What is the IPECC Model? 5 Phases Explained


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Understanding the process groups of projects is a foundational component of project management. The Project Manager’s Book of Knowledge introduces that IPECC model — a commonly understood acronym project management professionals use to outline and define the key process groups within a project: initiation, planning, executing, controlling, and closing.

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Defining the IPECC Model

Ipecc model flow.
Example of how the IPECC model flows as the project life cycle progresses.

Initiation: Focus on the “Why?”

During the initiation phase of the IPECC model, teams are focused on the why” of the project, rather than the “how.” This phase helps establish the business case for the project and is frequently accompanied by a project proposal. This persuasive document provides stakeholders with general information about what a proposed project intends to accomplish, what goals are set, and what the project scope will be to obtain stakeholder signoff to initiate the project.

The initiation phase is marked by discussion, collaboration, and negotiation between stakeholders. Kick-off meetings are common during this part of the project lifecycle to help build project awareness and familiarize stakeholders and team members with one another. At the end of this phase, the project manager should have a decent idea of what plans, such as project scope and goals, will be solidified during the official planning phase.

Read more: Exploring the Initiation Phase of Projects

Planning: More than Just Scheduling

Once the project has been officially initiated, it’s time to solidify the early plans that were discussed in the previous phase. This phase is integral to the success of the project, as it establishes the foundation for the success (or failure) of the project. As the saying goes, failing to plan is planning to fail—and the sentiment holds true in project management.

During the project planning phase, a project charter is created, built upon the information established in the project proposal. The project charter serves as the home base for project procedures and information, providing detailed information about project scope, stakeholders, deliverables, and more.

Now is the time for teams to consider not just what plans are made, but how work itself will be carried out. Will you use project management software to help manage work and deadlines? When and how will team members check in? What tasks will each team member be responsible for and when? What potential risks or roadblocks might exist?

Read more: What is a Project Charter?

Executing: Deliver Action and Value

The execution phase of the project lifecycle is where the rubber meets the road. Once all the plans have been solidified, it’s time for the project team to begin work. While this portion of the lifecycle can be extremely intimidating for some teams, the better prepared you are, the smoother the transition into this phase will be.

In this phase, team members must have the resources they need to succeed in execution, including clear communication, clearly defined roles, standard operating procedures, and more.

Read more: Exploring the Execution Phase of Projects

Controlling: Moving in the Right Direction

Once teams have reached the controlling phase of the project, ideally, work is relatively stable and the project manager can continue monitoring and coaching the team. By this point, the project team should be moving efficiently through project work with a clear understanding of KPIs and expectations. However, this might not always be the case.

For teams that are experiencing a high level of uncertainty, such as in Agile projects or unpredictable industries like construction, the controlling phase can be challenging as it’s often when roadblocks and challenges appear. Keeping projects on time, on budget, and performing well is the goal. But if hiccups are happening, now is the time to take corrective action and ensure that the team can finish strong.

Read more: Exploring the Controlling and Monitoring Phase of Projects

Closing: Finalizing Details and Delivery

The closing phase is the final phase of the project lifecycle. During this phase, final deliverables are handed over, project work concludes, and the team hosts a final meeting (in Agile teams called a retrospective or sprint review). Throughout the closing phase, it’s paramount that teams reflect on what went well and what could have been improved throughout the project lifecycle.

Reflection on the wins and losses that happened during the project helps reward teams for great work and prevent recurring issues in future projects. Organizations with a project management office should keep those records for future reference.

Read more: Exploring the Closing Phase of Projects

Bottom Line: IPECC Model

The IPECC framework is an essential component for project teams to operate effectively. When combined with an understanding of project phases and other key concepts, project teams are well-positioned for success in project management.


The IPECC model helps project managers and teams break down the project lifecycle into less intimidating portions to better understand the significance and expectations that come with each phase. Understanding how each phase relates to a successful project overall makes it easier to approach projects with the tools, resources, and documentation required to maximize the odds of a successful project.

Read more: What is Project Management? Definition, Types & Examples

While IPECC process groups and project phases are extremely similar, the IPECC process groups relate specifically to tasks that need to be completed throughout the project lifecycle, not just periods of time, as the project phases model refers to.

Read more: What is a RACI Matrix?

Throughout the entirety of a project, teams need to rely on tools and resources to streamline workflows, collaborate, and stay organized. Project management software is perhaps the most impactful tool that teams can rely on to foster successful projects.

Interested in learning more about project management software and finding the right fit for your team?

Read more: Our Top 10 Project Management Software Buyer’s Guide

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