Business, Columns

Back To Work: The Project Lifecycle, Step By Step

Office, Back to Work, Project Lifecycle

This is Part 1 of a series.

The new year is well underway, President Biden and Vice President Harris have been sworn in, and there are high hopes for things to turn around. Recently, I was thinking about how my children, who are all attending classes remotely, have not been in a physical school classroom for 11 months. For the younger ones—even for the older ones—I imagine they’ve lost their feel for so many of the things required to succeed in school.

That got me thinking about small-business owners (large-business owners, too), many of whom have experienced a severe downturn in business, layoffs, etc. As business slowly returns, some of us, owing to the inactivity of the last several months, might have lost some of what made us successful in the first place. I want to try to help you avoid that!

Picturing Success

Last month, I touched on staffing issues. This month, I thought I would go through the project-lifecycle phases, exploring one at a time. The plan is to develop a sequential series, drawing on some of my experiences, both good and bad. My hope is for this series to help bring to the forefront what might be in the back of our minds. In fact, I hope I might even share something that’s new (either a “to do” or a “not to do”) that will help you get back on your feet. The goal is not just to survive, but, rather, to thrive!

A little bit of foreshadowing: One of the repeating topics will be the definition of “success.” What does it mean to be successful in our industry? What does it mean to be successful in life?

How is success measured? And, once we define “success” and achieve it, how do we stay successful? I’m not including marketing here. Our starting point will be the account manager beginning (or about to begin) a dialogue with a new or existing customer.

The Steps of the Project Lifecycle

I will break down the project lifecycle into the following phases:

  1. Pre-sales: The all-important first step, during which you begin to gather information about the customer’s needs and wants.
  2. Preliminary design and documentation: The proposal phase.
  3. The kick-off: You have closed the deal.
  4. Design and engineering, project management, logistics, etc.: Time to get to work!
  5. Installation: This is where the rubber meets the road.
  6. Commissioning: Project closeout. This is when the allimportant sign-off occurs.
  7. Service contracts and managed services: This is how you keep your customer.

About the Author

Before I begin, I wanted to share a little about me. I started in this industry in the late ’70s. I was the friend with the big stereo who knew how to make things work. Initially, I did residential, cars, boats, etc. Then, as my reputation grew, I started to get commercial work: bars, nightclubs, churches, temples, government buildings, retail stores, etc. I learned as I went, drawing on my instincts, my experiences and my college courses, as well as the help of others.

There are very few things that I haven’t done in this industry, and I believe that you will find my perspective interesting, if not spot-on. I say that because I am passionate about our industry. I have nothing but the fondest memories of my time in the field, facing customers, building things, figuring stuff out and making things happen.

It has been years since I’ve had a tool in my hand at a customer’s site, cut a hole, or flooded a room with pink noise and set an equalizer. I have to admit that I miss pulling the wire, installing the equipment, setting it up, turning it on and getting that smile from the customer…that metaphorical pat on the back for having done a great job.

I hope you enjoy the series. If you think that I’ve overlooked something, please feel free to let me know. To all, stay safe! If you have any questions, comments or stories you would like to share, please email me at

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