In project management, a project pipeline is a powerful tool that project managers use to track multiple projects from ideation to launch efficiently. It's not just a method, but a strategic approach that brings order and clarity to the complex process of managing multiple projects. A project pipeline is a hub of all the projects that the organization is presently or plans to undertake in the immediate future, providing a comprehensive view of the project landscape.

A project pipeline is usually made up of ‘related’ projects. An example could be a subdivision of 20+ houses. Preparing the infrastructure could be an individual project, and each house construction could be a separate project. In some cities, the support services of a community must be included in a subdivision proposal. This means that gas stations, grocery stores, and, depending on the size of the subdivision, school buildings may be required as deliverables. 

Each of these deliverables in the overall subdivision project, project pipeline, or project portfolio is related. The execution of each project will impact the next project. Some resources will be shared. For example, as a carpentry subcontractor nears the finish of the framing on one house, the contractor can start framing the next house, assuming the foundation work is completed and staying ahead of the carpenters. 

Another example of a project pipeline is a manufacturing production line where the equipment is supplied by different manufacturers. Each supplier will provide a project plan and schedule, and the owner’s project lead or manager must roll these schedules into one master schedule. A critical path schedule should also be developed. 

Let's dig into the contrast between project pipeline theory and traditional project planning. A few years back, the master schedule manager was juggling over 3000 tasks, ranging from equipment relocation to software updates, distribution logistics, and resource management across multiple sites. In hindsight, treating these as separate projects could have been more manageable. However, each area was not governed by a project plan or work breakdown structure. Only tasks deemed critical were monitored, yet there was a collective hope for a more integrated approach. 

Project Phases - Classic 

Initiation phase 

We do not want to start a project without understanding its objective and the concept of achieving that objective. This will require a clear identification of the need or opportunity and the project approach at a high level.   

Ultimately, we will conduct a feasibility study or initial analysis to determine the viability of our proposed project approach and the probability of successfully achieving those objectives. To set the scope and determine feasibility, we will need to identify the project stakeholders and their respective expectations. The result of this exploration will evoke conflicting interests and objectives that will impact the project strategy and tactics. 

The result of the project initiation phase will be some project documentation of the objective, the strategy, estimates of costs for the project, identification of key players, and other attributes the organization believes to be beneficial.  The executives and project sponsors then typically review this document to decide whether the opportunity truly exists and whether the project has a reasonable probability of success.  This review is more than just the documentation review but will also include key proposed project team members to answer questions and perhaps adapt the plan to input. 

Planning phase 

The Planning Phase is where the project's foundation is meticulously laid out, ensuring every aspect is accounted for and organized. This phase begins with the creation of a comprehensive project management plan. This plan is the project's blueprint, detailing the scope, schedule, cost, quality, resources, communication, risk, and procurement. Each element is carefully defined to guide the project from start to finish, ensuring that all team members understand their roles and responsibilities. 

A crucial part of the planning phase is developing the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS). The WBS decomposes the project into smaller, more manageable components, making it easier to assign tasks, manage workloads, and monitor progress. By breaking down the project into these digestible parts, project managers can ensure that each team member clearly understands their specific tasks and how they contribute to the overall project goals. 

Following the WBS, the project schedule is developed. This involves creating a detailed timeline that includes all key milestones and deadlines. The schedule is a roadmap, providing a clear path from project initiation to completion. It ensures that all tasks are completed promptly and helps to keep the project on track. 

Resource planning is another critical aspect of the Planning Phase. This involves identifying and allocating the necessary resources, including personnel, equipment, and budget. Effective resource planning ensures that the project has the right people and tools to achieve its objectives without unnecessary delays or budget overruns. 

Risk management is also a key component of the planning process. This involves identifying potential risks that could impact the project and developing strategies to mitigate these risks. Project managers can proactively address potential issues and prevent minor problems from escalating into major setbacks. 

Lastly, the communication plan is established to ensure effective information flow among stakeholders. This plan outlines how information will be shared, the frequency of updates, and the methods of communication. Clear and consistent communication is vital for maintaining stakeholder engagement and ensuring everyone is aligned with the project's goals and progress. 

The Planning Phase sets the stage for a successful project, providing a detailed roadmap and ensuring all necessary elements are in place before moving forward. With a solid plan, project teams can confidently navigate the challenges ahead, knowing they have a clear path to success. 

Execution phase 

The Execution Phase is where the project plan is implemented, transforming carefully laid plans into tangible results. This phase begins with team building, an essential step where the project team is assembled and oriented. Ensuring that each member understands their roles, responsibilities, and the project’s objectives lays the foundation for a cohesive and effective team. 

Once the team is in place, the focus shifts to task assignment. Here, tasks are allocated to team members based on the detailed project plan. This strategic distribution ensures that each task is handled by the most qualified individuals, optimizing the team's overall performance and efficiency. 

With the team ready and the tasks assigned, the project implementation stage kicks off. This involves executing the project plan, where tasks are performed, and deliverables are produced. The project starts to take shape as each task is completed, bringing it closer to its goals. 

Throughout this phase, maintaining high standards is crucial. This is where quality assurance comes into play. Continuous monitoring ensures that all project deliverables meet the predefined quality standards. Regular quality checks and reviews help identify and rectify any deviations from these standards, ensuring the final output is of the highest quality. 

Progress monitoring is essential to keeping the project on track. The project manager can track the team's progress against the project plan using status reports and performance metrics. This ongoing assessment allows for timely adjustments and ensures the project remains aligned with its objectives and timeline. 

Finally, effective stakeholder communication is vital for the project's success. Keeping stakeholders informed through regular updates and meetings fosters transparency and trust. This ongoing dialogue ensures that stakeholders know the project's progress, any issues, and the steps to address them. It also allows for feedback and input, which can be crucial for the project's success. 

