phase 4: Monitoring and Controlling 

This phase is all about making sure the project runs smoothly and ensuring things go according to plan. As teams execute their project plan, they must constantly monitor their own progress. To guarantee delivery of what was promised, teams must monitor quality of deliverables, calculate key performance indicators and track variations from allotted cost and time. This constant vigilance helps keep the project moving ahead smoothly.

Phase 5: Closing 

When your project is complete and everyone is happy with what’s been delivered, tested, and released, it’s time to wrap up. In the project closure phase, the team will complete the steps needed to close tasks, hand off the project to stakeholders, finalize any reporting, and celebrate the project. 

This vital step in the project lifecycle also allows the team to evaluate and document what went well in a project and identify project failures. This is especially helpful to understand lessons learned so that improvements can be made for future projects. The PMO uses these informed successes and improvements to build stronger processes and more successful teams.