The project cycle consists of four stages: 1) assessment and planning, 2) implementation and monitoring, 3) evaluation, and 4) adaptation. Each stage has its own characteristics and requires specific knowledge and skills.

The Project Cycle – an overview


The assessment phase is sometimes also called the identification phase, as in this period the “why?” of the project is theimportant question to ask. In this stage the real problems and issues that need to be addressed, are identified.

The assessment phase is followed by a planning phase in which goals and objectives are defined and the feasibility of the project is carefully researched. Then an action plan is made, resources are determined and the use of the resources is planned. At this stage it is already important to think about and identify indicators to be used to monitor and to evaluate the project.

In the implementation phase, during which the project is actually carried out, continuous monitoring needs to take place, in order to watch whether the project is on the right track, is meeting its objectives and is using its resources as planned.

During the evaluation phase the project is measured against its objectives, both to see if objectives have been met, but also to see how this was done and what the impact of the project is. In other words what changes have occurred as a result of project activities?

On the basis of the evaluation, adaptation of the project can take place and lessons learnt can be identified and used for future planning.

The project cycle is a continuously ongoing one; after evaluation and adaptation, the planning starts again, followed by implementation etc.

Project Cycle Management (PCM)

Project cycle management is the term given to the process of planning and managing projects, programmes and organisations. In order to make development projects successful, good planning is needed. Some important factors need to be taken into account, in particular the needs and views of stakeholders. “Stakeholders” is the word currently used for everybody with an interest in the project.  Stakeholders may include clients, target groups, beneficiaries – the people who, it is hoped, will be helped by the project, but may also include local leaders, the community, NGO workers, and donors. So to focus on the group helped, the phrase “Primary Stakeholders” is used in this document.

PCM ensures that all aspects of projects are considered. Each part of the project cycle is considered in the management process and changes in all parts are noticed and taken into account for future project planning and design. This way of working could contribute to the success and sustainability of the project.

» Read more about the project cycle and its management in our manual folder Managing the Project Cycle .