In summary, the Execution Phase is where meticulous planning meets action. By building a solid team, assigning tasks strategically, implementing the project plan, ensuring quality, monitoring progress, and maintaining clear communication with stakeholders, the project moves steadily toward its successful completion. 

Monitoring and control phase 

In project management, the Monitoring and Controlling phase serves as the project’s navigational compass, ensuring it remains on course toward its objectives. This phase is critical for maintaining control over the project’s trajectory and involves several key activities that safeguard the project's success. 

Performance Measurement lies at the heart of this phase. Project managers can gauge the project's performance by employing key performance indicators (KPIs) and various metrics. These indicators provide quantifiable data that reflects the project’s progress, enabling managers to make informed decisions based on objective evidence. 

Variance analysis goes hand in hand with performance measurement. This process involves comparing the project’s performance against the project plan to pinpoint deviations. Identifying these variances early allows for timely corrective actions, preventing minor issues from escalating into significant problems. 

Another cornerstone of this phase is effectively managing changes executed through a robust change control process. Any alterations to the project’s scope, schedule, or costs are carefully evaluated and managed to ensure they do not derail the project. This formal process ensures that changes are systematically reviewed, approved, and documented, maintaining the project’s integrity and alignment with its objectives. 

Risk management is ongoing throughout the project lifecycle, but it becomes particularly crucial during the Monitoring and Controlling phase. Project managers continuously monitor potential risks, updating the risk management plan as new or existing threats evolve. Proactive risk management helps mitigate negative impacts and seize opportunities that may arise. 

Quality control focuses on ensuring that project deliverables meet the desired standards. This involves continuously monitoring project outputs to verify that they adhere to predefined quality criteria. Project teams can deliver outputs that meet or exceed stakeholder expectations through rigorous quality control processes. 

Lastly, the phase addresses issue resolution, a critical activity involving promptly identifying and resolving project-related issues. By tackling problems as soon as they surface, project managers can keep the project on track and prevent disruptions that could impede progress. 

These activities within the Monitoring and Controlling phase collectively form a cohesive system that guides the project toward its completion, ensuring that it meets its goals while adhering to established constraints. This phase is essential for maintaining the project’s health, delivering high-quality results, and achieving stakeholder satisfaction. 

Closure phase 

The Closure Phase marks the culmination of all project efforts, ensuring that every aspect of the project has been thoroughly addressed. To begin, it is crucial to ensure that all project activities are completed and deliverables are accepted by the stakeholders. This step confirms that the project's objectives have been met and that the final outputs align with stakeholder expectations. 

Once the project deliverables are accepted, the focus shifts to compiling and finalizing all project documentation. This includes collecting all reports, records, and pertinent information throughout the project. Special attention is given to documenting lessons learned, as these insights are invaluable for future projects. Finalizing this documentation ensures a comprehensive archive that can be referenced later. 

The next critical step is conducting a final review with stakeholders. This review session is a chance to obtain formal acceptance of the project. Stakeholders are presented with the project outcomes, and their feedback is solicited to ensure all aspects of the project meet their satisfaction. 

Following stakeholder approval, a thorough post-project evaluation is conducted. This evaluation measures the project's success against the initial objectives and key performance metrics. It involves analyzing various aspects of the project to determine what worked well and could be improved. 

Documenting lessons learned is an integral part of the closure phase. This process involves capturing best practices and any obstacles encountered during the project. These documented lessons are valuable for guiding future projects, helping teams avoid past mistakes and replicate successful strategies. 

Finally, the project closeout involves formally closing the project. This includes releasing project resources, such as team members and equipment, and ensuring that all contractual obligations have been met. A project debrief is conducted with the team to discuss the project's outcomes and gather their perspectives on its successes and challenges. This debrief helps solidify the lessons learned and provides closure for the project team. 

Gate Reviews 

In project management, the gate review stands as a critical juncture, a moment of reflection and decision that dictates the future course of any venture. Much like Janus, the ancient Roman god of beginnings, transitions, and endings, a gate review embodies dual perspectives—looking back to assess completed work and forward to plan for upcoming phases. 

As project teams approach these pivotal reviews, they confront a series of gateways, each serving as a portal to the next stage of development. The spirit of Janus is palpable in these sessions, symbolizing the wisdom of balancing hindsight with foresight. This dual gaze is not merely symbolic but a practical tool in navigating the complexities of modern projects. 

Each gate, meticulously positioned at strategic points in the project’s lifecycle, demands a rigorous evaluation of key deliverables, performance metrics, and compliance with predefined criteria. The process is both a checkpoint and a steppingstone, ensuring that each phase builds solidly on the foundation of the previous one and aligns seamlessly with the project's overarching goals. 

Janus's wisdom teaches us that gate reviews are not just procedural formalities but opportunities for transformative decisions. They offer a chance to pause, reflect, celebrate achievements, and candidly address shortcomings. Doing so ensures the path forward is clear and the team is prepared for the challenges. 

As project managers orchestrate these reviews, they wield the keys to past insights and future advancements. They stand at the threshold, as Janus did, guarding the past's lessons and the future’s possibilities, ensuring that the project advances with the clarity and purpose that only such reflective moments can provide. 


The project management office or department works closely with senior management to ensure all projects align with the business strategy; this is sometimes reviewed annually. This review establishes what projects/business cases will proceed or at least attempt in the coming year. In addition, there may be projects that require multi-year execution. All those approved to proceed should be in the pipeline. Also, know that other projects may develop during the year or because of another project. Those new projects must be included in the pipeline depending on scheduling and resources.  This will disperse the amount of talent and resources across a larger number of projects and must be done in a controlled manner, not inadvertently to sabotage the existing projects.  The bottom line of project management is to follow the standardized processes.